This version of my "famous" (in my household) French Onion Soup has been labeled the winner. My husband loved it, my kids loved it, and I was very happy with how it turned out. There is a secret ingredient.... that I'll reveal later. :) The prep starts the night before, so be aware that you can't whip it up quickly in an afternoon. For the full culinary experience, you'll need to put in a bit of time. There are shortcuts you can take, but they will diminish the flavor and quality of your end result.
Night Before Prep:
You'll want to get your hands on some grass fed, beef marrow bones. I got mine from a local co-op, but you can talk to your grocery butcher about getting some of your own if there isn't a grass fed local option. Mine look like this:
Take a baking pan and line it with foil. Drizzle the inside with olive oil and some chopped garlic. (about 2 cloves worth)
Roast the bones at 400-425 for about 45 min. Cover them to keep the fat from boiling away and splattering everywhere in the oven. You want them nice and brown, not charred, so keep watch over them. When they are done, take the foil out of the pan and dump the contents (fat, garlic, bones and all) right into your crock pot. Cover them with several inches of water, add in fresh thyme sprigs and bay leaves, 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar (draws the nutrients out of the bones) and set it on low for overnight.
(The next morning)
Next, you'll begin the prep of your onions. You'll need 3-4 sweet yellow onions.
Peel and cut them into what I call ribbons. Set them aside.
In a large saute pan, saute another clove or two (depending on your tastes) of garlic in a whole stick of butter. Add the onions. It will feel like a TON of onions, but they cook down as they go. Cover them. Stir and turn them occasionally.
After about 25 min, they should be very soft and caramelized. Now comes the secret ingredient. Ready? Here it is.
Ta da! 1 Cup of Port Wine. Now... I'm not a drinker at all and I felt super out of place in the wine aisle. It is a sweet dessert wine. I was all ready at the cashier with my ID and I didn't even get carded! I guess I just don't look that young anymore. Really. The one time I buy the stuff and I don't even get to show off my adorable licence photo. (NOT).
Anyway, add a cup of this stuff and simmer until it absorbs into the onions and the remaining liquid boils off. It should take about 5-7 min. It's pretty quick. It's a very sweet red wine and it realllly brings out the sweetness in the onions.
Now I just need to figure out what to do with the rest of the bottle..... Maybe I'll make more soup. :)
(Onion prep steps)
Now you're almost ready.
Strain your broth into a large stock pot. Make sure to save the bones, you can reuse them. Just put them back in the crock pot, add your vinegar, recover with water, and you're good to go again. :)
Your broth will be a super yummy and thick broth. It's super gelatinous due to the marrow.
This soup will be extremely hearty. My husband was super full after just one bowl. It's not like bouillon where it's watery and super salty. It's thick robust goodness. Add in your onion, and simmer for about 10 min to combine the flavors.
You can see in the photo on the top right how it's got a gelatin along the top. Yuuum! So good for you!
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Now comes the extra fun part.
For French Onion, you can use Swiss cheese.
Now, I'm a sucker for a good bowl of Dutch Onion. Instead of the Swiss, you use Gouda. I like a good sharp raw milk Gouda on my soup. It gives it an amazing flavor kick.
We used some gluten free bread, toasted it, topped out bowls with it, added the layer of cheese, and then into the broiler on high it went.
If you aren't gluten free inclined, you can use french bread.
These are the bowls that I use and I love them.
Keep watch.. there is not specific time frame for this. It just depends on how melted and crispy you prefer your cheese.
Carefully remove from the broiler and then prepare for the party in your mouth. :)