French onion soup feeds the soul on a cold day, and now you can enjoy it at the best restaurant on the block: your place.

Martha Stewart Living’s classic recipe turns a lazy Sunday into a long-simmering affair. Serve it bubbling hot, and bring down the house.

———

“This dish freezes beautifully. I store it in pint containers, so when I’m craving a warm, comforting bowl, all I have to do is return it to a simmer in a saucepan, transfer it to a serving crock and top with toast and cheese to broil.” — Greg Lofts, Martha Stewart Living deputy food editor

FRENCH ONION SOUP

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 pounds sweet onions, such as Vidalia, halved and thinly sliced (9 cups)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 clove garlic, minced (1 teaspoon)

3 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper

½ cup dry vermouth or dry white wine

2 quarts beef stock, preferably homemade (see additional recipe below)

 cup sweet Marsala, Madeira or port wine

6 slices French bread or other soft country loaf (each 1 inch thick), lightly toasted

8 ounces Gruyère, coarsely grated (2 cups)

Caramelize onions: Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and beginning to turn golden, 35 to 40 minutes (if onions develop color quickly, reduce heat). Add butter, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, 2 teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring a few times, until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more.

Deglaze and simmer: Add vermouth (for acidity and subtle bitterness) and boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot, until mostly evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in stock and Marsala (this fortified wine imbues sweetness and subtle warmth and spice). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer 45 minutes. Season to taste.

Broil and serve: Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into broiler-safe crocks or bowls set on a rimmed baking sheet. Nestle a piece of toast into each, partially submerged, and top each with  cup Gruyère. Broil until cheese is melted, bubbly and golden brown in places, 2 to 4 minutes. Soup without toast and cheese can be cooled and refrigerated in an airtight container as long as 3 days, or frozen as long as 6 months.

Makes 6 servings.

———

Any beef bones work here; ask your butcher for recommendations if you can’t find the ones suggested here. This recipe yields about 3 quarts.

HOMEMADE BEEF STOCK

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a roasting pan, combine 5 pounds total beef-marrow bones, neck bones and oxtail; 1 pound beef chuck (or other stew meat), cut into 1-inch pieces; 3 carrots, peeled; and 1 halved large onion, skin on. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, toss-

ing to evenly coat, and spread in a single layer. Roast, turning everything once halfway through, until meat is browned on all sides, about 45 minutes.

Transfer bones, meat and vegetables to a stockpot. Place roasting pan over two burners, add ½ cup water and bring to a boil, scraping browned bits from bottom; transfer mixture to stockpot. Add enough water to pot to cover meat and vegetables by about 2 inches (5 to 6 quarts). Bring to a boil, skimming foam and impurities from surface.

Add 2 celery stalks, plus a handful of inner leaves; 1 teaspoon black peppercorns; 2 thyme sprigs; and 6 parsley sprigs. Reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer, uncovered, until mixture is darkened and reduced slightly, and bones have released their marrow, 8 to 12 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve (line it with cheesecloth for clearest possible stock). Let stand until fat rises to surface, then skim it from stock with a spoon. Freeze fat to use in place of oil or schmaltz in a savory dish. Stock can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week, or frozen up to 6 months.

More recipes and additional tips may be found online at www.marthastewart.com/everydayfood. Questions or comments may be sent to ask.martha@meredith.com.