4 lb onions, any type
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp butter
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp vinegar, any type (optional)
3 tsp salt
8 cups water
6 slices bread
1½ cups cheddar, grated
beef or chicken stock instead of water
Best if you accept it now: you are going
to cry making this recipe, since the ﬁrst
step is to chop a mountain of onions.
But crying is good for us from time
to time. Soon you will be on to the
magical part, watching a colossal pile of
onions shrink and caramelize to make
a sweet, ﬂavorful, wonderful soup.
Save this recipe for the winter, when
other vegetables are out of season and
you want to ﬁll your home with warm
aromas. As my friend Marilyn, who
suggested this recipe, said, “the smell in
your kitchen is absolute heaven.”
Chop each onion in half lengthwise,
peel them, then cut them into half-
moon slices. These big slices are ﬁne
since you’re cooking the onions for so
long. Slice the garlic as well.
Melt the butter in a large pot on
medium heat. Add the onions, garlic,
and bay leaves. Cover the pot with a
lid and leave it for 10 minutes. When
you come back, the onions should have
released a lot of moisture. Give them a
stir. Pour in the vinegar and put the lid
Cook for 1 hour, stirring every 20
minutes. When the onions at the
bottom start to stick and turn dark,
add a splash of water to unstick them.
Don’t worry, the onions aren’t burning,
just caramelizing. The water helps lift
off the sticky, delicious, sweet part!
Once the onions are very dark and
about a quarter the volume they once
were, add all the water and a bunch of
salt and pepper. Cover the pot again,
turn the heat down to low, and let it
simmer for another hour. Taste and
adjust salt and pepper as needed.
Ladle the soup into bowls.
Now it’s time to make cheese toast! If
you want classic French onion soup—
with the toast directly in the soup,
which makes it a bit soggy—place a
piece of bread on top of each bowl of
soup, sprinkle with cheese, then heat
the bowls under your oven’s broiler
until the cheese is bubbly.
If you don’t like soggy toast, just make
the cheese toast on its own and serve it
on the side to dunk.