Have you ever traveled to a distant land and fallen in love? It happened to me once. At first it was just a fling, a frivolous affair, but when I went back again, it became serious. I fell in love in Paris, with Paris. Madly, deeply, head over heals in love.
Now, long after the first passionate throes have faded into sweet memories, I still long for Paris. There is a yearning, an aching in my heart because I cannot visit my love.
Alas, I must settle on a long-distance relationship. So here's how I keep the romance alive…
French Onion Soup
4 1 ½-inch thick slices baguette
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter
4 large yellow onions, julienned
¼ cup red wine
2 tablespoons ruby port
1 ½ quarts beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
½ pound shredded Gruyère
Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until dry. Let cool.
Heat a large, heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add the butter and onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until caramelized.* Add the wine and port and simmer for a minute or so, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot with a heat-proof spatula. Add the broth, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the flavors come together. Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprig. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Preheat the broiler. Divide the soup among 4 oven-proof soup bowls and arrange the soup bowls on a baking tray. Press 1 baguette slice cut side up into the top of each one and divide the Gruyère among them. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the Gruyère is melted and golden brown. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 very generous servings.
*For information on making and using caramelized onions and everything you ever wanted to know about searing, plus dozens of fabulous searing recipes, look for my book Seared to Perfection in stores now.