French Onion Soup Gratinee
1/2 stick butter
2 pounds yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
4 cups boiling beef broth (I use the Swanson's low-sodium kind)
2 cups water
4 tbsp cognac
1 1/2 tsp salt
Fresh pepper to taste
8 slices of a baguette or crusty bread, toasted (10 minutes at 400 degrees)
1 cup gruyere cheese, finely grated and about 12 thin slices of it
Cut onions in half, then cut into uniform sized slivers. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and add onions and sugar. Stir, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should be softening, not browning. Remove the lid and cook another 25 minutes, until onions begin to brown slightly. Stir in flour until combined. Add water, broth, 3 tbsp cognac, salt and pepper. Boil for 5 minutes, turn heat down to low and simmer with the lid partially on for 45 minutes. Remove lid and cook an additional 10 minutes. Add last tbsp of cognac and add more salt/pepper if desired.
Ladle soup into oven-proof bowls. Add a toasted bread slice and sprinkle with cheese (about 1/4 cup for each bowl). Place 3 slices of cheese slightly hanging over the rim of the bowl. Cook under the broiler until the cheese is bubbling and melted.
Serve immediately (although it will be very hot) with remaining bread slices.
Note: Do not be greedy with the cheese. Too much cheese doesn't necessarily make it better. Be careful not to burn the onions - cook them over a low heat. If you do this, you don't need to watch them too closely. This soup cooks for about 2 hours, so make sure you allow enough time. Once you get it started though, you don't need to pay much attention to it. We serve it with a butter lettuce salad.
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