I seem to prefer my soup in sandwich form. My ultimate “bowl” of onion soup is one part soup, one part toasted bread, and one part melty cheese. Not exactly the ratio the French stand behind, but it works for me.
Recently, I decided to turn that into a “quickie” French onion soup grilled cheese.
I started out by caramelizing the onions on the stove – sweet ones to give the recipe a boost of sugar you would normally only get after a long cooking time. Once the onions were nice and soft, I added a splash of sherry, fresh thyme and a hit of rich beef stock to re-create the flavors of a traditional French onion soup.
The result was a savory, gooey sandwich that hit all of my French onion soup requirements. Even better, it came together in less than 45 minutes, a substantial time-saver when compared to the classic soup recipe’s 72 hours. And while my fiance was miffed at the whole “is it soup or a sandwich?” concept at first, after one bite he was sold.
Either way, this hearty grilled cheese will be a winter favorite in our house for years.
MELT 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to turn light golden, about 10-15 minutes. Continue to cook without stirring, until a brown crust starts to form. Add a splash of water and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the water evaporates. Repeat this two or three times, until the onions are golden brown and very tender.
POUR the sherry into the pan with the onions and continue cooking until it has completely evaporated. Add the beef stock and thyme. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the stock has reduced by half, about 3-5 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper.
HEAT a griddle or nonstick skillet on medium heat. Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter on one side of each bread slice. Place two pieces of bread, butter side down, on the skillet. Add a handful of Gruyere, followed by a generous heap of onion mixture (it can be a little messy, in a good way). Top with the remaining bread slices, butter side up, and cook, flipping once, until cheese is melted and each side is golden brown.
NOTE: This sandwich also good served open-faced. YIELD: 2 servings.
Nealey Dozier is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a blog for people who love food and home cooking.