I use a good brand (Swanson or Pacific) mushroom broth, with some non-fat chicken broth if you have no vegetarians to serve. I like the mushroom broth as the base. You need 8 cups to serve 4 – 6 people.
- 8 cups broth
- Add and warm gently for a half hour or so:
- Branches of fresh thyme
- 8 – 10 large stems of parsley
- One small branch rosemary —-or 1 ts. dried. You don’t want the rosemary to dominate the thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cloves garlic, mashed
Strain, and reserve stock.
FOR THE SOUP
- 4 T. olive oil
- l l/2 lb. red onions, cut into thin strips
- 1/2 ts. sea salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb fresh or canned whole tomatoes, juice reserved
- 1 cup red wine, preferably Pinot Noir, but any good quality red wine will work for this dish. I have even been known to fill in the edges with left over white wine, but you need the base to be good quality red.
- Baguette (day old is best) for croutons, one slice per bowl of soup.
- Olive oil for basting baguette slices.
Warm 4 T olive oil in a heavy pot that will hold the onions and stock. Add the onions and stir slowly for 30 minutes, softening them in the oil.
Toss the minced garlic with the sea salt.
Prepare tomatoes by straining them, and reserve the juice for soup.
Seed the tomatoes, squeezing them to remove watery pulp and seeds. Chop.
Add to the onions: garlic/salt; tomatoes; 1 cup tomato juice; and taste for salt.
Cover the pot and simmer for 15 – 30 minutes to marry the flavors.
Add the wine and cook over medium-high heat until mixture is reduced by l/3.
Add the prepared stock to the onions and tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. You can always add more broth if you like. Taste for salt; add fresh ground pepper. You can prepare this soup early in the day and hold for reheating and finishing with the baguette croutons.
WHEN READY TO SERVE
Slice baguette and brush both sides with olive oil. Toast in a hot oven until they are crisp and golden. Watch fairly carefully. Place one crouton slice in each bowl. Fill with soup. Stir a scant ts. of olive oil into each bowl; garnish with fresh thyme leaves.