I’m all for combining two different dishes into one mega super duper dish that everyone will go crazy for. There’s just something about allowing your creative juices to flow and coming up with a spectacular dish that people won’t be able to stop talking about. This dish here is the epitome of what a comfort food mash-up is all about. You take classic French Onion Soup, for example, and combine it with the even more comforting fan favorite, Mac and Cheese. It’s like having two amazing worlds come together and creating a dish so delicious that you can’t really picture your life without it moving forward. It’s heart-warming and filling, and it just so happens to be the perfect dish to make this week because if you’re experiencing a cold front much like I am, then you’re going to want a big comforting bowl of mac and cheese soup. It doesn’t get any better than this, and if it does, then I don’t want to heat about it.
Let’s start by making the French onion soup base. We do this by melting butter in a large pot and then adding all of the thinly sliced onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions are soft, and just beginning to brown. Season the onions with salt and pepper.
**Tip: If you want a little kick, you can also add in a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Although it’s not an authentic French Onion Soup ingredient, I do have to say that it adds a good kick to the soup.**
Once the onions have begun to soft and brown, add in the sprigs of fresh thyme and some bay leaves, either fresh or dry will do. Continue to cook until the onions have cooked down and are completely caramelized.
**Note: Some recipes will have you cut the cooking time here by sprinkling in sugar to help the onions “caramelize” quickly, but that is not good. Do not do this. You won’t get the right flavor this way. Make sure you cook the onions all the way, nice and slow.**
I know it might seem like they’ll never brown up, but if you keep the heat moderate and continue to cook and stir, they’ll begin to brown and get dark in color. You don’t want them to burn at all, so make sure you keep an eye on them and continue to stir every now and then.
Deglaze the pot with a little bit of dry white wine. This will pick up all of those browned bits from the bottom of the pot, give the soup tons of flavor, and allow the onions to soak up that delicious wine, while the alcohol cooks off. Continue to cook until most of the wine has evaporated.
You’ll then stir in the beef stock. Bring the soup to a simmer and then give it a taste. Adjust the seasonings accordingly, adding more salt or pepper as needed. You can remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves, lower the flame to as low as it’ll go and then cover and keep warm until ready to use.
In the meantime, let’s work on the mac and cheese component. This begins as most do, with a simple roux. This is just a mixture of fat (butter most often) and flour. Whisk and cook for about 30 seconds to remove that raw flour taste.
**Tip: Keep whisking the roux at this point because you don’t want it to burn. Roux are even parts butter and flour.**
Slowly whisk in the milk and cook until it has thickened. Season with plenty of salt, pepper, dry mustard powder and cayenne pepper. Remove the sauce from the heat and then stir in the cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon until the cheese has melted through and the sauce is smooth.
**Note: I’m using Colby jack cheese for this because I love the combination of Cheddar with Monterey Jack cheese. Cheddar for the color and Monterey Jack because it melts so nicely. I’m also using Gruyere because it’s traditional and a must with French onion soup.**
Add in the cooked noodles to the cheese sauce and stir until well combined.
**Tip: I’m using elbow macaroni but any short cut pasta will do. Cavatappi or penne would be great as well!**
Divide the soup among individual French Onion Soup ramekins. These are usually oven safe with handles. Then top each with the mac and cheese.
**Note: The mac and cheese might sink a little into the soup, but that is definitely okay. Just divide it evenly among each ramekin of soup.**
We’re not done just yet. Sprinkle the top of each with more shredded cheese and some panko breadcrumbs for added crunch and color.
Place the ramekins on a baking sheet to make it easier to transfer them into the oven. Place under a broiler and broil until the cheese has melted and the tops are golden brown.
**Tip: As with anything you broil, you want to keep the door open and keep an eye on it so that it burns. Broilers will burn anything in the blink of an eye, if you’re not paying attention.**
Allow the soup to cool down just slightly before serving. You don’t want anyone to burn themselves on super hot soup. Although ever since I was a kid, I’ve always loved my soup to be extremely hot, scalding almost, or else I wouldn’t eat it.
This is a great comforting dish to make this week, especially if you’re experiencing some very chilly nights like we have been in Los Angeles, which is very weird for us because we can’t handle these rainy cold days we’ve been enduring. We might not survive. It’s a good thing this soup is there to help us though.
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