The cold weather is definitely upon us here in the Northeast and there’s nothing better than a good bowl of hot soup to warm the soul. In the next couple of weeks I’ve got some great soup recipes to share with you and maybe not so ironically enough, they all come from Ina Garten. I’ve been a big fan of Ina’s soups for a while now and it was actually her recipes that made me so comfortable making soup. Believe it or not, I once thought it was difficult!
Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin comes from Ina’s new[ish] cookbook, How Easy Is That? and was one of the Barefoot Bloggers’ November recipes. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’ve never eaten any kind of onion soup before so I definitely was on board for this recipe. And the timing of my making it perfectly coincided with my cousin’s (the soup maven) visit a couple of weekends ago. She’s a connoisseur of onion soup and this one has her (and my!) stamp of approval. While the recipe does take almost 2 hours to make from start to finish, the technique is basic. It’s a full-bodied broth-based soup that’s loaded with wine, Cognac, and sherry (they all cook down beautifully) and the addition of toasted bread and melted Gruyere easily puts it in the dinner or heavy lunch categories. As the title indicates, fennel is a main ingredient but I honestly think you could make the soup without it sans any ill effects on the flavor. I think you should set some time aside soon to make this one!
How about some of my other favorite Barefoot Contessa soup recipes?
Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin
source: Ina Garten, How Easy Is That?
- 4 Tbs unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 lbs Spanish onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 2 lbs fennel, tops and cores removed, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/2 cup dry sherry
- 1/2 cup Cognac or brandy
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 8 cups beef broth
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 Tbs kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small sourdough or white French boule, crusts removed and sliced 1/2 in thick, toasted
- 4 to 6 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated
Heat butter and olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fennel, and cook over medium heat 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn golden-brown.
Add the sherry and Cognac, scraping up the browned bits in the pan, and simmer uncovered about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes. Add the beef broth, bay leaves, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and taste for seasoning.
Preheat the broiler with a rack 5 inches below the broiler and ladle the soup into heat-proof serving bowls. Top with the toasted bread, sprinkle generously with grated cheese, and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve hot.