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You’re walking along the banks of the Seine, a brisk wind blasts at your back, the gusts are getting stronger, your scarf untwirls from your neck and hat goes flying into the water……whatcha gonna do? Head for the nearest brasserie for that French comfort food mainstay: SOUPE A L’OIGNON AU FROMAGE.

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7 small yellow onions (about 5 pounds), sliced thin (small have more flavor)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 quart beef broth
1 qt chicken stock
1 jigger cognac (secret ingredient)
1/2 teaspoon sugar

3/4 pound coarsely grated Gruyère, Emmenthal, or Comté, twelve 1/2-inch-thick slices of baguette, toasted
2 cloves garlic

In a large cast iron pan melt the butter and saute the onions until they are a translucent carmel color. A few black crisp edges add some character and color to the soup. Stir in the flour. Transfer to a large soup pot and add the beef broth and chicken stock. Salt and pepper to taste. Add cognac and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Cover and simmer on low for 1/2 – 1 hour. Rub toasted baguette slices with garlic. At serving time ladle soup into individual ovenproof tureens, top with baguette and cheese, place under broiler until top is lightly browned. Vegetable broth can be substituted for the meat based broths.

This recipe originated from an old hotel kitchen in Mersch, Luxembourg that is part of my past. Madame Barthelemy was the owner and chef-in-charge. Her Green Bean Soup – Bou’neschlupp (potatos, bacon and cream) was also legendary.

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