French onion soup is one of those dishes that reminds me of my childhood.
The only place we ever ate it was at The Kettle in Manhattan Beach, which is officially my favorite restaurant in Southern California.
If you are ever in the South Bay area you must go there. It is the cutest, most family friendly seaside diner and one of the few places in the country these days that boasts a 24-hour open sign.
The recipe is adapted from Tyler Florence, and the idea to put it in a slow cooker comes from my favorite food blog How Sweet Eats.
I think putting anything in a slow cooker makes it easier.
And you barely even need to push the onions around during the saute process – my foodie friends who work in hospitality tell me that it’s better to just leave the onions alone.
The end result is actually really elegant – you’ve got big, juicy tender chunks of sweet onion floating in a nice wine and thyme-flavored broth, with chunks of sliced baguette and melted Gruyère on top.
Mm mm mmmmm.
Mr. Peaches & Cake slurped down his entire bowl, proceeded to dunk extra slices of bread in the dregs at the bottom, and then finished off the rest of mine.
Oh wait, and THEN he even put it under the broiler BY HIMSELF the next day when making leftovers. (!!)
I just about lost my marbles.
I didn’t even think he knew how to turn the broiler on.
So I think it got the stamp of approval.
And I swear that by no means did I scrape off the crusty cheese from the sides of the bowl and the baking pan.
No sir-ee…not me.
-peaches and cake
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup of dry red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon is good)
- 2 quarts of low-sodium beef stock
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, removed from the stem and finely chopped
- Fresh ground pepper (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 loaf of French bread or baguette, cut into ½-inch slices
- Gruyère cheese, shredded or sliced
- Set your slow cooker on high. Add butter, cover, and cook for a few minutes until melted.
- Add the onions, garlic, salt, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and bay leaves and mix until combined.
- Cover and let cook on high for 2 hours, until onions are a bit caramely and brown on the edges.
- Add in flour, then stir thoroughly and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates down a bit, about 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.
- Add in beef stock, thyme, and pepper. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 5 ½ hours.
- Season with fresh ground pepper.
- Set oven to a broil and adjust oven rack to middle position.
- Cut French bread or baguette into 3/4-inch slices. Fill oven-safe soup bowls to the top, then cover with slices of bread and a generous sprinkling of Gruyère cheese. Place bowls on a sturdy baking sheet and carefully set baking sheet under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.* Carefully remove baking sheet from oven. Use oven mitts while serving as bowls will be hot.
*Alternatively, if you don’t have oven-safe bowls, arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyère and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Then ladle the soup into any kind of bowl and float several of the Gruyère croutons on top.