Take the Chill Out of Winter: Roasted Onion Soup with Port and Toasts

Onion Soup with Bacon

Hello All:

It was a bitter cold day this past Sunday,but we were looking forward to having friends join us for dinner. We'd last seen Anne and Glynn during the summer,when it was sultry and hot outside. We ate a sunset meal in their blooming garden nestled in the glory of Vermont's Green Mountains while we anticipated their upcoming travels to Bali and India.

I went for a long walk Sunday morning, before I began to prepare our dinner, wondering all the while if my frozen cheeks and hands would ever recover. To warm myself, I created our dinner in my mind. This Roasted Onion Soup with Tawny Port and Gruyère would be the perfect antidote to the chill in the air. I'd roast the onions in the oven to bring out their natural sugars while the high heat would add a bit of smoke to their flavors. Next, I'd simmer the cooked onions in a traditional liquid made of broth and white wine, then add a bit of tawny port to complement the flavors and colors of the roasted onions. To thicken it a bit, I'd serve it over toasts, but unlike most French-inspired onion soups, I'd only add a small bit of cheese to the toasts to keep the meal light.

It all worked well. With added slivers of peppered bacon just before serving, this soup was divine and gave us every reason to linger at the table while we caught up on each other's lives and travels.

Food and friendship are a perfect combination at any meal.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.

Dena

ROASTED ONION SOUP WITH TAWNY PORT & TOASTS

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients and Equipment:

  • 2 large rimmed baking pans, with raised sides
  • parchment paper
  • 3 large onions, of assorted varieties (Vidalia, white, Spanish, red)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups stock (chicken, meat or vegetable)
  • ½ cup tawny port
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 thick slices stale bread (French, sourdough or challah all work well)
  • About 3 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated 
  • 4 strips cooked bacon (optional garnish) 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Peel and slice the onions very thinly. (This can be done by hand or in a food processor using the slicing blade.) Spread the onion slices on the prepared cookie sheets and drizzle with olive oil. Place the onions in the oven and roast until the slices become translucent and the edges become golden. Roasting time will vary according to how thinly you slice the onions, but likely about 20 minutes or so.
  4. Remove the onions from the oven, but  leave the oven on as you will need it for the Gruyère toasts shortly.  
  5. Carefully place the cooked onions in the bottom of a large soup pot. Add the wine, stock, port, and bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower it to a simmer. Simmer the soup uncovered for about 25 minutes.
  6. While the soup is simmering, cover one cookie sheet with a fresh piece of parchment paper. Place the stale bread slices on the parchment paper and distribute the grated Gruyère evenly over the bread slices. Bake until the bread is toasted and the cheese is fully melted, about 5 minutes.
  7. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bay leaves from the soup pot. Taste. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed.
  8. When ready to serve, divide the Gruyère toasts between 4 soup bowls. Spoon the hot soup over the Gruyère toasts. 
  9. Enjoy.