(Please read the title in the voice of the Soup Nazi– a la Seinfeld). Thank you.

As much as I dread cooler weather, it does have a benefit or two attached to it.

For one, the dogs can bear to be outside for more than 5 minutes. In fact, this ding dong kind of likes it:

Another benefit of the cooler weather is that soup once again enters my life.

I love soup.

Love. It.

And French Onion is one of my classic favorites.

Whenever I’m in a restaurant that offers the savory cheesy goodness that is Onion Soup, I tend to indulge.

But I like a homemade version better for a couple of reasons:

1. I can control the salt. For whatever reason, restaurants want to give their diners swollen ankles and restricted arteries through their version of French Onion Soup. It is always so stinking salty.

2. I can control the quality of the bread and cheese that is, in my humble opinion, the most important part of the soup.

Let me provide an example.

On vacation with my sisters, Nurse Stephanie ordered some French Onion Soup. I have no clue what kind of rock bread they used in their soup, but this is what Steph looked like trying to eat it:

Makes for a great picture and memory.

Doesn’t make for good soup.

For Leah’s French Onion Soup, here is what you’ll need for four servings.

Side Note: I almost always make at least four servings when cooking for two people. It gives the Main Man and I a lunch leftover for the busy work week.

3 T. Butter (mmmmmm!)

3 Large Yellow Onions, sliced

1 Clove of Garlic

1 Bay Leaf

1 t. Dried Thyme

2-3 Portobello Mushrooms, chopped (optional, but it makes the soup heartier and more delicious)

1/4 c. Sherry

1/2 c. Dry Red Wine (I used Chianti)- you could use white too if that is more your thing

3-4 c. Beef or Vegetable Stock

Some good white bread

Gruyere Cheese (please, please, please splurge on the Gruyere)

Let’s cook!

Get out a medium saucepan, and put your butter in there. Turn on your burner to medium heat:

Once that melts, throw in all of your sliced onions, your chopped clove of garlic, your bay leaf, and your thyme.

Your house will instantly smell UH.MAZE.ING.

I love the smell of onions and butter.

It lights my world on fire.

Stir that around effectively coating the onions with butter.

Have you seen the movie Julie & Julia?

I love the way that Meryl Streep playing Julia Child pronounces the word butter.

When I write the word butter in a recipe, I hear Meryl’s Julia voice in my head.

Let those onions cook for 3-4 minutes, and then add in your mushrooms if you so choose.

Mushrooms, onion, and thyme just make sense to me. I actually don’t understand why every French Onion Soup doesn’t include them. They add so much substance and depth of flavor.

I guess it may be because of people like my Dearly Beloved Friend Anne.

She has the most incredible gag reflex when it comes to mushrooms.

I have never seen my dad laugh as hard as he did when Anne and I were about 15 years old, and she came over for dinner. Something my mom served had mushrooms in it, and she encouraged Anne to “at least try it”.

Anne obliged.

She ended up with a red face.

Tears in her eyes.

A few dry heaves.

My dad was hysterical. I honestly don’t know how many times I have seen him laugh that hard. I guess he finds joy and hilarity in someone else’s dry heaves.

And that makes him and me not so dissimilar.

So Anne (or anyone in Anne’s camp), feel free to leave out the mushrooms.

The rest of you… throw ’em in the pot!

This is where the recipe becomes less than scientific.

You need to just let the onions and mushrooms spend some time together with the butter.

They need to get to know one another.

Cuddle up next to each other.

Love on each other.

Until the onions and mushrooms are buttery and delicious and softened.

Now it gets fun.

Throw in your sherry.

If you don’t have sherry, you can find it in your grocery store near the vinegars. It is relatively inexpensive, and a bottle of it lasts me a long time.

Now, open your red wine.

Pour yourself a glass.

You deserve it.

After all, you made it through the oppressive heat of summer.

And you made it through the day.

And you are cooking for yourself or your family or your friends.

So, yeah. You deserve it.

Add some of that wine to your soup pot.

Be careful if you are using a gas stove like me.

Alcohol plus live flame equals danger.

Let that simmer together over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

You have no idea how delicious this smells.

But you will soon.

When ya make it.

Now add in 3-4 cups of stock. The amount of stock will be determined by how hearty or liquidy (yes, I’m aware liquidy isn’t really a word) you would like your soup.

To keep this a vegetarian dish, use vegetable stock.

If you want a little more depth of flavor, use some beef stock.

Or use a mixture of the two.

Let that come to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.

Oh hey, look who finally showed up to help me in the kitchen:

Slacker.

So, at this point, the base of your soup is complete.

Take a taste of it. With all of the stock in there, it is highly unlikely that you will need to add much salt, if any at all. But taste it to make sure. Add some pepper if you’d like.

If you are making this soup ahead of time for a party or guests or just dinner for another night, allow it to cool a bit and then transfer it to an airtight container and put it in the fridge.

To warm it up, just put it back in a pot on the stove over medium-low heat until it gets to temperature.

If you are eating it right away, here is how to finish it up.

We need some bread. Preferably white, crusty, and delicious:

Drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil:

Put them under the broiler (on high) in your oven for 1-3 minutes on each side. Keep an eye on them, because in my oven toasting bread goes from perfect to well-done very quickly.

When all toasty and delicious, pull the bread out of the oven and give it a gentle rub with a halved garlic clove.

Voila! Garlic bread.

Cut that into cubes, and lets grate our cheese.

Gruyere makes a world of difference in this soup. I have made this soup with pre-shredded mozzarella or shredded swiss, and it is OK.

With Gruyere it is perfect and amazing and life changing and life giving and magical.

I’m not even exaggerating.

Not even a tiny little bit.

I’m not.

Grate the gruyere.

Now, we will build our soup.

In an oven-safe bowl.

Oven safe bowls are very important for the French Onion Soup.

If you don’t have oven safe bowls or aren’t sure if you do, we’ll have to alter the final step of the recipe for you.

But never fear, you too can still enjoy the French Onion goodness.

Ladle a bunch of soup into your oven safe bowl or crock, and top that with your cubed garlic bread.

Then add a generous portion of the grated cheese:

Then pop that into the oven under the broiler for 3-5 minutes.

If you don’t have an oven safe bowl, pop it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese gets all melty.

Be careful removing it from the oven. The top of the bowl is extremely hot.

And if you accidentally pick it up with bare hands, you will get blisters.

I may or may not know that from personal experience.

Serve it up with a spinach salad topped with some strawberries and chopped smoked turkey.

Give thanks for the cooler weather.

For it has brought you renewed sanity because your dogs are back out in the yard.

And it has brought you soup once again.

And truth be told, soup- especially one with ooey gooey melty salty cheese on top- makes everything better.

Yours in white bread and cheesy goodness,
Leah

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