My onion soup recipe is in my first cookbook, Levana’s Table
I always thought I made a good onion soup, if I may say so myself. Mine lists Swiss cheese, provolone and parmesan. But I recently received from my daughter Bella a magnificent wheel of Manchego, and decided to replace all the cheeses I usually put in with just a grated hunk of manchego: Let me tell you: It was out of this world, even though the cheese completely melted and was not visible in the soup! So here comes the recipe, just as it appears in my cookbook, but with the Manchego-only option!
Onion soup posed a unique challenge for me.
And of course I love a good challenge, so I was determined to beat it. The two trademarks of a perfect classic onion soup (besides, of course, the onions!) are the rich beef broth that serves as its base, and the cheese that melts into it, meaning, of course, a taboo in kosher kitchens!
I was not about to stand defeated, so I experimented endlessly, and bingo: A mixture of brown miso paste and dry red wine was my answer: I obtained a deep-flavored, luxurious-tasting and richly-colored broth, a perfect foil for those caramelized onions and smoked cheeses. When you try this, you will understand my feeling of triumph. My food spies from the non-kosher world have issued a unanimous verdict:
“I can’t believe this is a meatless soup!”
I have included several members of the onion family to make it even more glorious.
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 large onions, peeled and cut in large chunks
- 4 large shallots, peeled
- 2 large leeks, white parts only, sliced
- 6 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1/2 cup brown miso paste
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only, or 1 teaspoon dry
- 1 cup grated Swiss cheese
- 1 cup smoked Provolone cheese, cut in small chunks
- 1 cup grated parmesan (or replace all three cheeses with 3 cups grated manchego)
- good pinch nutmeg
- freshly grated ground pepper. (no added salt, as the cheeses and the miso are already salty)
- a dozen slices baguette, cut on the bias, toasted in a 375*F oven until light brown and crisp (optional)
Heat the oil in a heavy pot. Coarsely grind the onions, shallots, leeks and garlic, and fry over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until dark. Add the sugar and cook for 2 more minutes until caramelized. Add the wine, miso, thyme, and 2½ quarts (10 cups) water and cook for another 30 minutes. Add the cheeses, nutmeg and pepper, and cook for another minute, until the cheese is melted. To serve, pour into soup bowls and float one slice of toasted baguette in each bowl, if using.