In honor of the SuperBowl, we had chips-and-dip (purchased) and onion soup Sunday afternoon. The soup is a shameless rip-off from Giada de Laurentiis on the Food Network*, takes a lot of time but is otherwise disgustingly easy, and would've gone well with either a nice crisp white wine or beer, your choice… (My mom is tea-total, so we didn't.)
We had homemade-brownie-and-raspberry-chocolate-chip ice cream sundaes for dessert.
Italian-style French Onion Soup
1 giant yellow onion
2 medium red onions
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of salt
4 cups beef broth (reduced sodium if you can get it – my store doesn't carry it; chicken yes, beef no)
5 slices rustic bread, cut into cubes
about 4 oz fontina cheese, coarsely grated
about 1 oz parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
Slice the onions into half rings. Put the oil in a large-ish pot over medium heat and add the onions. (It will look like a lot; they cook down…) Once the onions start to soften, lower the heat, add the pinch of salt, and cook, stirring whenever you feel like it (ie, roughly every ten minutes). Eventually, the onions will start to caramellize, and begin to brown. At that point (probably about 40 minutes in), add the garlic. Stir and cook a tiny bit longer, so that the garlic cooks but does not burn. Stir in the beef broth, and continue cooking until everything's hot.
Ladle the soup into four oven-proof bowls. Pile a handful of the bread on top, and cover the bread thoroughly with the grated cheeses. Broil until the cheese melts, gets bubbly and browns a little.
*Ms. de Laurentiis didn't actually caramellize her onions, used all sweet onions (Maui, Walla Walla, Vidalia…), used day-old ciabatta bread, and didn't add the parmesan cheese. I had several-days-old cracked wheat sourdough (from Trader Joe's), and I think a little parmesan helps with the browning.
Do be careful how much salt you use, especially if you can't get low-sodium beef broth and/or use the parmesan. The onions need a little to help them give up their moisture, but our soup was on the high-salt edge of perfect: fine, but a very little more would've been too much. Oh, and if you're going to drink either the white wine or beer, a splash in the soup would be dandy, too.
And, just in case you're wondering, I had the standard Home Ec classes in middle school and observed my grandmother and mom, but mostly taught myself to cook. I steal ideas from several Food Network chefs (Alton Brown is my Hero!!!), but almost never follow a recipe as printed…