I will be honest, this French onion meatball soup was partly inspired by both French onion soup and the Italian Ribollita, but mostly by what I had in fridge and freezer. Either way, this worked out really well and is worth making. That being said, I am not even sure that there is a true need to make meatballs. Next time, I plan on just browning the loose ground beef as is and adding more Parmesan directly to the soup.
I had this with a neighbor, so this recipe makes two servings worth. You can freeze the extra portion if you are cooking for one, just make sure to make and add the cheesy bread only once ready to eat the soup; that part will not freeze well.
2 medium sized yellow or white onions, peeled, halved and cut into thin half moons
1/2 lb ground sirloin
1 bunch of kale, finely chopped and stem ends removed
3 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 slices of your favorite bread
2 tsps brandy
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tsps Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp chopped thyme leaves (half of that if using dried thyme)
Salt and white pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a soup pan over low heat. As soon as it shimmers add the sliced onion, the thyme, and salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring very often, until the onion is caramelized to a rich golden brown and is meltingly soft. If, at any time, it looks as though your onion might catch to the bottom of the pan or burn, add a couple of teaspoons of water to the pan and stir it through the onions. This will take about fifteen minutes over low heat.
While the onions are caramelizing, make your meatballs by combining your ground beef with a quarter cup of grated Parmesan, one teaspoon of the Worcestershire sauce and some salt and pepper. I formed the half pound of beef into six meatballs.
When the onion is done to your satisfaction, raise the heat to medium and add the brandy to the pan. Stir to deglaze the pan and to cook off the alcohol. After a minute or so, add the white wine and the remaining teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and repeat to cook off the alcohol in the white wine.
Scrape the onion sludge and any liquid into a bowl. Raise the heat under the empty pan and add the meatballs to the pan. Cook until browned on all sides.
Once this is done, nestle the onion mixture back into the pan amongst the meatballs along with the kale, Pour over the stock and cover. Cook for about ten minutes until teh meatballs are cooked to the center and the kale is tender.
While the soup is finishing up, make your toasts. Preheat the oven to broil. Spread each of your two slices of bread with a quarter cup of the remaining Parmesan, some salt and a generous amount of white pepper.
Place in the oven and broil until the bread is toasted and the cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Remove from the heat and cut into pieces.
Ladle the soup into two bowls and top each one with half the pieces of cheesy bread. I elected to place mine cheese side down to keep the bread from becoming soggy too soon which, while it made sense from a practical and logical point of view, did rob me of the photo opportunity that golden brown cheese topped soup would have offered. Still, the taste of the soup did not suffer from this and it was REALLY good.