I am not a huge fan of onions on my burgers, onions in my salad or onions in general. But for some reason I have always loved french onion soup. Its probably all the bread and cheese that accompanies the broth. For the past several weeks, I've been playing around with different recipes and have settled on the one below that adapted from a recipe that appeared on the Food Network website.
French Onion Soup with Oaxaca Cheese
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 large yellow onions (about 4 pounds), halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups beef broth
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with twine
- 1 bay leaf
- black pepper
- your choice of bread, cut into 1/2-inch squares (like large croutons)
- 2 1/2 cups of shredded Oaxaca cheese or mozarella
Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Generously spray the inside of a heavy-bottomed large iron skillet or dutch oven with a nonstick cooking spray. Place the butter in the pot and add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, for 1 hour (the onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume). Remove the skillet from the oven and stir the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the skillet. Return it to the oven until the onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring the onions and scraping bottom and sides once or twice.
After onions are soft, place skillet on stove over medium-high heat. Don't forget to use an oven mit, the skillet will continue to be very hot. Brown the onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of skillet, until the liquid evaporates and the onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Reducing the heat to medium if the onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with a dark crust, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping the skillet bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and bottom has formed another dark crust, about 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing (this term was new to me, we just call it scraping the skillet around here) 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in the broths, 2 cups of water, tied thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of skillet. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Take the tied herbs out and season with a little salt and pepper.
For the croutons:
While the soup simmers, toast the bread squares in the oven until dry, crisp, and golden at edges, around 10 minutes. Set them aside.
Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler an turn your oven to broil. When the broiler is hot, set individual broiler-safe bowls on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups of soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices and sprinkle evenly with Oaxaca cheese (or mozarella). Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes.
Let soup cool 5 minutes before serving.
My MIL got me hooked on Oaxaca cheese when she was here over the holidays. I keep finding new ways to substitute it for mozarella. It melts perfectly and because of how it melts, it also makes great quesadillas. Mmmm...