French Onion Soup with Bavarian Limburger Toasts

French_Onion_IMG_1443This French onion soup will bring tears to your eyes. And I don’t mean from the onions. You’ll cry for joy in its simplicity and cry for more when you’ve reached the bottom of the bowl.

Though Limburger’s rusticity may belie its versatility, it is in fact a perfect match for this elegant soup. Forgo the wooden serving boards, the dark bread, and the beer, and break out the porcelain, silver, and Bordeaux for this Limburger pairing.

The caramelized onions are so sweet and aromatic it’s hard not to steal a sliver as they soften. Once they stick together, bathe the onions in rich beef broth, and spike them with cognac to create a luscious stew. The thick slices of bread, smothered by bubbling hot Limburger elevate this soup to entrée. The sprig of fresh thyme, an absolute necessity, lightens the flavors, and is a welcome teaser of the forthcoming green of spring.
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French Onion Soup with St. Mang Bavarian Limburger Toasts

3 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 lbs medium-sized yellow onions, thinly sliced
1½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. sugar (optional)
4 T flour
8 cups beef stock or mushroom stock
¾ cup white wine
¼ cup brandy (optional)
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Fresh thyme
Baguette
1 St. Mang Bavarian Limburger

1. In a large heavy pot over medium heat, heat the butter and oil, until the butter is melted. Add in the sliced onions. Give them a stir to coat them in the oil. Then turn down the heat to low, cover the pot, and leave them alone. (I know, it’s so tempting to lift the lid for a whiff and a poke, but to caramelize them properly, you’ll have to be hands-off for 15-20 minutes. Hang in there.)
2. After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, add the sugar if you are using, and the salt. Give the onions a stir and raise the heat a little (just before medium-low on the dial). Then let the onions continue to cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes until they are golden brown. As they cook, stir the onions occasionally, to ensure they don’t stick.
3. When the onions are golden brown and soft, sprinkle them with the flour and stir to coat. Turn up the heat a little more and add the wine. Let a little of the alcohol cook off, about a minute or two, and then add in the stock. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer and let cook, partially covered, for another 40 minutes. (Patience should be listed as an ingredient!)
4. Stir in the brandy. (This step is optional, but will add complexity to the soup’s flavors.)
5. Lightly toast slices of baguette.
6. Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls. Top each with two slices of toast. Set a slice of Limburger on top of each toast. Set each bowl in the broiler, and broil until the top of the cheese is bubbly about 2 minutes, but keep an eye on it! Note: If you don’t have ovenproof bowls, broil the Limburger on the toast before you add the toasts to the bowls.
7. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme and serve.