Step 1: Onions
For this recipe I've used 6 large onions, halved and sliced. Modify the number to suit your preferences.
Add the onions to a large heavy pot greased with a couple of tablespoons olive oil, butter, canola oil, or some combination thereof. I find adding even a little bit of butter goes a long way in improving taste.
Add a couple of bay leaves and some black pepper, and stir over medium heat.
Add a handful of chopped garlic when the onions have begun to soften.
The goal is to slowly brown the onions to create a nice strong caramelized flavor for the soup. Stir more frequently as they cook to prevent sticking.
Step 2: Deglaze With Sherry
Add approximately 1/2c sherry and stir, scraping the bottom to remove all the tasty bits as the sherry cooks down.
Step 3: Add Stock and Seasonings
After at least 10 minutes of simmering, do some taste tests with your broth. Is it as salty, garlicky, peppery, or complex as you like it? If not, now's the time to modify. Add salt, a grated clove or two of garlic, more ground pepper, or maybe a boullion cube to make the flavor denser. Other options: Worchestershire sauce, anchovy paste, balsamic vinegar, fish sauce, chile sauce, or your flavoring agent of choice. Remember, this doesn't have to be a traditional French onion soup- just make sure it tastes good to you.
I chose to add a couple cloves of garlic, more black pepper, and roughly a teaspoon of anchovy paste for extra depth of flavor. Anchovy paste is my new favorite stealth additive.
Continue simmering until the flavors have mingled, then add a handful of chopped parsley for the last 3-5 minutes.
Step 4: Serve
French onion soup is traditionally served with a large crouton covered in Gruyere cheese toasted under the broiler, but since that doesn't fit into my dietary theory I've skipped it. While it's quite tasty, putting the entire bowl under the broiler is often a pain; you can toast the cheese onto the bread in a toaster oven then float it on your soup.
Sprinkling grated parmesan over the top works well too.