Italian Onion Soup
Baked French onion soup. Who hasn’t been ordering that since they were a kid?
As far as I can recall, that was the first “adult” thing I ordered in a restaurant when I was a kid.
Seeing all that cheese baked over the top of the crock. Getting to that soggy crouton underneath. Mmmm. That was good eating.
All that cheese and bread made it worth having to eat all those onions. But as I grew up and the novelty wore off, I ordered it less and less.
I do still enjoy it, but I’ve gotten a few “bad bowls” of it over the years. So I tend to not order it when I am out. Plus…who can eat all that and then a meal. That is a mean.
Last year, I thought I’d give it a try myself, but instead of French Onion, I put more of an Italian spin on it and made my own “Italian Onion Soup”.
It doesn’t roll off the tongue like French Onion, but damn is it good. And simple to boot.
6 cups beef stock
1 large sweet onion (cut in 1/2 and then sliced)
1 large white onion (cut in 1/2 and then sliced)
2 cloves garlic (pressed)
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp oregano
Grated Fontinella (about 3 cups)
Grated Romano cheese (about ¼ cup)
Salt and pepper
Large Ciabatta bread crouton
TIP: I suggest you make the croutons in advance of making the soup.
Or you can do it while the soup is simmering. Either way, have them ready to go when you need them.
You can read how to make them here: Ciabatta Bread Crouton.
If you really have some time on your hands, you can make your own hearty beef stock. Which I did when I made this one. It adds more complexity to the flavor of the soup.
if you don’t have time, pre-made beef stock will do.
Heat oil in a large pot on medium.
When the oil is hot, add the onions and salt and pepper. Sauté until they begin to soften. About 10 minutes. (DO NOT BROWN!)
Add thyme, oregano and garlic. Continue to sauté for another 2 minutes stirring frequently, so the garlic cooks a bit but does not brown or burn.
Add your stock. Turn the heat to low and let it simmer for an hour.
TIP: After about 15 minutes of simmering, taste the broth and adjust with salt and pepper.
Ladle into oven safe bowls (or crocks) and drop your Ciabatta bread crouton on top.
Cover with Fontinella cheese and top with a little grated Romano cheese.
Personally, I just like enough cheese to cover the bread. I don’t overload the top, so it’s dripping down the bowl. It’s just too much cheese.
Place bowls on a sheet pan and under a broiler for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. (You can keep it under until cheese is brown if you like.)
Use pot holders to remove sheet pan. Top with a little more grated Romano cheese (And chopped chives if you like) and serve.
The Ciabatta bread has a great chewy crust to it, which stands up to the liquid in the soup. Because of this, you should serve this soup with a fork and knife as well as a spoon.
An alternative to the large crouton is to use a bunch of little ones. It’s easier to eat, but lacks the presentation value that impresses your guests.