You've all had french onion soup, which also means you have had bad french onion soup, as most of the time it is. I didn't even love this version, but it's a work in progress. My problem with french onion soup is that it doesn't usually have much body or mouthfeel. I recently had this soup at Beast, which was made with duck and veal stock. Now that's broth! Here's a passable quick version.
Keith made a very good point about french onion soup: one large cheese toast makes the whole experience frustrating because you have to hack at the bread to break it up. The solution: why not just use home made croutons? Here's how it all goes down:
Make some beef stock. I didn't, but I'm telling you to because canned beef broth is crap. All of it. That's part of the reason my version wasn't that good. After you have done this, move on to the rest. Substitute beef broth bulked up with store bought demi glace if you are lazy like me.
Caramelize some onions, see recipe below.
Add about 1/2 cup of sherry to the caramelized onions and bring to a boil, deglazing pan if necessary. Add 8 cups of beef broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low 30-45 minutes until soup has reduced some and begins to thicken. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. The broth should be sweet and meaty, slightly salty and with a small kick from the pepper flake.
Make some big croutons, cooking until they are crispy on the outside but slightly soft in the center. I used a french batard because it has a lot of crumb and air pockets in it, perfect for absorbing all that great broth.
Ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls. Working fast, throw some croutons on top, sprinkle with shredded gruyere and broil until gold and bubbbly. Serve immediately and enjoy!