Thursday, October 15, 2009

Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin

Cold, cloudy, rainy = good day to make soup!  I picked up a folder of loose recipes on my desk. You know, those recipes you tear from magazines, the newspaper, etc., throw in a folder and usually never see again? There, near the top of the pile was a page torn from a House Beautiful magazine with a Barefoot Contessa recipe for Onion and Fennel Soup Gratin. Luckily, I had a fennel bulb in the frig that I had bought for something else last weekend and never used. I had onions, a carton of beef stock in the pantry, Swiss cheese and French bread in the freezer so I was ready!

What a wonderful recipe! I have to say it was the best onion soup I have ever made! The fennel was mild and barely noticeable but gave a wonderful flavor to the soup. The sherry, brandy and wine gave it a richness of taste that was gourmet restaurant quality. Nothing like a little candle glow and a glass of wine to warm the soul too as darkness settled in :)

If you need some soup to warm your heart and soul, please give this one a try. I think you'll like it!I was only able to make a half recipe due to the limited amount of fennel and onions I had so my recipe reflects one-half of the original recipe. It was just right for the hubby and myself.

Adapted from Ask the Barefoot Contessa (House Beautiful)
Printable Recipe

Serves 3-4 (May be Doubled)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 cup good olive oil
1-1/2 pounds large sweet onions, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick (5 cups)
1 pound fresh fennel, fronds removed and cored, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup brandy
3/4 cup dry white wine – I used Chardonnay
4 cups beef stock or broth
2 small bay leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of French bread, cut to fit soup bowls
2-4 ounces of grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large stockpot on medium/high heat. Add the sliced onions and fennel and sauté for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are golden brown. Add the sherry and brandy and stir and then simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add the white wine and simmer uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.

Add the beef stock or broth, bay leaves, salt and pepper and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the French bread slices in a 350 oven for 10-15 minutes until they are nicely toasted.

Remove the bay leaves from the soup and adjust seasoning.

Preheat the broiler to high. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and ladle the soup into the bowls. Place the toasted bread over the top of the soup and sprinkle generously with the grated cheese and broil for about 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbling and serve.


  1. We are suppose to have summer here, but today is a rainy and cold day...A soup might be just the right thing to make!!!

  2. Susan, that looks awesome. A soup day here, weather wise and your soup would be perfect.

  3. I am a huge fan of Ina Garten's and have all of her books but I must say that I have never prepared this soup. I usually prepare my mother's recipe which is an adaption of Julia Child's recipe for French Onion Soup. Your post made me hungry to try this recipe. It looks so yummy and since we will have cooler temps here in N FL over the weekend I think I may just have to try this recipe.

    Carolyn/A Southerners Notebook

  4. Hi Susan, Now that is a Barefoot Contessa recipe I have not tried... yet!

    It looks soo good, and your signature red just sets it off so beautifully. Very nice! xo

  5. WE love this soup -- it was the


    Barefoot Contessa recipe I ever tried!

  6. We had turkey pot pie tonight:) Dressed in red:) And I said to J I need an onion soup soon..Yours sounds and looks divine~Bonsoir!

  7. Hmmmm - Sherry, brandy & wine in a soup - no wonder it's GOOD!!! I like the small recipe actually..I don't like eating the same soup for 4 days straight..will have to pick up some fennel and try this.
    The red bowls make it even tastier!!!

  8. What wonderful pics! Sounds like a winner, and looks so pretty in RED..

  9. Now there's a gourmet for ya, just happens to have fennel lying around :) Looks fantastic! I have yet to try fennel. On the list!

  10. Susan, your soup looks and sounds delicious. We love onion soup and have a favorite recipe but am always open to trying new ones. ... I bet you have some wonderful recipes thrown in your folder. :)

  11. Susan, I'm C&P this one! Tried fennel for the first time recently and found it much more mild than I expected. I can imagine it's the perfect compliment to the onions. I have a few of Ina's books. Wonder which one it's in?

    Btw, are those flameless candles? And if so, where did you get them?

  12. How wonderful that fennel is in this soup- I love that flavor! Stronger when in a salad, but it adds just the right touch when cooked.
    Love your red bowls!

  13. Thanks, everyone :)

    Those are just regular candles, Cindy, but I have seen the flameless kind at our local Ace Hardware store.

  14. I love fennel, it's my new favorite. I made a soup with it a couple of weeks ago, amazing flavor. Your soup crocks are so pretty.

  15. I thought this was a flashback, but I didn't see that anywhere. I made the soup after you posted it last fall. I feel like I'm in the
    twilight zone.

  16. Wonderful looking soup!! I love the combination here of the onion and fennel. What a nice change!

  17. I will definitely keep the recipe for the cold winter days. I love it!

  18. Ina Garten is one of my favorite chefs, Susan. I don't think I have ever made any failures that she has published. I've never made this particular soup but love fennel. Good project on a rainy day! It looks fabulous!
    (It is kind of interesting to go to the Food Network website, click on a particular recipe and see the comments people have made. There are often many helpful tips and ideas.)

  19. Sorry, ladies! I was doing some editing last night and somehow this post date got changed accidentally!


I appreciate your comment!