My Mom told me once never to eat French onion soup on a first date. Apparently, she thinks all those ooey gooey strings of cheese that messily stretch from your bowl to your mouth as your slurping away are not very sexy. Now, every time I eat French onion soup I think of that piece of advice that she shared with me and I have a little laugh to myself.
And admittedly, I’ve taken her statement to heart. I can honestly say that I have never ordered French onion soup on a first date. Mother’s know best.
The first time I made this Three-Onion French Onion Soup was when I was living in a tiny loft apartment in Vermont. The soup turned out great. But my place (and probably me) smelled like onions for about a week. So I’ve been a little apprehensive to attempt it again. But now that I have a bigger and more ventilated place, I figured I would give it another whirl.
The key to producing a French onion soup with great depth of flavor is to invest some time into caramelizing the onions. Cooking the onions low and slow coaxes out all of the natural sweetness. The whole process takes about 30-35 minutes, but it’s worth it. And the use of three different types of onions here (red onions, yellow onions and leeks), gives an extra level of dimension as well.
Do you know what the best part is about making and eating French onion soup at home? You can be as messy as you want with the melty, stringy cheese!
Three-Onion French Onion Soup
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 3/4 cups dry white wine
- 1/2 cup sherry
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 8 cups beef stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 loaf French bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 10-12 ounces Gruyere or Swiss cheese, shredded
- In a large heavy-bottom pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced red and yellow onions. Sauté the onions, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until the onions have begun to soften and their volume is reduced by approximately half. Stir in the leeks and the brown sugar. Reduce the heat to low. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and have begun to caramelize, about 30-35 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, thyme leaves, salt and black pepper and cook for about 2 minutes. Then stir in the white wine and sherry. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes, scraping up any browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pot. Add the flour and cook with stirring for 2-3 minutes. Add the beef stock and the bay leaf. Bring the soup to a simmer, and allow it to cook, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove the soup from the heat. Discard the bay leaf. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm.
- Make the cheese toasts. Pre-heat your broiler. Lay the sliced bread out onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Top with the shredded cheese. Place the baking sheet under your broiler and cook until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- To serve, ladle the warm soup into bowl. Top with a few cheese toasts. Enjoy immediately.
- Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 2-3 days.