Onion Soup Omelets

onion isolated on white backgroundOne week on “Cooking Live” we devoted all our shows to the culinary challenges faced by newlyweds. We chose a representative couple and planned on setting them up with all the right equipment and a few basic recipes and launching them into their brave new life together. As usual, however, the learning went both ways. Britta Larsen, the bride-to-be, turned me on to a great recipe from her mother.

The concept was a winner. Instead of pouring all the delicious components of classic onion soup — slow-cooked onions, Gruyère cheese, and croutons — into a broth, you tuck them into an egg casing. What could be better? Served with a vegetable on the side and a salad, this omelet is hearty enough to be dinner. Alone, it is perfect for a weekend brunch or lunch. The onions can be cooked ahead and kept in the fridge. And if you don’t feel like making home made croutons, go ahead and toss in your favorite store-bought brand.

By the way, this is where your nonstick pan comes in handy. A good nonstick pan is useful not only for omelets but also for potato pancakes, fish fillets, crepes, and all those other dishes that break your heart when they stick to the pan.

Makes six 3-egg omelets

For the onion filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 to 5 medium onions, about 2 pounds, halved crosswise and very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/4 cup red wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

For the croutons:
3 slices 1/3-inch-thick country bread, crusts removed
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

For each individual omelet use (multiply by 6 for full recipe):
3 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
A heaping 1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese

To prepare the filling, melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and thyme and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring often, until the onions are very soft, about 20 minutes. Uncover and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are light brown, about 20 minutes. Add the stock and wine. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until the mixture is thick and pulpy, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the mustard and taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. You should have about 1 1/2 cups filling.For the croutons, preheat the oven to 400°F and cut the bread into 1/3-inch dice. Toss the cubes with the olive oil until well coated and place on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

For each omelet, break the eggs into a small bowl and add 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt and pepper. Beat with a fork until the whites and yolks are well blended. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a small omelet pan or nonstick skillet over high heat until foaming and just starting to brown. Have a warmed plate ready to receive the omelet. Add the eggs and stir quickly with the flat part of a fork until they begin to thicken, about 10 seconds. Push the egg that begins to set on the sides into the center of the pan and tilt the pan to pour the uncooked egg to the sides. Cook until the omelet is slightly firm, 15 to 20 seconds longer.

Stop stirring and let the omelet brown slightly on the bottom. Sprinkle a heaping 1/4 cup cheese over the surface. Spread about 1/4 cup of the onion mixture on the cheese and add 1/4 cup croutons. Fold the sides of the omelet over the filling and tilt the pan to half roll, half slide it onto the plate, seam side down. Serve at once.

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