French Onion Soup

Where in Los Angeles could we go after a delightful Brentwood cocktail party? The Woodside Restaurant, of course, where the onion soup has everything traditional Parisian onion soups have: a rich broth, lots of onion flavor, a delicious crouton and just the right amount of cheese. The chef adds a splash of balsamic vinegar for an extra edge.

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  • Servings: 6

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  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large white onions (about 2 1/2 pounds), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Madeira
  • 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • 4 cups beef stock or canned low-sodium broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Six thick slices stale sourdough bread
  • 2 cups grated Gruy√®re cheese (about 6 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 scallions, chopped

How to make this recipe

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the Madeira, reduce the heat to moderate and cook until evaporated. Continue adding a total of 1/2 cup of the Madeira, 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring often and cooking until evaporated before adding more, about 15 minutes. Continue cooking the onions, stirring, until deep brown, about 10 minutes more.

  2. Add the chicken and beef stocks to the saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the soup is flavorful and the onions are tender, about 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the balsamic vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons of Madeira.

  3. Preheat the broiler. Arrange 6 ovenproof bowls on a baking sheet. Divide the soup among the bowls, top each with a bread slice and cover the bread with the cheese. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Garnish the soup with the scallions and serve.

Make Ahead

The onion soup recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Photo © Maura McEvoy Published March 1999

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