Well, with the cold and rainy weather having settled into the Pacific northwest, comfort food has begun to once again take on its seasonal appeal. I hadn't made a pot of French onion soup in years, but for some reason it just sounded right. It's really easy to make and doesn't cost very much either. (except for the cheese if you opt for the good stuff)
I don't know that I've ever actually measured the ingredients for this, but I'll give you the amounts as close to what I can remember. Keep in mind that a little more or less of any component can be left to personal taste or preference.
4 or 5 large yellow onions
2 T. cooking oil
4 quarts chicken stock
salt & pepper to taste
1½ T. tomato paste
1 pkg Holland Rusk
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Notes about ingredients:
I highly recommend using homemade stock. The flavor is much richer, It isn't watery like the canned stuff, and it isn't pumped full of sodium.
If Maui or Walla-Walla sweet onions are available use them. If not regular yellow onions are just fine too.
Holland Rusk is a toasted bread round that is placed on top of the soup. If you can't find them in your super market, you can toast white bread in the oven till it's dry (remember to cut off the crust first)
Gruyere is an aromatic (code for stinky) type of cheese in the family of Swiss. It has a much deeper flavor than an ordinary Swiss. The down side to it, is it is kind of spendy. If you can't find it or you just want to save a couple of bucks, sub in Swiss.
OK, how to prepare it:
Cut the onions in half, peel and slice them into thin strips (half rounds). Place the oil and onions into a stainless steel stock pot large enough to hold all the ingredients. Cook over medium heat until the onions are dark golden brown. (This is called caramelizing them) Separately, bring the stock to a boil and strain off any fat from the surface. Once the onions are caramelized, add the stock to them. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato paste. Simmer for another 15 minutes or so.
Ladle into individual oven proof soup bowls. Place a Holland Rusk on top of soup. Sprinkle some cheese on top of Rusk then place under the broiler to melt the cheese. Watch closely as it only takes about a minute to go from melted and bubbly to burnt and nasty! Grab a spoon and enjoy. Remember the cheese is like molten lava when it first comes out of the oven, so be warned and don't burn the roof of your mouth on it.
As mom would say. . .try it, you'll like it.