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Eric Akis: Hearty, creamy-style onion soup has a comforting taste and texture

Try this hearty, creamy-style onion soup topped with cheesy, toasted rounds of baguette.
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This rich, creamy-style onion soup is topped with melted cheese and croutons. ERIC AKIS

For those of you who are long time followers of my column, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of onion soup. And, thanks to your feedback, I’ve learned many readers are too.

As a result, over the years I offered a variety of recipes for it. In the past they’ve included one for classic French-style onion soup gratinée, and one where I enhanced the soup with Champagne. In another recipe for the soup, I roasted the onions for it in the oven, rather than sautéing them in a pot, like I most often do.

Today I’m introducing you to a creamy-style of onion soup. It’s made by sautéing sliced onions until tender and almost caramel-like. Flour is mixed in creating a roux, along with some Dijon mustard, garlic and thyme, for flavouring. Stock and milk are stirred in, and when simmered, you have a hearty, thickened, creamy-style of onion soup with a comforting taste and texture.

Things get even better, though, when just before serving the soup you top bowls of it with rounds of baguette, toasted and topped with melted, tangy cheese. And the latter could be farmhouse, Swiss, emmental or aged white cheddar cheese, depending on your preference.

My recipe yields two generous servings and could be served for lunch or dinner. The recipe could be doubled or further expanded, if feeding a larger group. When I enjoyed it, I had a little bit of pate as starter before the soup, creating kind of a French bistro-style meal.

Note: In my recipe for butternut squash risotto, which appeared in last Wednesday’s newspaper, the amount of garlic required was missing from ingredient list. It is one medium garlic clove, minced. Sorry about the missing information.

Creamy Onion Soup with Cheesy Croutons

Hearty, creamy-style onion soup topped with cheesy, toasted rounds of baguette.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: about 30 minutes

Makes: two generous servings

3 Tbsp butter or olive oil

2 cups thinly sliced white or yellow onion (about 1 large, or 2 small to medium, onions, cut in half and thinly sliced)

4 to 6 (1/2-inch thick) rounds of baguette

3/4 cup grated farmhouse, Swiss, emmental or aged white cheddar cheese, or to taste (see Note)

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable stock or broth

1 1/4 cups milk

• salt and ground white pepper, to taste

1 to 2 tsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Melt the butter in, or add the oil too, a medium-sized pot set over medium heat (my pot was eight inches wide). Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, and almost caramel-like and sticky, about 10 minutes.

While onions cook, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set on the baguette rounds. Mound and top each round with some of the cheese. Set the pan aside for now. Preheat oven to 375 F.

When onions are cooked, stir in the flour, garlic, mustard and thyme and cook one minute. Now slowly mix in 1/2 cup of the stock (or broth). When mixture becomes thick, slowly mix in the remaining stock (or broth) and the milk. Bring the soup to a gentle simmer. Simmer the soup 10 minutes, and then season with salt and pepper.

When soup is almost ready, pop the baguette rounds into the oven and bake for six to eight minutes, or until the baguette is lightly toasted and the cheese is melted.

When soup is ready, ladle into – preferably – wide soup bowls. Set on cheese-topped baguette rounds, sprinkle with parsley, if using, and serve.

Note: I used tangy, richly flavoured, farmhouse cheese when testing this recipe. Courtenay’s Natural Pasture Cheese Company makes it. For a list of stores selling it, go to naturalpastures.com.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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