An one-pot explosion of comfort and flavour!
I’m convinced this is the dish that’s going to get me through this winter. The addition of slivered beef and pasta to a classic French onion soup base makes for an out of this world, hearty and flavourful meal. Even better, it’s prepared in one pot on the stove, then finished with a quick trip under the broiler. My taste testers were literally speechless while devouring this dish; as soon as they’d just about licked their plates clean, they requested I make it again this week. You can substitute chicken for beef if you like, or omit the meat entirely. If you don’t have a large enough oven-safe pot, simply prepare the dish on the stovetop then transfer the mixture to a casserole dish, add topping and broil. For a more elegant presentation, why not assemble single-serving sized casserole dishes? If you want to go old-school and just make French onion soup, here’s my tried-and-true recipe, upon which this new dish is based.
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
- 3 pounds (1.4 kg) onions, sliced *
- 6 slices of French bread, cut in 3/4 inch (2 cm) cubes
- 1 pound (454 g) beef steak (I used sirloin), in 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) pieces)
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) flour
- 6 cups (1.5 L) beef broth
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) brandy
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL)Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) dried thyme leaves
- 4 cups (1 L) uncooked fusilli pasta
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 cups (500 mL) grated mozzarella
- 1 cup (250 mL) grated Emmental (Swiss) Cheese
* large Spanish onions typically weigh about 1 lb / 454 g each; I use them for this dish
- In a large, heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
- Add onions and pinch of salt.
- Cover pan and sauté until onions are very soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. To caramelize the onions, remove the pan’s lid and increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring often, onions begin to take on a golden brown hue (10 – 15 minutes).
- While onions are cooking, arrange bread cubes on a baking sheet and lightly toast in a 250F oven until just starting to get crunchy. Set aside and let cool.
- Once onions are caramelized, add sliced beef to pot and cook, stirring often, until beef is cooked (about 3 – 5 minutes).
- Reduce heat to medium; add flour and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
- Add beef broth, wine, brandy, mustard and thyme. Stir to blend well. Dish can be prepared to this point and left to sit at room temperature for up to 3 hours, or refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
- About 30 minutes before ready to serve, bring soup mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Add pasta and cook, stirring often, until done (about 20 minutes for fusilli; other pasta shapes may take a different amount of time).
- Just before pasta is cooked to al dente (just tender), preheat broiler, ensuring the rack is positioned to accommodate the pot.
- When pasta is al dente, season the broth to taste with salt and pepper.
- Combine mozzarella and Swiss cheeses in a small bowl.
- Stir 1 cup (250 mL) of the cheese mixture into the pot then top the pasta and soup mixture with prepared bread cubes. Scatter remaining cheese evenly over the bread cubes.
- Place in the oven and broil just until cheese melts and bread cubes begin to brown.