When it’s cold outside, my definition of comfort food is a warm and rustic dish. This soup totally qualifies as such, especially when it’s served in individual earthenware bowls that stay hot.
This preparation is characteristic of the Aosta Valley, a small Italian region at the borders with France and Switzerland, on the western Alps. It can be considered a variation of the classic French onion soup that makes use of Fontina, a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese, which is local to the Aosta region.
As for the onion, the white variety works best thanks to the complex flavor it develops when roasted, which I find has hints of cabbage and fennel.
Part of the success of this dish is due to its layered construction and the resulting alternation of textures and flavors. Besides making for an appealing presentation and keeping the dish hot, the individual bowls also keep the layers into place.
- 1/2 white onion, sliced
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 Tbsp white flour
- 2 tick slices country bread
- 4 slices fontina (or swiss cheese)
- salt and black pepper
- 2 earthenware soup bowls, oven resistant
- In a pan, roast the onion in butter at medium heat for 3-5 minutes until golden.
- Sprinkle with flour and continue roasting for a couple more minutes, stir gently.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes without a lid to reduce.
- Meanwhile prepare 2 thik slices of fresh country bread, possibly with crust on one side. Trim them so that they fit tightly within the bowls.
- Adjust the onion soup with salt and pepper, then pour it in the two bowls.
- Add the bread, so that it lays overtop, crust downwards, barely touching the soup.
- Lay the cheese over the bread to fully cover it.
- Broil for 10-15 minutes until the cheese will be bubbly.
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