Brunching at Balthazar in New York City is one of my fondest food memories. Last October, after a chilly morning of shopping in SoHo, my husband and I tucked into a cozy table for two and spent a leisurely afternoon enjoying delicious food and intimate conversation in the bustling brasserie. I indulged the onion soup gratinée and the goat cheese tart (and wine, always wine) while Phil sprung for the eggs benedict and a bloody mary.
I loved my dining experience at Balthazar so much that I asked for the cookbook for Christmas so that I could make the recipes at home, starting with their famous onion soup gratinée. I made a big pot on Sunday afternoon and ate it every night this week with a glass of wine and freshly sliced French bread. C’était délicieux!
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
4 medium yellow onions, peeled, halved through the stem end, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
4 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 cup port
6 slices of country bread, about 1 inch thick, toasted
2 cups Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
In a 5-quart Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the onions and, stirring frequently to prevent burning, sauté until they reach a golden color, approximately 30 minutes. Add the butter, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the white wine, bring to a boil, and reduce the wine by half, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 45 minutes.
Preheat the broiler.
Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf, and swirl the port into the finished soup. Ladle the soup into 6 ovenproof bowls. Fit the toasted bread into the bowls on top of the liquid, and sprinkle 1/3 cup of Gruyère onto each slice. Place under the broiler for 3 minutes, or until the cheese melts to a crispy golden brown. Allow the soup to cool slightly, about 3 minutes, before serving. Bowls will be very hot.