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A Good French Onion Soup

A reader wrote asking how much wine she should have on hand for a dinner invitation. If it is of any help my dear lady, I am thinking about serving just soup to some friends this evening and as there will be wine served maybe I can be of assistance with her query . What I will be dishing up for them will be steaming hot earthenware pots of  good French onion soup? First and foremost I will require one large glass of chardonnay or some other dry white wine. That one glass is for the soup recipe. For my friends, and it is going to be a long evening, by my modest calculation I will need one bottle per person and one for the road, as they say. 

That seem a trifle excessive, you might say. Maybe, but madam you don’t know the company I keep. Be that as it may, if it should be too much – and I doubt it, as the females of my acquaintance can tipple as much as the males, if not more - I’ll have some left over for personal use. Of course there could be those present who may demand red wine. Not my taste but a host must oblige, so I calculate one bottle per guest, just in case they all – unlikely to say the very least, but one never knows with friends like mine – prefer red wine. Port, being the only sensible alcohol to drink after onion soup, will need to be on hand. How many bottles required? To save my guest’s possible embarrassment I shall not declare.
The recipe below is for 4 servings only but Intrepid Gourmet will give a gift for the first reader who can guess how many bottles my five friends and I quaffed.

French Onion Soup
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 large sweet yellow onions, thinly sliced
• Salt and pepper
• 1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
• 1 cup white wine
• 1 ½ cups beef stock
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• ½ tablespoon molasses
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 4 slices (1-inch thick) French bread
• 4 thick slices of cheese, such as Smoked Gouda, Provolone, Swiss, Cheddar, Mozzarella, etc…

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, and season with salt, pepper and tarragon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook the onions, covered, for 20 minutes.

Add the white wine to deglaze the pot and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. Add the beef broth, balsamic vinegar, molasses, garlic and nutmeg. Turn the heat up to medium high and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce to medium low and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes.

Turn the broiler in your oven on low. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet and toast them for several minutes on each side.

Set 4 oven-safe bowls on the baking sheet and ladle the soup into the bowls. Lay the toasted bread on top of the soup. Top the bread with the sliced cheese. Broil for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Yields 4 servings - Fly at a Smile-Price