A Maryland doctoral student did her homework to devise a stellar French Onion Soup.
Credit: Randy Mayor

It’s hard to turn down a bowl of hot soup in the middle of winter, so this is just the time to share some of our favorite soups and stews received from readers.

When our Test Kitchens staff tested this recipe for French Onion Soup, they were delighted by its richness and praised its authenticity. But the reader who submitted it, Jennifer Dabbs Sciubba, doesn’t pretend to be a French cook (she actually comes from a line of Southern cooks). She was certain, though, she had what it took to make a great version of the classic soup. “I was unsatisfied with the greasy and watered-down taste of most French onion soups,” wrote Sciubba, 24. She and her husband live about two miles from the campus of the University of Maryland at College Park, where she is a doctoral student in political science. “Many of them would have large pieces of onion that weren’t tender enough.” So she went to work creating a rich-tasting soup with melt-in-your-mouth onions.

In order to develop her ideal soup, Sciubba scoured recipe resources for cooking tips and found that adding white wine to the soup would intensify the flavor of beef broth and sautéed onions. Many onion soup recipes call for a stick of butter, but she chose to sauté the onions in olive oil, then add sugar to help them caramelize. The soup’s time on the stove is also an important factor. “Allowing the soup to simmer for a couple of hours tenderizes each piece of onion until it’s perfectly infused with the broth,” she says.

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