French Onion Soup
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Every French restaurant I’ve been to here in the U.S. has had French onion soup on its menu.  I always order it since it is one of my favorites; I cannot resist it even in summer.  The melted cheese texture and taste combined with a deep onion flavor makes this soup an instant classic recipe for your kitchen.  And it is easy to make! Historically, onion soup was known as a poor people’s dish since the main ingredient, the onion, has always been inexpensive and readily available through all of history.  When French cooking spiked in popularity in the U.S. in the 1960’s (due in part to the robust sales of the Julia Child cookbooks) there was also a rise in popularity of French onion soup. Ingredients ¼ cup unsalted butter, you may substitute cooking oil if you like 4 onions, peeled and sliced 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine salt and pepper to taste – my broth has plenty of salt so I omit this 1 cup red wine, cognac or sherry 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 quarts beef broth – I use Better Than Bouillon (see photo) Be sure to use 2/3 to 1/2 of the bouillon that is called for since this brand is very salty. 1 baguette or other crusty bread, sliced ¼ to ½ inch thick ½  pound grated Gruyère or other cheese that melts well, like mozzarella, jack or high quality cheddar Directions Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft.  This will take about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has bubbled off and the onions are almost dry, about 5 minutes. I find that the flour really gives this soup the texture of the best French onion soups that I have had in restaurants.  It seems weird to add flour at this point, but give it a try.  Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook them for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. For the beef broth, I use Better Than Bouillon which comes in a jar.  I just read the directions on the jar and mix up the 2 quarts that I need. So now add your beef broth, bring the soup up to a simmer again, and cook it for about 10 minutes.   When you're ready to eat, preheat your broiler.  Ladle the soup into oven-proof serving bowls and float a slice or two of the crusty bread in each bowl.  Sprinkle the bread with the cheese and broil until it bubbles and is golden brown.  This will take 3 to 5 minutes. If you are uncomfortable with broiling at high temperature you can microwave the bowl with the soup, bread and cheese on top.  The only thing you will miss is the browning of the cheese. The bowl will be hot no matter what method you use – take care to remove the bowl carefully with oven mitts or potholders.  And let the bowl sit for a few minutes before tasting, or you will burn your mouth! But what a great taste when you finally dive into this delicious soup!