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As the weather turns colder (we’re had snow flurries several times this week), I’ve been craving lots of soup. My freezer is stocked with Mom’s Italian Wedding Soup and Turkey Noodle Soup for lunch, but at the recommendation of Barefoot Bloggers, I recently tried my hand at making an onion soup – Ina’s Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin. I love it! It was easy, and my favorite part, it was not overly salty. I can’t wait to make another batch after the new year, perhaps served with Ina’s Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich on the side.

A couple of comments about this recipe. First, the recipe was supposed to serve 4-6. I have no idea where that number came from – this recipe made a huge batch, probably more like 8-12 servings as a soup course, depending on the size of the bowl you use.  The soup is freezable, so take advantage of that! Secondly, this was my first time working with and eating fennel, a vegetable that tastes like licorice when raw but loses the bitterness when cooked. I found a great link on Bon Appetit with instructions on how to chop fennel. Finally, the broth was a little flavorless. I added a couple extra bay leaves at the start of cooking, and a good teaspoon of pepper and tablespoon of kosher salt after cooking.

Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?

Serves 8-10


  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3 lbs. Spanish onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 lbs. fennel, tops and cores removed, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 c. dry sherry
  • 1/2 c. brandy
  • 1 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 8 c. low-sodium beef broth
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small sourdough or white French boule, crusts removed and sliced 1/2 in thick, toasted (I used a baguette)
  • 4-6 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated

In a large stock-pot over medium-high heat, melt butter and olive oil. Add onions and fennel and cook until golden-brown, 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently.

When browned, add sherry and brandy. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up bits from bottom of the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for another 15  minutes.

Add broth, bay leaves, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning. At this point, the broth was fairly flavorless. I added at least 1 tsp. pepper and 1 Tbs. kosher salt.

Preheat broiler. Pour soup into oven-safe serving bowls. Top with toasted bread and grated cheese. Broil for 3-5 minutes, until cheese is melted.

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Sunday Supper Movement