Soups in general are very comforting, but I would argue that there isn't a soup in the world more comforting than french onion soup (though tomato gives it a good run for its money!). I mean, this soup comes with toasted bread and melted cheese as a part of the package! Not to mention, it is both sweet and savory, and it makes great leftovers. In the past, I always tried to save the cheese and make it so that I can have a little bit in each bite. But when I'm making my own, I can put however much cheese I want on top, so I don't have to be so stingy! Hooray!
French onion soup always reminds me of this restaurant near Nonnie and Grandpa's house in Sarasota called Manhattan Bar and Grill. I don't even know if it is still in business, but it seriously had the most amazing soup. Dan and I would insist on going every time we visited. And since we are spoiled brats, they always obliged.
When you are picking out your onions for this soup, go ahead and get a couple of different kinds. Much like apple pie, this is best when you have a variety of tastes coming from the onions. I used half yellow onions and half Vidalia onions (I think), which ended up working well.
French Onion Soup (adapted from Tyler Florence):
1/2 cup unsalted butter 6 onions, sliced 2 garlic cloves, chopped 2 bay leaves 2 fresh thyme sprigs Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 quarts beef broth 1 baguette, sliced 1/2 pound sliced Provolone cheese
Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook for 5 or so minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for at least 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Toast the baguette slices in the oven on a large baking sheet (you might as well use the broiler since you will be using it again in a minute anyway). Just spread the slices out in one layer and toast for just a few minutes. Keep an eye on it because they will burn quickly..
Ladle the soup into heat-safe bowls and float several of the croutons on top, and then top with the slices of cheese. Put under the broiler until bubbling and brown. Be careful while handling the bowls and wait for a few minutes before eating because it will be hot!