Calorie Friendly Comfort Food

There’s something truly comforting about a bowl of soup and something even more comforting when that soup is covered with cheese. My mom has been making this easy French onion soup since I can remember. After my parents contentious divorce my dad would still get cravings for it–it’s that good. And while it’s neither complicated nor pretentious, this recipe still tastes fancy and makes you feel with each and every bite like everything is right in the world. And considering how rich it tastes and the fact that it’s made with butter and cheese, this soup is still pretty low in calories (though those calories do come from fat).

The “trick” to making a flavorful soup is to use sweet onions. I swear by them. Whether it’s a Vidalia from Georgia or a Maui Sweet, caramelizing a premium onion will make your soup taste that much better. When I’ve got beef stock made I like to use my own, but using Better Than Bouillon (pictured above) will still yield a much more flavorful soup base than using a canned or boxed broth. Traditionally the French used croutons, but I’m a big fan of a slab of Texas toast (which tastes even better if you slather it in garlic before toasting it). The only thing that would make this soup better is having crocks–all I have is bowls so I’m not able to get that cheese-dripping-off-everything look that a restaurant version will have.

French Onion Soup
–2 lbs. sweet onions, thinly sliced into rounds and separated into rings

–1/2 stick of butter, divided
–4 cups condensed beef broth
–1 1/2 TBSP Worcestershire
–salt and pepper to taste
–8 slices french bread or Texas toast, toasted
–Parmesan or Gruyere cheese, either 4 oz. grated or 6 thin slices

In a stock pot with a tight-fitting lid, melt half of the butter over medium heat. While the butter melts, line the pot with the onion rounds. Top the onions with the remaining butter. Cover and cook the onion slices in the butter until tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the beef broth, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper to the pot. Bring to a roiling boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes before scooping soup into bowls.

Classic french onion soup is served with the bread on the top. Every inch of the bread has been covered with cheese and the crock is then stuck under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese and give the dish a nice crust. I have recently purchased a crème brulée torch to test out on future soup-making adventures. I’ll let you know how that goes…

For this version, I topped each soup bowl with a piece of toasted garlic-smeared Texas toast before covering the open surface (toast, soup and all) will grated Parmesan cheese. Just pop a tray of trussed up soup bowls into the oven and broil for a few minutes until the cheese melts and browns slightly.

If you’re looking to shake it up (or you don’t have oven-safe bowls to broil in), here’s an alternate approach: Sprinkle cheese onto toast and broil until cheese is lightly browned. Place the toast in the bowl and spoon onion-packed soup on top of it. You rebel!

Dammit Jim, I’m a cook, not a doctor…
Time: 55 minutes
Serves: 6
Calories: 377 per serving

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