Why didn’t I think of this?! Enhancing the already rich decadent flavor of french onion soup with braised full-flavored short ribs- genius! And this dish is easily made primal by leaving out the bread topping, and if you like, you can still have the oozy bubbly cheese on top-just make sure to use a crock or bowl that has a more narrow opening than the size of your cheese slice. Really, you probably wont even notice there’s no bread since you’ll be too focused on the fact that this soup is loaded with flavors that will scintillate your umami taste buds. It really lifted my spirits when I was on the couch sick all weekend.
I halved the original recipe since I wasn’t cooking for a crowd, but it is easily doubled to serve 6. I also added more liquid since the broth cooks down quite a lot in the oven.
French Onion Soup with Braised Short Ribs (Adapted from Food Network Magazine) (Difficulty-Intermediate; Serves 4)
- 1 lb. organic free-range bone-in beef short ribs
- 1 Tbsp. arrow root powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp. organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ribs of organic celery, diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 organic leek, chopped
- 4 sprigs organic thyme, plus 1/2 Tbsp. thyme leaves
- 1 organic bay leaf
- 1/2 head garlic, halved crosswise
- 1 Tbsp. organic tomato paste
- 1/2-3/4 c. dry red wine
- 4-5 c. organic low-sodium beef stock
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 3 organic Spanish onions, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup dry sherry or Marsala cooking wine (sherry is the traditional ingredient for this soup, but I only had Marsala at home and I really loved the flavor it added)
- 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
- 4 slices organic sourdough bread, toasted (optional)
- 4 slices high-quality gruyere or swiss cheese
Braise the short ribs: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Toss the short ribs with the arrow root powder and season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the short ribs and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Add the celery, chopped onion and leek to the pot and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Return the short ribs to the pot and stir in the thyme sprigs, bay leaf, garlic and tomato paste. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, then cook until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the stock and return to a simmer. Cover, transfer to the oven, and braise until the short ribs are falling off the bone, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Meanwhile, caramelize the onions: Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 2 hours, 30 minutes. (Add a splash of water and scrape up any browned bits from the pot, if necessary.)
When the short ribs are done, remove from the broth with a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate and let cool slightly. Strain the broth, discarding the solids. Shred the meat, discarding the bones, and toss with 1 cup of the broth. Reserve the remaining broth.
Add the thyme leaves and sherry to the caramelized onions. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes; add the reserved broth and cook 30 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Skim the fat from the top of the soup. Stir in the sherry vinegar.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Divide the soup among 4 ovenproof bowls; spoon about 1/3 cup shredded meat into the center of each, then top each with a slice of the sourdough toast, trimming the bread if necessary. Top each with a slice of cheese, letting the cheese hang over the side of the bowl. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden and bubbly, about 10 minutes.