I’ve been making Julia Child’s onion soup recipe for decades, a foolproof concoction topped with bread and gratinéed cheese. The addition of dry white vermouth makes it over-the-top delicious; Julia goes one step further, adding a little cognac to the mix just before the final heating to gratinee the cheese.
I like to riff on the recipe from time to time to mix things up. In this version, sauteed fresh mushrooms are added to the soup to add an earthy edge. Instead of the classic topping, slices of baguette are topped with goat cheese and toasted under a hot broiler and then added atop each serving.
Add a tablespoon of Cognac if you like when you add the mushrooms to the soup.
Onion Soup with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese Croutons
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
1 pound clean cremini mushrooms, halved
5 to 6 tablespoons butter, divided use
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 pounds sliced yellow (or brown) onions, sliced (about 8 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts reduced-sodium beef broth, plus more if needed
1/2 cup dry white vermouth
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1 tablespoon cognac
1 baguette French bread
About 8 ounces goat cheese
1. Cook mushrooms in large, deep skillet with 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium-high heat until softened and moisture evaporates, stirring frequently about 8 to 10 minutes, another tablespoon of butter if needed. Add 1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley, plus salt and pepper to taste; toss. Set aside.
2. Place 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon oil in heavy-bottomed 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven on medium heat. Add onions and cover; Reduce heat to medium-low and cook about 15 minutes or until softened. Uncover and raise heat to medium or medium-low. Stir in salt and sugar. Cook 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions turn even, deep golden brown.
3. Sprinkle with flour and stir 3 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully add broth. Return to medium-high heat. Add vermouth and bring to simmer. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 30 minutes. Add mushrooms and if using, Cognac. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. (If preparing ahead, let soup cool 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.)
4. Cut French bread into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Adjust oven rack to 8- to 10-inches below broiler; heat broiler. Place bread on rimmed baking sheet in single layer. Spread goat cheese (about 1/4 inch thick) on top of slices. Broil cheese-side-up until cheese heats and starts to brown.
5. Ladle hot soup into bowls and top with warm goat cheese crouton.
Source: Adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck (Knopf, $28).
Cooking question? Contact Cathy Thomas at [email protected]