Recipe Sleuth: Robert Wiedmaier’s Five-Onion Soup

This chef, who specializes in Belgian cuisine, won our hearts with a flavorful onion soup topped with croutons and Gruyère.

Chef Robert Wiedmaier is best known for his excellent house-made sausage, especially his boudin blanc at Marcel’s. But we keep coming back to the Brabo Tasting Room—the casual bistro in his trio of properties in Old Town—and Brasserie Beck, the downtown DC Belgian restaurant, for their peppery onion soup topped with a layer of bubbling Gruyère cheese. Wiedmaier was inspired by an endive soup made by an early mentor, chef Albert Roux, who owns Le Gavroche in London, that city’s first Michelin-starred restaurant. While most soups call for just chicken or vegetable stock, Wiedmaier adds veal stock to this recipe to give it a rich flavor that’s warming in winter but also light enough for a summer dish—it’s on both menus all year. At Brasserie Beck, it goes by the name Onion/Shallot Soup.

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Robert Wiedmaier’s Five-Onion Soup

Serves 8 to 10

Make the soup:

½ pound unsalted butter
3 white onions, thinly sliced
2 red onions, thinly sliced
10 shallots, thinly sliced
1 bunch thyme
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
3 quarts chicken stock
1 quart veal stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the sliced white and red onions and shallots and caramelize for about 5 to 6 minutes. Tie the small bunch of thyme together with butcher’s twine and add to the pot along with the caraway seeds. Add the chicken and veal stocks and let simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove thyme bundle before serving.

Assemble the soup with croutons and Gruyère:

Toasted croutons (use day-old bread, such as white or brioche, cut into 1-inch cubes and lightly toasted), about 4 to 5 per bowl or to taste
2 cups grated Gruyère, or to taste
1 bunch scallions, sliced thin
½ cup chives, chopped

Preheat the broiler.

Spoon the soup into 8 to 10 serving bowls and top with croutons and Gruyère. Place the bowls under the broiler until the cheese is melted and caramelized, about 3 minutes. Keep an eye on the soup to make sure the cheese doesn’t burn. Garnish with scallions and chopped chives.

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