Onion & Fennel Soup Gratin

serves 4 to 6 (definitely 6+)

This recipe is from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy Is That? This is Ina Garten’s spin on the classic French Onion Soup. I had to look up what fennel was so that I could find it in the store; I also googled what it tastes like…which is similar to anise-flavored, but delicate and mild, not like a stick of licorice. Even if you are not a licorice fan, you will most likely still enjoy this soup; there are so many other flavors going on that it doesn’t stand out at all.

While the recipe says it serves 4 to 6, I think it would serve at least 6, more like 8; though it also depends on the size of your bowls. I purchased these cute porcelain lion’s head bowls from Amazon. There were 3 of us that ate the soup last night and there is still at least 50% of the soup leftover.


  • 4 TBL unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup good olive oil
  • 3 pounds Spanish onions, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick ← time to break out those swim goggles for onion chopping!
  • 2 pounds fennel, tops and cores removed, sliced ¼ inch thick ← these also caused my eyes to water
  • ½ cup good dry sherry
  • ½ cup Cognac or brandy ←I used Cognac and I added about ½ cup more in the final stages of cooking; I felt it needed more of a punch
  • cups good dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 8 cups canned beef broth ← I used Better Than Bouillon® Roasted Beef Base; next time I’ll look for canned beef broth to see if it makes a difference
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 TBL Kosher salt
  • tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small sourdough or white French boule, crusts removed, sliced ½-inch thick, and toasted
  • 4 to 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated ← I used 8 ounces for just 3 bowls, and plan to use more next time to get it to drip down the sides and get crusty, like they do at Ross’ Grill in PTown.


  • Preheat the broiler and position a rack 5 inches below the heat source
  • Heat the butter and oil in a large stockpot over medium-hight heat
  • Add the onions and fennel, and cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a golden brown ← note to self, don’t put the lid on next time, that is probably why the onions didn’t brown as they should have
  • If the onions aren’t browning, turn the heat up
  • Add the sherry and Cognac, scraping up the brown bits in the pan, and simmer uncovered for 15 more minutes
  • Add the beef broth, bay leaves, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and summer uncovered for 20 minutes ←it was during this step that I ended up adding more Cognac
  • Remove the bay leaves and taste for seasoning
  • Ladle the soup into heat-proof serving bowls, top with the toasted bread, sprinkle generously with grated Gruyère, and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Serve hot

Soup Paring Suggestion(s)

Looking for ideas here; let me know your thoughts!

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