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Author Notes: I have become an aficionado of cooking lots of component parts to favorite dishes and storing them in the freezer, to be assembled at will. Two of the most versatile are beef and chicken stock, and caramelized onions. They come together here in a quick version of a time-intensive standby. While you're in time- and labor-saving mode, instead of toasting the entire bowl with a giant cheese-coated crouton, just make a cheese toastie, cut it into crouton size, and float atop the soup. —Kayb
- 12 yellow onions
- 1 stick butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Slice onions into half-moons and cram as many as you can into your slow cooker.
- Sprinkle salt over onions; put stick of butter on top.
- Turn slow cooker on low and walk away for 18 hours. It is well, if you have anyone sensitive to smells in your household, to do this in an outdoors or well-vented area; it will smell quite potent at about hour 8.
- Allow onions to cool, and portion into one or 1/2 cup servings, as fits your needs, in plastic bags. Squeeze out as much air as possible, and freeze.
Beef broth and soup
- 5 pounds beef soup bones
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2/3 cup red wine
- 2 slices good French bread or ciabatta
- 1 ounce gruyere or emmenthaler cheese
- Arrange soup bones on sheet pan or cookie sheet.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 350F for an hour and a half, or until deep brown.
- Move bones to stock pot. Add garlic cloves and quartered onion and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for three hours.
- Strain solids from broth; package in pint containers and freeze.
- To make soup, put red wine and 1 cup frozen onions in saucepan. Heat over low heat until onions are thawed and wine reduced by half.
- Add 1 pint beef broth; heat on simmer until well blended. Taste and correct seasoning, add water if needed.
- While soup is simmering, grate cheese; pile onto sliced bread and toast until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove and cut toast into 1 1/2 inch croutons.
- Float croutons on soup and serve immediately.