Barefoot Contessa's Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin is a deliciously rich soup - caramelized onions and fennel in a buttery beef broth, topped with savory cheese and a thick slice of bread. Enjoy it as an appetizer or a meal in and of itself.
3lbs.Spanish onionsquartered and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
2lbs.fenneltops and cores removed, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 1/2c.dry white wine
8c.low-sodium beef broth
1 1/2tsp.freshly ground black pepper
1small sourdough, white French boule, or baguettecut into 1/2 in thick slices
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.