Tonight, your taste buds long for a rich, aromatic soup to cut the winter chill. We vote for French onion soup, a divinely soothing classic that is slow-cooked for deep flavor and silky texture.
This simple French onion soup from Epicurious calls for bay leaf, rich Gruyère or Emmental cheese, and dry white wine. We suggest using an Alsace pinot gris, like Domaines Schlumberger Princes Abbes Pinot Gris 2010 (Alsace, France) $20, which has a silky texture that matches the soup plus enough acidity and minerality to cut through a whole pot of warm, gooey cheese. And, it’s more than good enough to enjoy with the finished dish.
• 2 pounds medium onions, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced lengthwise
• 3 sprigs fresh thyme
• 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
• 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup dry white wine
• 4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth (32 fluid ounces)
• 1 1/2 cups water
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 6 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices of baguette
• 1 (1/2-lb) piece Gruyère, Comte, or Emmental
• 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Cook onions, thyme, bay leaves, and salt in butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring frequently, until onions are very soft and deep golden brown, about 45 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in broth, water, and pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. While soup simmers, put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange bread in 1 layer on a large baking sheet and toast, turning over once, until completely dry, about 15 minutes.
Remove croûtes from oven and preheat broiler. Put crocks in a shallow baking pan. Discard bay leaves and thyme from soup and divide soup among crocks, then float a croûte in each. Slice enough Gruyère (about 6 ounces total) with cheese plane to cover tops of crocks, allowing ends of cheese to hang over rims of crocks, then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes.