'Quick-ish' Onion Soup and Spinach Salad
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- 4 tablespoons butter
- 6 large or 10 medium onions, quartered, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- A small handful thyme stems, tied with string
- Salt and finely ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 cans beef consommé or 3 tablespoons demi-glace and 3 cups water
- 1 quart beef stock or broth
- 8 slices from a 3-inch round batard or Italian bread, cut into one-inch thick slices
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups each shredded Emmentaler and Gruyère cheese
- 9 slices of meaty bacon, divided
- 4 large eggs
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and pepper
- About 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- About 3 tablespoons white Balsamic vinegar or wine vinegar
- 3/4 pound medium-sized leaf spinach, cleaned and stemmed (if weighing with stems, buy 1/4 pound per bundle—I usually buy 2 bundles)
- 2 spring onions, 4 scallions or 1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
- 4 large white mushrooms, very thinly sliced
- 1 cup smoked blue cheese crumbles (I use Oscar’s Smokehouse)
For the soup, heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat and melt butter. Fill pot with onions, bay, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic. Place a lid over half of the pot and sweat onions until deeply caramel and soft, 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add consommé or demi-glace and water, and dissolve. Add stock or broth, bring to simmer and cook for 30 minutes at a low simmer.
While the soup is simmering, preheat oven to 400°F and bake 8 slices on a slotted pan or wire rack set on a baking sheet to crisp, 12-15 minutes. Remove, raise heat to broil for bread.
Place eggs in a medium saucepot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Cold-shock the eggs, peel and cut into quarters lengthwise.
For the croutons, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and toast bread under broiler on a rack in the center of the oven until light golden. Raise rack 1 notch and cover rounds with cheeses. Broil to brown and bubbly.
Mince remaining slice of bacon, add to a skillet and render over medium-high heat for 2 minutes while stirring. Add shallots and garlic, and stir 3 minutes more. Stir in sugar, black pepper and Dijon, then whisk in vinegar and EVOO. Remove pan from heat and add spinach in bunches, wilting it a bit but keeping it tender-crisp. Toss in mushrooms and onions and top with blue cheese crumbles and eggs.
Serve soup in crock-shaped bowls topped with croutons, with the spinach salad alongside or in separate shallow dishes.
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