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Onions, water, cook, devour

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Rainy day quandary: wet, soggy conditions. Antidote: soup, salad and cheesy chunks of bread floating in said soup. Pantry staples: onions and stock, carrots, lettuce and bread are the ingredients for a divine, just-shy-of-elegant meal.

Thyme scented French onion soup with three-cheese crostini sounds froufrou, but is actually a rustic, peasant-style pot of soup. After all, onions are cheap and easy to grow. Some of the original recipes were really basic: onions, water, salt and pepper; cook over a fire, devour.

To obtain the sumptuous, deeply desired flavor profile, the onions must be slowly caramelized; essentially turning them into an amber-colored jam. Patience truly is a virtue when it comes to this process. The result will be an earthy, broth soup which is crowned with cheesy goodness.

Pair this rich provincial soup with a salad using left-over roasted vegetables, nuggets of creamy avocado, cushioned in a bed of butter lettuce, all showered with olive oil and orange-infused vinegar. Carrots and beets are a natural, but as the season changes, asparagus spears or tiny green beans will brighten the meal.

Thyme Scented French Onion Soup
Makes 2 main dish servings or 4 appetizer portions

6 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely minced
½ cup dry sherry
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 ½ quarts beef stock
½ loaf sourdough baguette cut in ½” slices
½ cup blend of parmesan, asiago and pecorino cheese
1 cut clove of garlic

Directions:

  • In a 4-6 quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes then reduce heat to low, adding salt and sugar. Continue cooking until onions have achieved a deep caramelized color. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes.
  • Stir in sherry. Allow most of the sherry to be absorbed by the onions. Slowly pour in the beef stock and thyme. Raise heat and bring to almost a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat, adding the balsamic vinegar. Taste for salt and pepper.
  • Three-Cheese Crostini: Placed sliced baguette on a baking sheet. Rub with a clove of garlic and sprinkle with three-cheese blend. Place under broiler and toast until cheese melts.
  • To serve: Ladle soup into wide soup bowls. Top with the crostini. Garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme.
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