Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 3 hours
1 cup (2 sticks/255 g) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup (120 ml) canola oil
5 red onions, sliced 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
5 Vidalia onions, sliced 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
5 yellow onions, sliced 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
15 shallots, peeled
2 cups (480 ml) Madeira wine
1 cup (240 ml) port wine
1 cup (240 ml) sherry wine
10 cipollini onions, peeled and sliced
20 red pearl onions, peeled and sliced
4 quarts (3.8 L) beef stock
1 bunch thyme
2 bay leaves
1 loaf good sourdough bread
2 pounds (910 g) good Emmental cheese
1. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 1 cup (2 sticks) butter and 1/2 cup canola oil. Add the red, Vidalia, and yellow onions; season heavily with salt. It will take some time to cook down—you need to leave the onions alone a few minutes so they start steaming and cooking. Then stir and let steam. You’ll see it takes about 15 minutes for these raw sliced onions to cook down. Be sure to stir them every few minutes.
2. Once the onions are translucent, turn down the heat to low; this is where the patience comes into play. Stir every few minutes until the onions start to caramelize. Add the shallots. Cook on the lowest heat possible for as long as you can without burning the onions. You’ll find that a lot of sugar comes out of them and they may stick. You can add a little bit of water if necessary.
3. Once the onions are dark brown (almost like an old mop) and caramelized, after almost 2 hours, they’re ready for the wine. Add the Madeira, port, and sherry, then stand back because the mixture may ignite. If it doesn’t, use one of those long matches and flambé the wine.
4. Add the cipollini and red pearl onions. Reduce the wine by half, then add the stock, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook 1 hour and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Now for the crostini: Preheat the broiler. Take that bread and, using a ring mold, cut out four circles that are the same size as the bowls you’re going to serve the soup in. In a medium pan set over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter; fry the bread circles like a grilled cheese but take it a little further—make sure the bread is super golden brown. Season with some salt and pepper and place on a paper towel–lined plate.
6. Remove the bay leaves from the soup. Ladle into oven-safe bowls, place the crostini on top, and add a big pile of cheese. Place the soup on a baking sheet and broil on the middle rack so the cheese melts and turns golden brown and bubbly but doesn’t burn. Remove the soup and have at it!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This recipe has been reprinted by permission of the author from Matty Matheson: A Cookbook.