There's no question that the star of this recipe are the Vidalia onions, which help to give this soup even more flavor. As the official state vegetable as well as an official trademark owned by the State of Georgia, Vidalias thrive in the rich, low-sulfur soil of southeast Georgia. Praised for their sweet flavor and consistency, these treasured onions start popping up in markets around the country in April and appear throughout the warm growing season. The natural sugars in Vidalias make them a perfect candidate for French onion soup. It's important to spend a good bit of time caramelizing the onions to develop their sweet, nutty flavor.
3 fresh thyme sprigs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 medium Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup brown ale
1/2 cup dry sherry
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 cups beef stock
12 ( 1/2-inch) French baguette slices, lightly toasted
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Gruyère cheese*
*Swiss cheese may be substituted
How to Make It
Tie thyme sprigs into a bundle with kitchen string.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium 1 minute or until hot; melt butter in Dutch oven. Add onion slices, and stir in salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, 45 minutes or until onions are caramel colored.
Increase heat to medium-high, add thyme bundle and garlic; cook, stirring once or twice, 1 minute or until fragrant. Add ale and sherry, stirring to loosen any browned bits from bottom of Dutch oven. Cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until liquid is syrupy and thick. Reduce heat to medium, sprinkle flour over onion mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes or until evenly coated, being careful the flour does not burn. Stir in stock, and bring to a light boil; reduce heat to low, and cook 15 minutes. Discard thyme bundle.
Preheat broiler with oven rack 5 to 6 inches from heat. Ladle soup into 6 large broiler-safe bowls, filling each about three-fourths full. Top each with 2 toasted bread slices; sprinkle each with 1/3 cup shredded cheese. Broil 30 seconds to 1 minute or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Serve immediately.
We tested with Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale.