Alsatian Onion Soup

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds) yellow onion, halved from root to stem and sliced 1/8-inch thick
2 quarts beef, chicken or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups peeled, julienned Granny Smith apples
3 tablespoons dry sherry
Salt and pepper
8 (1/2-inch) slices of baguette, toasted
8 slices Muenster cheese

Heat the oil in an 8- to 10-quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until golden brown (but not burned), 15 to 25 minutes. Add the broth, bay leaves and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

Stir in the apples and sherry and let simmer until the apples are just tender, 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish each bowl with a crouton topped with a slice of Muenster cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese melts.

The soup may be made (without croutons) up to four days ahead and refrigerated, covered. Reheat in a microwave or on the range top, then add the cheese-topped croutons.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

— "The Berghoff Cafe Cookbook," by Carlyn Berghoff and Nancy Ryan

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