New Years’ has never really been something we celebrate in our home, we do Rosh Hashanah, yet it’s hard to avoid the fact that fireworks are blasting, balls dropping and champagne is flowing. So in our own pseudo-celebration we usually eat onion soup.
Why? Onion soup is work, there is no avoiding it, from the slicing to the browning of the onions it is labor-intensive. But here is my rationalizing. New Years’ has historically not been easy for Jews in Europe. So we will celebrate those very same Jews and their perseverance. One of the most ubiquitous flavors of Jewish cuisine the world over is onion, raw, fried, sauteed, braised, we are a people who love to flavor with onion. From the raw and sharp to the soft and sweet, onions and Jews have much in common. But more than everything else, we will cry with the raw and smile with the sweet, we will bite into the sharp and mellow in the soft.
Wishing us all a wonderful year ahead.
For caramelized onions:
- 1.5 kilo (3 pounds) onions, peeled, halved, and sliced through root end
- 180ml (3/4 cup) water, plus more as needed
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1.9 liters (8 cups) water
- 1 tablespoon plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 6 slices challah
- 225g (8 ounces) sharp cheese, grated
For caramelized onions:
1. Bring onions, 180ml (3/4 cup) water, oil, and salt to boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Cover and cook until water has evaporated and onions start to sizzle, about 10 minutes.
2. Uncover, reduce heat to medium-low, and using a spoon gently press onions into sides and bottom of saucepan. Cook, without stirring onions, for 30 seconds.
After 30 minutes stir onions, scraping from skillet, then gently press onions into sides and bottom of skillet again. Now stir every 5 minutes and add a couple of tablespoons of water whenever the bottom of the pan crusts over. Continue to cook as directed until the onions are an even dark walnut color, an additional 30-45 minutes longer. (Cooking times are only approximate.)
3. Onions can be made up to 3 days ahead of time. Just put back into large saucepan before building up soup.
1. Add the flour to caramelized onions and stir for two minutes. Add 1.9 liters (8 cups) water and thyme to the onions and bring to a boil. Lower heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
2. Add white wine and simmer 10 minutes longer. Taste for seasoning, adding salt as needed.
3. Meanwhile, position oven rack close to the broiler of your oven, and heat broiler. Arrange Challah slices on a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake until the bread is dry, crisp, and very lightly colored at the edges, about 2 minutes per side. Top the challah slices with greeted cheese and place back under the broiler for an additional 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
4. Ladle soup into bowls and top with cheese challah