Frank had to do some research to prove to Jerome that what Americans call French onion soup really is from France. Jerome never saw it when he was growing up. He and the soup apparently come from different regions. We caramelize three types of onions—yellow onions, red onions, and leeks—to make this sweet, hearty soup. At the store, we don’t do the whole melted-cheese top thing that characterizes French onion soup, so we didn’t think it deserved that name. Three-onion soup is even better the next day. Serve it with French bread, of course.
- 2 big yellow onions, quartered and thinly sliced
- 2 red onions, quartered and thinly sliced
- 4 leeks root end and dark-green tops removed, sliced ¼ inch thin, and washed
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unbleached allpurpose flour
- 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Sauté the yellow and red onions and the leeks in the butter and olive oil in a large soup pot over high heat for 5–10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the onions from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
2. When the onions have begun to soften slightly and reduce in volume, 5–10 minutes, lower the heat to medium and continue to sauté them for about an hour, until they are caramel in color and almost melted. You don’t want the onions to burn, so, if it looks like they’re heading in that direction, lower the flame even more, or splash a little bit of water over them—this buys you some cooking time.
3. Sprinkle the onions with the flour, stirring all the while so the flour doesn’t clump. Sauté for another 5 minutes to cook off the floury taste.
4. Pour the stock over the onions and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
5. Just before you’re ready to serve the soup, whisk in the cheese. It’s important to whisk in the cheese at the last minute, or else the cheese will fall to the bottom of the pot and burn. Serve warm.