Have you ever had French Onion Soup? I used to have a rather cynical point of view about it, myself. 
“Who wants wet bread??”, I always wondered– until one day when I had an idea for this recipe. After I tested it and tried it, I realized what I’d been missing out on. The bread becomes rich, flavorful, and tender– almost custard-y– as it soaks up the broth. Melted and subtly golden-browned cheese tops it all off and takes the flavor to a whole new level. It has to be the first broth-based soup to ever be decadent.
I wanted to put a twist on the classic, so I relocated the ethnic inspiration just a small stride southeast to Italy. This soup is excellent all winter long and is a new regular in my weeknight dinner rotation. It’s awesome after a first course of salad with my 5-Ingredient Pesto Vinaigrette

ItOn soup spoon no bread

Italian Onion Soup -serves about 6

3 lbs onions (about 6-7 medium onions), sliced
3 Tbsp canola oil
⅛ tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced (optional)
2 cloves sliced garlic (chopping works too)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3/4 tsp. dry (or tube) Italian herbs
1/2 C Pinot Grigio
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp regular or vegetarian chicken base
1 Tbsp regular or vegetarian beef base
6 C water

1 loaf sliced Italian baguette
Shredded Italian cheese blend, to taste
Fresh parsley, for garnish

Place a stockpot on medium-high heat and add oil, onions, baking soda, and salt. Stir, and cover pot with lid for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, remove cover, raise heat slightly, and stir. Cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping up any brown bits that form on the bottom or sides of the pan.
Once onions have become noticeably deeper in color, add fennel. Cook, stirring frequently until onions approximately resembles the color of a penny. 
Add garlic and tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes until garlic is no longer raw. 
Lower heat to medium-low, and stir in olive oil and Pinot Grigio, deglazing the pan and thoroughly scraping brown bits. 
Add Italian herbs, soup bases, and water, and stir thoroughly. Cover pot and let simmer about 20 minutes before serving.

For Topping:
Preheat broiler on low. Ladle soup into bowls. Cover soup with toasted baguette slices, followed by shredded cheese blend. Place on a baking sheet and beneath broiler until cheese is melted and golden, about 4 minutes. Carefully remove bowls and place each bowl on a plate. Bowls will be very hot!!! Add some chopped parsley for garnish and serve.

Note that there is room for variation and creativity in this recipe. You can use ciabatta or garlic bread instead of baguette, or you can add spinach or finely chopped rosemary. You can use whatever Italian ingredients you love! 

ItOn soup no spoon

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