COLORADO FRENCH ONION SOUP
Sharing Mountain Recipes
by Randi Lee Levin
French Onion Soup is one of the reasons that I love to go out to eat. But finding a well-prepared one can be a challenge, unless you know where to go. When I was living back east, acquiring my first graduate degree, I found a restaurant that made the finest I have yet to taste. I went there often, just to revel in a bowlful between classes. A couple years later, back in Colorado, I had not forgotten that taste and I craved to reproduce it. One early autumn day it began snowing hard and the temperature was dropping rapidly. I spotted a bagful of onions and knew the time was ripe to play with a new recipe and so I did. Ah, this tasted heavenly! A word of advice; don't skimp on the cheese.
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
• 7 to 8 cups thinly sliced sweet yellow onions
• 3/4 teaspoon sugar
• 3 to 4 tablespoons flour
• 2 1/2 quarts beef broth
• 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1 cup white wine
• 1/4 cup brandy or cognac (optional)
• 1/2 teaspoon sage
• 1 bay leaf
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 loaf French bread
• 1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese for topping
• 1/3 cup grated Parmesan for topping
1. Melt the butter in a large pot at a medium low temperature, then stir in the onions, coating them with melted butter. Cover the pot and allow the onions to simmer for about 20 minutes, until they are translucent and tender. Stir the sugar into the onions, raise the heat to medium high, and continue simmering, stirring frequently until the onions have caramelized or turned a golden brownish color.
2. Lower the heat back to medium low, stir in the flour and 2 cups of beef broth and stir or whisk consistently until the mixture has thickened. Add the remaining broth, Worcestershire sauce, wine, sage and bay leaf; cover the pot and allow all to simmer for 40-50 minutes or until all flavors have mingled to your liking.
3. Just before the soup has finished simmering, prepare the topping. Slice the French bread into 1/2 - 3/4 inch slices, butter both sides of each slice and brown both sides under a broiler or in a toaster oven.
4. If using cognac or brandy, stir it into the soup just before serving. Place individual bowls onto a cookie sheet, fill each bowl with soup, place a slice of the toasted bread onto the top of the soup and top the bread with a healthy sprinkling of the cheese. Place the bowls under the broiler until the cheese has melted and is golden brown; about 5 minutes, possibly longer. Carefully remove the cookie sheet and bowls from the heat and serve immediately.