I really love french onion soup. But I don't like heavy, overly beefy, salty soup, and I really don't like all that cheese on top. It's just too much, and you end up chewing great hunks of rubbery cheese, which I don't find pleasant. However, I made this onion soup and really loved it. Not only did it take less than an hour, it still had the sweetness of the onions and a little richness from the beef broth, but it wasn't heavy. Floated with two thin, crisp baguette slices topped with a little sharp cheese, it was just right.
Onion Soup with Loads of Thyme
adapted from Cooking for Two: Perfect Meals for Pairs by Jessica Strand
1 lb yellow onions, quartered, cut thinly
2 TB butter
1/2 tsp granulated white sugar (helps the onions caramelize)
1 scant TB fresh thyme leaves, plus a few extra for garnish
1 bay leaf
1 tsp AP flour
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups low-sodium beef stock or broth, or mushroom broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup sharp cheddar
4 1/2" thick baguette slices
In a 4-5 quart, heavy pot (enameled cast iron is great), melt the butter on low heat. Add the onions, sugar, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft and a golden color, about 30 minutes. Add flour, and stir, cooking for 1-2 minutes (this will help thicken the body of the soup just a bit). Add the wine, increase the heat to medium, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, another 3 minutes or so. Add the stock or broth and water, bring to a simmer, and turn heat to low. Let soup simmer slowly for another 30 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf from the soup and discard. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Toast baguette slices until brown. Top each with a TB of cheese, and toast further until cheese melts. Top each bowl with 2 slices of baguette and a small sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves. Serve.