Tested in Alice Wootton’s Kitchen
This soup is sensational! It's perfect for a fall/winter gathering. Fennel bulbs, onions & Granny Smith apples can be found in the produce section at the Lost River Market & Deli. The original recipe didn't call for apples, but I added them one time because I had them and was hooked, so I've included them in this recipe. (For information regarding fennel, check out the Roasted Fennel recipe on this blog.) We are also lucky enough to carry Gruyere cheese. You could substitute Parmesan or even blue cheese, if you wish. Be sure to use a wine you would drink and not "cooking wine" which is loaded with sodium and often has an off taste. You'll find very nice French bread at the store as well.
Gruyère cheese [groo-YEHR, gree-YEHR] Swiss Gruyère is named for the valley of the same name in the canton of Fribourg. This moderate-fat, cow's-milk cheese has a rich, sweet, nutty flavor that is highly prized both for out-of-hand eating and cooking. It's usually aged for 10 to 12 months and has a golden brown rind and a firm, pale yellow interior with well-spaced, medium-size holes. It's made in 100-pound wheels that are cut into wedges for the market. Gruyère is also produced in France and several other countries.
3 T olive oil
8 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored, thinly sliced
1-2 Granny Smith apples (optional)
¼ t. sugar
7 cups beef broth (I use homemade when I can.)
½ cup dry white wine
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
¼ t. dried thyme
freshly ground pepper
French bread, sliced (optional)
¾ cup Gruyere cheese
2 T chopped fresh parsley
· In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté, tossing and turning frequently, for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
· Add the fennel, apples (if using) and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, for about 30-45 minutes, until the vegetables are caramelized.
· Add the broth, white wine, garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf.
· Preheat the broiler. Broil the bread for about 1 ½ to 2 minutes on each side or until golden, watching carefully to prevent burning.
· Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls. Place 2-3 toasts on top of each and sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Broil until the cheese is golden brown. Sprinkle a little chopped parsley over each soup bowl, and serve immediately.
*This may be prepared through step 3 up to 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Reheat gently. This soup also freezes well.