French onion soup may have originated in the 1800s in Paris, and enjoyed a huge resurgence in the United States in the 1960s, but this comforting meal has never felt as modern as in this creative recipe. Using Pennsylvania onions, fresh apples and sweet apple cider, we’ve developed a clever spin on a classic that helps avoid some of its pitfalls (too rich, too thick, too salty). The fruit brings a lightness that lifts the flavor above the typical beef-and-onion profile. And cubed local sourdough bread and shredded Gruyère create the irresistible topping that’s basically the whole reason why we crave French onion soup in the first place!
Pennsylvania French Onion and Apple Soup
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large PA yellow onions, sliced thin
- 2 PA-grown sweet or tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into matchsticks
- 3 to 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup Madeira wine
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1/2 cup PA apple cider
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Kosher salt
- 1 small loaf PA sourdough bread, cut into small cubes
- 1 1/2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated
- Melt butter in large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion to pot and cook 5 minutes, until tender. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are caramelized, about 40 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium and stir in apples, thyme and black pepper and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until apples are tender. Add wine and cook until almost completely evaporated, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. Stir in broth and cider and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 40 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in vinegar and season with salt to taste.
- Preheat oven to 500°F. While soup cooks, arrange bread in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through, until golden.
- Ladle soup into oven-safe serving bowls, leaving 1/2”-space at top. Top soup with layer of toasted sourdough and sprinkle with even layer of Gruyère. Arrange soup bowls onto rimmed baking sheet and bake 6 to 8 minutes, until cheese melts and is bubbling.