Makes 8 servings
- 1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
- 4 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup brandy
- 6 cups beef or chicken broth, warm
- 1 sprig fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, 4 sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf, and 1 clove peeled garlic, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with kitchen twine
- Salt, as needed
- Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
- 8 slices French bread (about 1/4-inch thick)
- 1 cup shredded Gruyère, plus more as needed
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, without stirring, until they begin to brown on the bottom. Increase the heat to medium, stir, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deeply caramelized to a dark golden brown and very soft, 30 to 45 minutes. If the onions begin to scorch, add a few tablespoons of water.
Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute more. Add the brandy and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the liquid has nearly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the broth and the tarragon sachet and bring to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, for 45 to 60 minutes, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Remove and discard the sachet. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately, or cool and refrigerate to allow the flavors to develop.
To serve, preheat the oven to 350°F. Ladle the soup into 8 individual ovenproof onion soup crocks. Top each crock with a slice of bread and sprinkle with grated cheese, covering the bread completely and coming to the edges of the crocks. Set the soup crocks in a large baking dish and add enough boiling water to the baking dish to reach two-thirds of the way up the sides of the crocks, making a water bath. Bake until the soup is thoroughly heated, if needed, and the cheese is lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
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