French Onion Soup

4 main course or 8 appetizer servings.

1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp. sugar
7 c. beef broth
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, room temperature*

1/4 c. dry sherry (optional)
8 large Spanish onions (4 lb.), sliced
8 (i inch) thick slices French bread
2 oz. Gruyere cheese, chilled*

Melt butter in stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add sliced onion.   Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Add sugar, increase heat to medium-high and cook until onion is brown and caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Stir in broth, salt and pepper and simmer 15 minutes.  (Soup can be prepared to this point up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated).

Preheat oven to 350F.  Arrange slice on baking sheet and bake until dry and browned, 15 minutes.

Reheat soup if necessary.  Stir in sherry; preheat broiler.  Divide bread among heatproof soup bowls and ladle hot soup over.   Sprinkle each serving with some of cheese mixture. 

Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat source until top is browned and cheese is melted.

*If food processor is available - shred Parmesan, using light pressure, repeat with Gruyere cheese.

Captain Emil Bowerman