From Martha Bayne
[Ed: A few weeks ago Martin Lemos, farm manager at the Green Earth Institute in Naperville, gifted me with a giant bag of red onions. So nice! But, what to do with them? This recipe, from the September 2008 issue of Gourmet, provided the answer. I quadrupled the quantities, but may not have actually used 8 pounds of onions, as after a certain point my eyes were swollen and burning and I just gave up. I also used Gruyere rather than Manchego, as the Manchego was ridiculously expensive, and, for obvious reasons, had to forego melting the cheese in the broiler. The results were … satisfying. The most common adjective applied to this soup seemed to be “subtle,” with “delicate” running a close second. I translated both to mean “needs salt.”]
Ingredients2 cups chicken broth 2 cups water 2 whole star anise 6 black peppercorns 2 pounds red onions, cut into 1/2-inch wedges 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 cup dry red wine 4 (1-inch-thick) slices of baguette 2 cups coarsely grated Manchego or Gruyère (6 to 7 ounces)
Bring broth, water, spices, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook onions in oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a heavy medium pot over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until deep golden, about 15 minutes. Add wine and boil, uncovered, until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 1 minute.
Strain broth through a sieve into the onions and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Season with salt. (Yes. Do.)
Preheat broiler. (Or, not.)
Ladle soup into 4 ovenproof bowls set in a 4-sided sheet pan. Place baguette slices on top and sprinkle each with 1/2 cup cheese. Broil about 6 inches from heat until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 2 minutes. (Or, ladle soup into bowls. Top with a slice of baguette and a sprinkle of grated cheese. Stir to incorporate until cheese melts.)