So if the first recipe in February was spare and simple peasant food, this last is spare and simple and yet extraordinarily rich, the food of kings that even peasants can afford.
Yes, it's the lovely onion soup (French onion soup? what makes an onion soup French, per se?) cooked for long hours in the slow cooker, then tucked with toast and topped with cheese and ... sipped and slurped, slow bite by slow spoon.
NEXT TIME I'll try yellow onions rather than the sweet ones specified. I've known for a long time that sweet onions get muddy flavored once cooked and thus are better for dishes where they remain raw. This time, I trusted the cookbook author rather than my instinct and trust me, no one complained about this soup. Still, it might reach an entirely different level with yellow onions.
NUTRITION NOTES The bread and cheese obviously add carbs and calories to this dish. I enjoyed the soup, plain -- so the bread and cheese aren't necessary, if supremely tasty. Moving on to the cheese-topped version, I was surprised by how much cheese was required just to achieve what looks like a thin layer in the photo (though it tasted like plenty, no one felt cheated). What versions with thick layers of cheese must add up to, point-wise, I don't want to know (or eat).
FROM THE ARCHIVES Check the Recipe Box for all the delicious recipes for hot soup and cold soup.
FROM GREAT FOOD BLOGS
StephenCooks ... Julia's Onion Soup
What Did You Eat? ... Red Onion & Red Wine Soup
Tummy Treasure ... Onion Soup au Gratin
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SLOW COOKER ONION SOUP
Time to table: minimum of 8 hours, I did mine over the course of three days
Makes 11 cups
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 pounds large onions (sweet if you like but I think yellow or red would be better)
Melt the butter in the slow cooker on HIGH. Add onions as they're sliced, stirring to coat with fat with each addition. Cover and let cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Decrease temperature to LOW. Let cook, stirring occasionally, til browning, about 4 hours. (Mine took 6 hours and then I refrigerated overnight.)
3 tablespoons flour (I skipped this, it was plenty thick)
1 cup red wine
5 cups beef stock (I used a beef paste, sorry, a product whose name I can't remember and can't remember where I found it, but it was perfect)
2 tablespoons port (hmmph, I forgot this and do think it would add/brighten)
Salt & pepper to taste
Chopped parsley (for serving plain)
Bring onions back to low simmer. (This took a couple of hours.) Add the wine and stock and cook for 2 hours. Stir in port and season to taste. Top with parsley and serve at once.
BREAD & CHEESE
Thick slices good bread, toasted
Emmentaler or Gruyere or other good melting cheese, sliced thin
(Consider bringing soup way up to a fast boil before proceeding.) Place a scoop of onions in each bowl, top with the bread, then pour a scoop of liquid over top. Top with cheese and place under the broiler until cheese melts and begins to brown.