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I am a fool for some good French onion soup. Unfortunately, most of the common restaurant fare is thin, salty and vacuous. It seems as though they just dumped some onions in some beef broth, let it reduce a little, then dish it up with a slab of bread and a glob of cheese.

You might think that this recipe looks like what I just described. What I am trying to do here is strike a balance between the real 'from scratch' thing and something that the average Joe can whip up in relatively short order. I wanted it to burst with flavor and richness, but with minimal effort.

OK, put on your best French pseudo-chef hat and let's get after it.

Ingredients

2 cups red onion, chopped medium (3/4")
1 can (10.5 oz) Beef consomme (Campbell's, of course)
1 can (10.5 oz) Beef broth (again, Campbell's)
1 1/4 cup Water
3 Tbsp Ketchup (Heinz, of course)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh

1 cup Croutons, plain
1 cup Gruyere or Swiss cheese, grated

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Method

Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat.

Add the oil and let it heat for 30 seconds.

Add the onions, salt and pepper, and mix well.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they become very tender and caramelize (turn light brown -- not burnt). This will take approximately 30 minutes.

Whisk the consomme, broth, water and ketchup in a mixing bowl until the ketchup is completely incorporated.

Add the liquid to the pan and stir to combine.

Simmer the soup uncovered at medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Taste and add more salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the soup into three equal servings (approximately 1 1/4 cup each) in oven-safe bowls.

Top each bowl with 1/3 of the croutons and then 1/3 of the cheese.

Put the bowls on a sheet pan and bake at broil until the cheese just starts to brown.

Remove from the oven, let stand five minutes then serve.

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