6 servings (serving size: 1 cup soup and 2 toasts)

This recipe teaches how to layer flavors. Shallots have a subtler taste than onions--more like the white part of green onions. Spanish onions are slightly sweeter than yellow onions; using a combination yields a delicate, sweet onion flavor. When roasting the onions and shallots, remove any pieces that are browning more quickly than the rest to prevent burning. After roasting, the onions, shallots, and garlic are sautéed to release any additional liquid, which helps them break down for a softer texture in the soup. Beef broth adds a French onion soup flavor, but combining it with milder chicken broth keeps it from overpowering the onions. Add up to 1/2 of cup water to the pureed soup if you find it too thick and prefer a thinner consistency. This delicious soup tastes even better the next day. -Recipe by Kathie Finn

How to Make It

Step 1

To prepare the soup, preheat the oven to 375°.

Step 2

Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate cloves). Cut top third off head, and discard (A). Drizzle 1 teaspoon oil over cut side of garlic (B); wrap in foil. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes, cut side up, or until tender and cut side is lightly golden; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves, and squeeze to extract garlic pulp (C). Discard skins.

Step 3

Increase oven temperature to 400°.

Step 4

Combine 2 teaspoons of oil, yellow onions, and next 4 ingredients (through pepper); toss gently. Arrange on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until tender and golden brown. Remove from oven, and cool slightly. Coarsely chop onions and shallots.

Step 5

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, shallots, and garlic; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beef broth and rice; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Add chicken broth, and cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Step 6

Place one-fourth broth mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean dishtowel over opening in blender lid (to avoid spills). Process until smooth. Pour the pureed broth mixture into a large bowl. Repeat procedure in batches with the remaining broth mixture. Stir in half-and-half.

Step 7

To prepare toasts, preheat broiler.

Step 8

Sprinkle cheese evenly over bread slices. Place bread slices on a baking sheet. Broil 5 minutes or until cheese melts and is lightly browned. Ladle soup into bowls; sprinkle with chives. Serve toasts with soup.

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