Drunken Onions With French Onion Pasta

Check out this Staub pot! The lid converts to a grill so you can be using both pieces for separate cooking functions. I’m in love with it! Today’s recipe fit the use of this Staub pot perfectly. I used the lid to grill the bread and the skillet side to cook the main ingredients of this recipe.  

French onion soup is a staple in our house in the winter. It is one of our favorite soups. And whenever I can add pasta to a soup, I do! I just can’t help myself… it’s in the Italian genes. This recipe was just begging for me to add pasta, and so I did. By doing so, it took French onion soup to a whole new level. 

You might wonder how drunken onions were included. Well, the fact is, the onions needed to caramelize for this soup to achieve the deep flavor I wanted. They can be caramelized with water, but I added brandy to the sweating/caramelizing process for more flavor. And why stop there? While I was intoxicating the onions, I added white wine. Oh yeah! The wine bottle was sitting on the counter so why not? 

Side bar here – wine graces our counters a lot in this household (in case you hadn’t already figured that out from previous posts). However, when the wine doesn’t measure up, it becomes cooking wine. We hope the bottle that gets designated to cooking wine was an inexpensive one, but that’s not always the case. In any event, I always find another use for it no matter what. A few examples: flavored salt, homemade wine/vinegar, wine jelly, or wine cheese ball. So, wine never goes to waste in this house!

The pasta I chose to include is orecchiette but you could use any small pasta. Orecchiette holds a special place in my heart because of my family roots in Bari where this pasta is made literally on the streets. Many people in the old part of town have a large opening from their kitchen where they can extend their space a little into the street. Here’s an example of one family making orecchiette. They leave the orecchiette on the screen sitting out in the street so the sun can dry it. 

Enough reminiscing and back to today’s recipe!

Toasting the bread on the grill lid which later will be topped with gruyere cheese and melted. Oh yeah!

Caramelizing the onions. The aroma from the wine and brandy cooking off with the onions is amazing!

Pasta added to the onion soup mixture.

Cheese added to the pasta.

Top the French onion pasta soup with toasted croutons smothered in cheese. Can I have an amen? The results ARE heavenly!

Drunken Onions With French Onion Pasta
 
Ingredients
  • CROUTONS
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups bread, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ⅔ cup Gruyere cheese
  • 1 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped fine
  • SOUP
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced I used white, can substitute sweet onions or combination of sweet, shallots, red and white)
  • 1 tablespoon buuter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • ⅓ cup brandy
  • ½ cup white wine I used sweet white wine
  • 2½ to 3 cups beef stock, amount depends on how "soupy" you want mixture
  • ½ pound cooked orecchiette or small pasta of preference
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sprinkle nutmeg
  •  
Instructions
  1. CROUTONS
  2. In the skillet, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and croutons. Mix to coat the croutons.
  3. Transfer to the skillet to toast in the oven.
  4. Mix cheese together with thyme. Sprinkle one-half of the cheese mixture over toasted croutons and melt in the oven. Set aside
  5. SOUP
  6. Over medium heat, melt the butter and oil together. Add onions and season with nutmeg, garlic, salt, and pepper. Drop bay leaves in.
  7. Add the water, brandy and wine to the onions and let caramelize for about 40 minutes. Add beef stock.
  8. While the onions are caramelizing, cook the pasta according to package directions, drain and then add to the onions.
  9. Remove the bay leaves and mix the other half of the cheese mixture into the soup. Top with croutons and serve.

 

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