French Onion Soup (Reason #5 why I will never become a complete vegetarian)

May 29, 2013

The first year that we subscribed to a CSA, we were overwhelmed with onions.  Each week's box featured one or two really enormous ones, and they accumulated in our refrigerator faster than we could stir-fry them.  At one point, I made a truly awful onion casserole that involved club crackers and Parmesan cheese, just to use the darn things up before we went on vacation.

I used the subsequent winter to develop an action plan before the next year's CSA onion deluge began: French onion soup.  It's simple, delicious, and best of all, requires three large onions.  Although it's possible to make a vegetarian version, for me French onion soup sans beef broth is one of those "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" types of things.

To make this batch of French onion soup, I used some deliciously sweet Vidalia onions from the grocery store.  I know that the mozzarella cheese isn't authentically French, but it's what we always have on hand.

Adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

Serves four


French Onion Soup Ingredients  
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 large onions, sliced and separated into rings
  • 2 10.5 ounce cans condensed beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 4 1-inch think slices of French bread
  • shredded mozzarella cheese

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the onions.  They should just about fill the Dutch oven to the brim.

Onions before cooking

Cook the onions for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat all of the onions with butter.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for about 40 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so, until the onions are golden brown.  The volume of the onions will shrink dramatically.

Onions after cooking

Stir in the broth, water, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove bay leaf.

Meanwhile, toast bread.

Ladle soup into 4 oven-proof bowls (do not use glass bowls, as they may shatter under the broiler).  Place a piece of toasted bread in each bowl and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Put the bowls of soup on a baking sheet and broil for about 2 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

French Onion Soup

Note: since Mike and I are a family of two, we have leftover soup for lunch the next day.  If your workplace break room doesn't feature a broiler, you can place the toasted bread and cheese in the bowl of soup for the last 30 seconds or so of microwaving.  The cheese won't brown, but your French onion soup will still handily beat out instant Ramen noodles in the taste department.