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Ina Garten Jazzes Up Onion Soup

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Cut your onions in half, then sliced them 1/4-inch thick.

“I love to take a recipe and ‘turn up the volume,'” Ina Garten writes in “Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?” (Clarkson Potter Publishers, $35). “Who doesn’t love French onion soup gratinée with its topping of onion-soaked bread and gooey melted cheese? I add some fresh fennel to give it more depth of flavor and the results are delicious.”

On these recent cold days, this soup is pure comfort.

Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 good olive oil
3 pounds Spanish onions, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 pounds fennel, top and cores removed, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 cup good dry sherry
1/2 cup Cognac or brandy
1 1/2 cups good dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
8 cups canned beef broth
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 small sourdough or white French boule, crusts removed, sliced 1/2-inch thick, and toasted
4 to 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

Heat the butter and oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fennel, and cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a golden brown. If the onions aren’t browning, turn the heat up. Add the sherry and Cognac, scraping up the brown bits in the pan, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes. Add the beef broth, bay leaves, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and taste for seasoning.

[amazon-product]0307238768[/amazon-product]Preheat the boiler and position a rack 5 inches below the heat source. Ladle the soup into heat-proof serving bowls, top with the toasted bread, sprinkle generously with grated Gruyère, and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?” by Ina Garten

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