Onion & Fennel Soup Gratin

Serves 4 to 6 Beginner

Photo: Quentin Bacon

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 3 pounds Spanish onions, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 2 pounds fennel, tops and cores removed, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1/2 cup good dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup Cognac or brandy
  • 1½ cups good dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 8 cups canned beef broth
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small sourdough or white French boule, crusts removed, sliced ½ inch thick, and toasted
  • 4 to 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

Heat the butter and oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fennel, and cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a golden brown. If the onions aren’t browning, turn the heat up. Add the sherry and Cognac, scraping up the brown bits in the pan, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes. Add the beef broth, bay leaves, salt, and pepper, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and taste for seasoning.

Preheat the broiler and position a rack 5 inches below the heat source. Ladle the soup into heat-proof serving bowls, top with the toasted bread, sprinkle generously with grated Gruyère, and broil for3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve hot.

Copyright 2010, Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That? by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved

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