ONION SOUP GRATINÉE
This simple and hearty soup, rich with burnished onions and sweet port, is topped with tangy Gruyère. Borrow a custom from Bordeaux and spill a little red wine into the bottom of your nearly empty soup bowl. The tradition, known as chabrot
, dictates a quick swirl of wine into the tail-end of the hot broth and then a hearty gulp right from the bowl. Tradition does not dictate doing all of this while undressed, but rumor has it that it makes the soup taste even better. We've been too shy to try it.Serves 6
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
4 medium yellow onions, peeled, halved through the stem end, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
4 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 quarts Chicken Stock (page 230)
1/2 cup port
6 slices of country bread, about 1 inch thick, toasted
2 cups Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
In a 5-quart Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the onions and, stirring frequently to prevent burning, sauté until they reach a golden color, approximately 30 minutes. Add the butter, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the white wine, bring to a boil, and reduce the wine by half, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the Chicken Stock and simmer for 45 minutes.
Preheat the broiler.
Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf, and swirl the port into the finished soup. Ladle the soup into 6 ovenproof bowls. Fit the toasted bread into the bowls on top of the liquid, and sprinkle 1/3 cup of Gruyère onto each slice. Place under the broiler for 3 minutes, or until the cheese melts to a crispy golden brown. Allow the soup to cool slightly, about 3 minutes, before serving.
Excerpted from The Balthazar Cookbook by Keith McNally, Riad Nasr, Lee Hanson. Copyright © 2003 by Keith McNally, Riad Nasr, Lee Hanson. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.