frenchonion1For some unknown reason I’ve been hoarding soup recipes all year. I’ve been slow to post recipes anyway, but the number of soups I’ve made or have on my To Cook wishlist just calls out for a week of posts on the subject. So that’s what I’m going to do. Post a soup recipe every day this week. Some will be stews, some I made so long ago I’ll need to track down the recipe. But all will be delicious.

I debated saving this one for last because it just stands head and shoulders above the others. It’s a Geoffrey Zakarian recipe from¬†Food Network Magazine,¬†and it is worth every second of prep time. Which really isn’t that bad since there’s a lot of slow cooking here. The soup itself, without cheese and bread, froze well enough that we were able to have this for dinner a couple of times when I made it back in the spring. It will be back on the dinner table very, very soon.

French Onion Soup with Braised Short Ribs (original here)

2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 carrot, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
4 sprigs thyme, plus 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
6 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 stick unsalted butter
6 Spanish onions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup dry sherry
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
12 slices sourdough bread, toasted
12 slices high-quality gruyere cheese (about 6 ounces)
Chopped fresh chives, for topping

Braise the short ribs: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Toss the short ribs with the flour and season liberally with salt and pepper.

frenchonion2Heat the canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the short ribs and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.

frenchonion3Transfer to a plate.

Add the carrot, chopped onion and leek to the pot and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

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Return the short ribs to the pot and stir in the thyme sprigs, bay leaf, garlic and tomato paste.

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Add the wine and bring to a simmer, then cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

frenchonion6Add the stock and return to a simmer.

frenchonion7Cover, transfer to the oven and braise until the short ribs are falling off the bone, 2 hours, 30 minutes to 3 hours.

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Meanwhile, caramelize the onions: Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper.

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Cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 2 hours, 30 minutes. (Add a splash of water and scrape up any browned bits from the pot, if necessary.)

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When the short ribs are done, remove from the broth with a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate and let cool slightly.

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Strain the broth, discarding the solids.

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Shred the meat, discarding the bones, and toss with 1 cup of the broth. Reserve the remaining broth.

frenchonion13Add the thyme leaves and sherry to the caramelized onions. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

frenchonion14Add the reserved broth and cook 30 more minutes.

frenchonion15Season with salt and pepper. Skim the fat from the top of the soup. Stir in the vinegar.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Divide the soup among 6 ovenproof bowls (in our case two jumbo souffle ramekins); spoon about 1/3 cup shredded meat into the center of each.

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frenchonion16Top each with 2 slices toast, trimming the bread if necessary.

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Top each with 2 slices cheese (I shredded my cheese), letting the cheese hang over the side of the bowl.

Transfer to the oven and bake until golden and bubbly, about 10 minutes.

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Top with chives (we skipped that part).