2000s Recipes + Menus

Beefy Onion Soup

  • Active Time:45 min
  • Start to Finish:2 3/4 hr
February 2008
Adding a short rib to already richly flavored onion soup sets this version of the French classic apart from all the others you've tried.

For Soup

  • 1 (3/4-pound) beef short rib
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 large Spanish onions (3 pounds), thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 cup Madeira
  • 8 cups chicken stock, or 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth plus 2 cups water
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

For Toasts

  • 1 (10-inch) piece of baguette
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • 1/4 lb Brebis Pyrénées (sheep's-milk cheese), grated (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives

Make soup:

  • Pat short rib dry, then lightly season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown short rib on all sides, 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  • Add onions, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft and a brown crust forms on bottom of pot, about 30 minutes. Add Madeira, stirring and scraping up crust, then add stock, thyme, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and short rib with any juices from plate and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until short rib is very tender, about 2 hours.
  • Discard bay leaf and thyme. Shred meat from short rib with 2 forks (discard bone and gristle), then return to pot. Season soup with salt and keep warm, covered, over low heat.

Make toasts while soup simmers:

  • Preheat oven to 325F with rack in middle.
  • Halve baguette crosswise, then cut each half lengthwise into 3 (1/4-inch-thick) slices, transferring to a baking sheet. Brush both sides of bread with oil, then sprinkle with thyme and a pinch of salt. Bake until pale golden and dry, about 25 minutes.
  • Preheat broiler. Sprinkle toasts evenly with cheese and broil 3 to 4 inches from heat until cheese is melted and toast is golden in some spots, 1 to 2 minutes.

To serve:

  • Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with chives. Serve with toasts.
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