I love Anne’s caramelization process and the herbs she uses. I love Ina’s use of cognac, sherry, white wine and the variation with beef stock. Anne’s recipe calls for chicken stock, which makes a soup that is lighter in color and flavor. Chatterley’s adds mushrooms. I actually think this recipe is very close to their French Onion Soup with Wild Mushrooms.
This recipe makes 6 full servings. Onion soup crocks are small because they’re made to hold a pre-dinner serving of soup. So you will be able to fill 6 of those crocks twice. Feel free to cut the baguettes and cheese appropriately and save some for use in leftovers.
8 large onions sliced thinly stem to blossom end
2 or 3 tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. salt plus more to taste
1 1/2 tsp. thyme
2 Bay leaves
1/2 cup dry Sherry
1/2 cup Cognac
1 1/2 cups dry White Wine
2 quarts of Unsalted Beef Stock
8 oz. Mushrooms (pick full flavored mushrooms) sliced
2 tbs. Butter
12 slices of French Baguette toasted
3 cups shredded Gruyere
Oven proof bowls
Coat the bottom of a large heavy pot with olive oil (don’t use non-stick as it has a tendency not to develop the lovely brown stuff on the bottom). Add sliced onions and sprinkle with salt. Mix them up so that they’re coated with oil. Cover and sweat over medium to medium-high heat for 15 minutes until they reduce slightly and lose some of their liquid. Remove cover and cook over low heat for a long time, an hour or more, stirring occasionally. As Anne Burrell says “This is a long process and it cannot be rushed. Accept it and move on.” Your house will smell lovely regardless. Slice and saute your mushrooms lightly in butter and set aside.
Once the onions have gained that lovely brown color and are cooked down, add the sherry and cognac and scrape bottom to deglaze the pan. Cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add the mushrooms with their juices, thyme, bay and white wine. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the stock, simmer slowly for 30 minutes or more, adjusting salt to taste.
When you are happy with the consistency and taste of your soup, ladle the soup into bowls, top with a piece of baguette (or two if they’re small) and put a handful of Gruyere over the top of the bread and place under a broiler on low until cheese is melted and bubbly.