Beth’s mom’s neighbor was raving about her favorite onion soup. When we got the recipe, one she clipped from her local newspaper, we had to agree; it is wonderful. The onions cook a very long time and end up delightfully brown and caramelized. Use a medium slow cooker, not a large one, for this recipe; the onions will fill the crock to the top but will collapse as they cook. Get the real Gruyère cheese, the rich, nutty Swiss cheese with the little holes that melts so perfectly atop a slice of toasted French bread soaked with savory soup.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
6 large yellow onions
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
One 14-ounce can chicken broth
One 10.5-ounce can beef broth
2 tablespoons Marsala or red wine (optional)
Four to six 1-inch-thick slices French bread
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, cut into thin slices
1. Peel and thinly slice the onions by hand or in a food processor. Put in the slow cooker and toss with the olive oil. Cover and cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours, stir, and continue cooking several hours, until the onions are well cooked and caramelized. Total cooking time will be 8 to 10 hours. When the onions are done, add both the broths and Marsala, if using; add no water or salt. Cover and cook on HIGH until hot, 15 to 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil or leave plain. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
3. Ladle the soup into individual ovenproof soup bowls and place on a baking sheet to prevent the bowls from tipping over. Top each bowl full of soup with a toasted bread slice and cover with a slice of the Gruyere. Adjust the oven rack to comfortably fit the bowls under the broiler with at least 4 inches to spare. Turn on the broiler and slide the soups under the flame; broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Cooker: Medium round or oval
Setting and cook time: LOW for 8 to 10 hours, then HIGH for 15 to 30 minutes