Ever since I was a child, French onion soup has been my favourite. Maybe it's the cap of stringy cheese, the bread, or possibly the rich broth, but every time I went out for soup to a restaurant I always ordered French onion.
For ages I always wanted to make it at home, but I never did have the right kind of bowls until this summer, someone on Twitter pointed out to me that French onion soup bowls are almost always at the thrift store. I had never been to the thrift stores here in Chilliwack but finally I decided to visit and voila! Two French onion soup bowls for $2. Works for me! This soup has a bit of a twist on the usual French onion, it includes some butternut squash. I like the squash, but I think it would be just as good without so do be sure to try it both ways. What I also really like about this is that it's much less salty than restaurant versions,which is really nice.
Now having said all that, where you shouldn't skimp is the cider or the cheese. I'm not much of a drinker-I enjoy the occasional glass of red wine and I abhor beer, but hard cider is something I love. Lonetree is my brand of choice, and you can buy it either hard or non-alcoholic. If you can't find Lonetree where you live, just something that is fairly dry will do the trick. You could do apple juice, but it might make things a bit sweeter than it should. Also get a really good gouda, one that you'd want to just eat by the chunkful, and you'll be laughing. Trust me, it's totally worth it.
2 tbsp butter
4 onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch grated nutmeg
5 cups beef stock
1 cup apple cider
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3 cup cubed, peeled,butternut squash
12 slices (3/4 inch thick) baguette
2 cups shredded gouda
1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are evenly browned-about 20 minutes. Turn the heat down if the bottom of the pan starts to get too browned. Stir in the flour, thyme, pepper and nutmeg. Stir and cook for about a minute, then add the stock, apple cider, and vinegar.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
Stir in the butternut squash. Simmer the soup for about 15 minutes or so, covered, until the squash is really tender.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.
Ladle the soup into French onion soup bowls. Top each with two slices of baguette, about 1/3 cup gouda, and a sprinkle of the fresh Parmesan. Place the soup bowls onto a rimmed baking sheet and place into the oven. Bake them for about 15 minutes, until browned and bubbly.
Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.
Makes six servings.
Adapted from Canadian Living