In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, over medium flame, slowly wilt the onions in equal amounts of Salted Butter” href=”http://kerrygoldusa.com/products/butter/salted-butter/”>Kerrygold Salted Butter and cooking oil (the oil raises the cooking temperature of the butter to allow for better caramelization). Stir the onions as they cook, adding a bit of butter if onions are too dry. Once the onions are much diminished in volume and softening, raise the flame slightly to help caramelize, stirring well and scraping up any browning on the bottom of the pan.
When the onions are quite soft and golden, add the whiskey and bay leaf and raise heat until the liquid is gone. Add enough vegetable broth to cover the onions by an inch or two, along with a splash of wine vinegar, bring just to a boil and turn down to a simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool thoroughly and then refrigerate covered.
When ready to dip into the soup, dish up a bowlful and heat in the microwave – or if there’s a crowd to feed, put the whole pot on a burner on medium-low. You might dish up a few bowls ahead of time to be heated later and leave them covered with plastic wrap in the fridge so they’re an instant go-to for kitchen foragers – cheese may also be grated ahead and kept in a plastic container).
Meanwhile, for a single serving, toast the bread. Once toasted, place it in a flameproof pan, cover with the cheese, and melt under the broiler. If you’re doing a quantity of servings at once, place the slices untoasted on a cookie sheet and melt the cheese in a hot oven. Drop cheesy toast on top of the bowl of soup, wait a moment for bread to soak up a bit of soup and dig in!
And for something even more rib-sticking – add slivers of ham to the cheese before melting, or break an egg into the bowl of soup before heating (heat a bit longer so egg poaches slightly). Here’s wishing a Happy, Hearty New Year to you all – now get out there and take the plunge!