Cantal Rye Bread Soup

Soup season has been slow coming, this year. It's not the first time, though, we've eaten dinner of soup at night with the doors open, just to make it a bit cooler in the house!

One of my favorite soups is made with Cantal and Rye. I describe it like a French Onion, only with more bread, cheese and cream on top! It's from a fantastic book called The Soups of France by Lois Anne Rothert. It's survived decades of book purging because it's just that great!

  • 10 OUNCES CANTAL CHEESE

  • 3 TABLESPOONS UNSALTED BUTTER

  • 4 MEDIUM-SIZED ONIONS, FINELY CHOPPED

  • 1-1/2 QUARTS WATER OR VEGETABLE BROTH, BOILING

  • 1 TEASPOON SALT

  • FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER

  • 1/2 POUND STALE DARK RYE BREAD, VERY THINLY SLICED

  • 1 CUP CRÈME FRAÎCHE OR HEAVY CREAM

Carefully cut the cheese into very thin slices. Using a vegetable peeler may give you the thin slices needed here. Or you may grate the cheese.

Melt the butter in a heavy 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to color, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the boiling water or broth and the salt, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed and black pepper to taste. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F

Using all the bread and cheese, layer the slices alternately in the bottom of a flameproof 3-quart earthenware casserole. Pour in the onion broth. Cover the casserole with its own lid or with aluminum foil, place in the oven, and bake until bubbling, about 30 minutes. (Individual ovenproof soup bowls may be used instead; baking time is then reduced to
15 minutes.)

Take the casserole out of the oven, and turn on the broiler. Remove the lid from the casserole and pour the crème fraîche or cream over the soup. Place under a broiler for a few minutes until golden brown, then serve immediately.