Cold rainy days always make me want soup. I love the way the house smells with a big pot of soup simmering on the stove and I love the delicious, piping hot result even more. I was having visions of French onion soup from the moment the rain on the window woke me up. French onion soup is one of my favorite things in the world. I’m on a quest to find the best one; I order it every time I see it on a menu. One of my favorite memories ever was exploring Paris with Brian in the snow, going from cafe to cafe ordering soupe à l’oignon gratinée (they leave the “French” part off there because you can take that for granted) and croque monsieur. We’d get a bottle of wine and sit for a couple hours and revel in the Parisian-ness of it all. I can’t think about it too much without reaching for my passport.
I have to say, I think one of the best versions of the croque monsieur comes from Tartine in the Mission. The problem is that if you go early enough to avoid the ridiculous and infuriating line that usually stretches halfway down the block, you’re too early for croque monsieur. I found a similar recipe on food.com and made some adjustments. I ended up using Swiss cheese instead of gruyere because that’s what was in the fridge, the key is the béchamel sauce. To round it out, I pickled some carrots to go on the side. The soup started from a recipe I found at All Recipes.
French Onion Soup
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 5 medium yellow onions, sliced
- 5 1/4 cups of rich beef stock
- 2 Tbsp dry sherry
- 3/4 cup red wine
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 cup Swiss cheese, grated
- 1/2 Parmesan cheese, grated
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 4 slices of rustic bread, toasted
- Melt butter with olive oil in an 8 quart stock pot on medium heat. Add onions and continually stir until tender and translucent. Continue cooking on medium-high heat until onions begin to brown (about 45 minutes).
- Add beef broth, sherry, wine, garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oven broiler.
- Ladle soup into oven safe serving bowls and place one slice of toasted bread on top of each. Layer each slice of bread with a mixture of the grated cheeses. Place bowls on cookie sheet and broil in the preheated oven until cheese bubbles and browns slightly.
Weight Watchers Points Plus Value: 12
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp pastis (I used absinthe)
- 1 cup Swiss cheese, grated (divided use)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 4 thick slices country French bread
- 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 6 ounces applewood-smoked ham, thinly sliced
- 2 tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 400.
To Make Bechamel Soubise Sauce
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and sweat the garlic and onions over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the flour all at once, whisking with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Stir in the hot cream and cook, whisking constantly, for 5 minutes or until sauce is thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in the salt. pepper, nutmeg, Pastis, 1/4 cup grated Swiss and the Parmesan; set aside.
To Assemble the Sandwiches
- Brush Dijon mustard evenly on one side of half the toasted bread slices. Slather each piece with the béchamel sauce. Divide ham evenly between the slices, top with sliced tomatoes and remaining cheese.
- Bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees F. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until cheese starts to brown.
- Cut in half and serve hot.
Weight Watchers Points Plus Value: 6
If you have leftovers, store them in the fridge over night, then heat them in the oven at 400 for ten minutes and top with a poached or fried egg for breakfast and you have croque madame.