French Onion Soup

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I make soup every week for lunches or light dinner meals, and French Onion Soup is a favorite to have on hand.

If it's the"soup of the day" at a restaurant, I always order it to see what cheese they use which can vary depending on the chef.

Parmesan seems to be very popular, and I always have that on hand, but occasionally I've purchased Gouda, Gruyere or use Swiss to make it extra special.

Some folks top the soup with a toasted baguette slice and cheese, some use ready made croutons, but I discovered placing the toasted bread or croutons on the bottom of the cup or ramekin, then ladling soup in, followed by the cheese on top works best for presentation.

A nice twist to this recipe is adding cooked bacon which adds more texture and another flavor.  If your budget is tight, it can be left out and still taste delightful.

For an appetizer soup,  light dinner or lunch, try French Onion Soup and a salad!  This soup freezes well and the recipe can easily be doubled.

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French Onion Soup
1/2 pound bacon , chopped
3 pounds onions thinly sliced into rings
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tabs. flour
8 cups of beef broth, or 8 cups of beef bullion
2 Tabs. fresh thyme ( or 1 Tab. dry thyme), save a few pinches for garnish
1/2 cup wine, red or white
black pepper to taste
1 tsp. salt or to taste
6 to 8 slices toasted white bread rounds, about a half inch thick or commercial croutons
1 to 1-1/2  Tabs. sherry, optional
8 -10  ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved or grated; other cheeses, such as Swiss, Gruyere or Gouda work well, too.

 photo null_zps5437f69a.jpgSaute bacon until crispy in a large pot, about 5 to 6 minutes.  Transfer bacon to a paper towel and set aside.

Saute onions, thyme and sugar on medium high heat for 25 minutes in bacon fat, stirring occasionally. Onions will slowly cook down until caramelized, turning golden brown. Add flour and stir until blended.

 photo null_zps6a9ed235.jpgDeglaze pan with wine by pouring in wine and scraping bottom of pan of browned bits and cook about 1 minute.  Add beef stock; salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes, allowing flavors to blend.

French Onion Soup photo null_zps407e1690.jpgMeanwhile prepare croutons, if toasting fresh bread slices. Assemble individual soup bowls, cups or ramekins:  Add 1/2 teaspoon sherry and one large crouton (or several commercially made) in bottom of bowls.

Sprinkle crouton's with 1 to 2 tablespoons of bacon pieces then ladle soup into bowl. Top with cheese shavings, or sprinkle grated cheese over soup, top with a pinch of thyme and place bowls on a baking sheet.

Put sheet in the oven and broil until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Makes nearly a gallon. Serve immediately.  Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Estimated cost with bacon: $6.00 or less; $.60 cents or less per serving.

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