French onion soup is one of the first things you make in culinary school, and it is really only about two things: the onions and the stock. The key to perfectly caramelized onions is patience; they must be cooked very low and very slow. The bacon stock sets this soup apart from the classic veal stock versions and, dare I say, elevates it to new status. This recipe is close to the one I learned at the French Culinary Institute years ago, except for the addition of bacon, of course.
In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and spread them out in as thin a layer as possible and cook, stirring as needed to keep the onions from sticking, until they are very soft, a deep golden brown, and caramelized, about 1 hour.
Stir in the sherry and cook until completely reduced. Add the beef or chicken broth, bacon stock, base, and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, to allow the flavors to combine. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs.
Meanwhile, lightly toast the bread under the broiler; set aside. Ladle the hot soup into eight ovenproof bowls. Arrange the bowls on a baking pan and place
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