Onion Soup with Mushrooms-Serves 10
6 large brown onions, quartered and sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
10 oz. small crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 apple, cored, peeled and julienne cut
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup Madiera wine or dry sherry
1 sourdough baugette, cut into cubes and toasted
8 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon vegetarian beef base or 6 cups beef broth
Optional: 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Get the onions cooking over medium high heat in a large dutch oven or pot by melting the butter, adding the onions, and stirring frequently for several minutes. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until the onions brown (watch the heat so they don't burn) for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, slice the mushrooms and julienne cut the apple.
After the onions caramelize, add the mushrooms, apple and pepper, and cook for another few minutes until the mushrooms wilt a little, then add 1/2 cup wine and loosen the brown bits at the bottom of the pan with your spatula or spoon. Add 8 cups of water and 2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon beef base or 6 cups beef broth. If you're using the optional apple cider, put it in now. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
Preheat broiler and cut the sourdough baguette into cubes and broil until lightly browned, about 1 minute on each side.
Preheat oven to 500ºF.
If using the optional sherry vinegar, add it now. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Using oven safe bowls, ladle soup into bowls placed on a baking sheet, put a few pieces of sourdough cubes on top of the soup and sprinkle with grated Gruyere. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.