So, here's the how to (thanks to Alton) and you too can wow your friends!
French Onion Soup
5 sweet onions (like Vidalias) or a combination of sweet and red onions (about 4 pounds)
3 T butter
1 t salt
2 cups white wine (use good wine that you would drink)
10 oz. canned beef consume
10 oz. chicken broth
10 oz. apple cider (unfiltered is best, but I used the clear kind as it's easier for me to find)
Bouquet garni; thyme sprigs, bay leaf and parsley tied together with kitchen string
1 loaf country style bread
Ground black pepper
Splash of Cognac (optional but really does add a lot of dimension. I use Hennessey.)
1 c Fontina or Gruyere cheese, grated
Slice all of the onions and expect to cry! I have a cheap slicer that's pretty slick. Just be careful not to cut yourself. NO one wants fingernails in their soup either so use the little safety handle. Cut onions in half and then slice into thin moons.
Preheat your electric skillet to 300 degrees F. Yes, this is something you should get for this recipe. They don't cost a lot and they have so many uses! It's awesome and keeps a constant even heat. Plus the nonstick makes clean up a breeze. Add the butter and when it's melted and begins to sizzle add some onions. You're going to put into the pan in layers all the while sprinkling a little Kosher salt in between each layer. Do this in roughly three layers.
Slap the lid on, set your timer to 20 minutes and LEAVE IT ALONE. You will be caramelizing (literally burning) the onions, but this is good!
After the 20 minutes are up you will see the onions taking on a lovely color. Stir and then keep caramelizing for the next 45 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. They will take on a beautiful mahogany color and smell divine! You should have approximately 2 cups of onions when you're done.
Add wine and turn the heat to high reduce the wine to a syrup consistency. Add consume, chicken broth, apple cider and bouquet garni. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
While the soup is simmering place oven rack in top 1/3 of oven and heat broiler. Cut country bread in rounds large enough to fit mouth of oven safe soup crocks. Place the slices on a baking sheet and place under broiler till brown. KEEP YOUR eye on it! I have burned these and it's not cool!
Season soup mixture with salt, pepper and cognac (this really does make it taste really good). Remove bouquet garni and ladle soup into crocks leaving one inch to the lip. Place bread round, toasted side down, on top of soup and top with grated cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbly and golden brown and delicious, 1 to 2 minutes. ENJOY!
This stuff freezes well so don't be afraid to make several batches if you want! Your house smells wonderful!!