I used to work in the International district of Seattle during the 70s. I loved it! Our customers were wonderful, the business owners were our buddies, and the restaurant food and grocery selections were unparalleled in the region. My fellow employees taught me a lot about Asian cooking too. (We actually had a full kitchen in our break room, complete with a 4 burner stove, refrigerator and microwave.) Most days I would either bring a leftover from home, or build something on the spot. But sometimes, a group of us would head off to one of the local eateries. Of course we had fabulous Asian restaurants from which to choose, but we also had an incredible hole-in-the-wall Creole restaurant across the alley from us and a short lived sandwich and soup place in the great hall of the old Union Station. (Union Station is a former train station constructed between 1910 and 1911 to serve the Union Pacific Railroad and the Milwaukee Road. It now serves as the headquarters of Sound Transit and its grand hall is rented out to the public for weddings and other events.) But back to that soup and sandwich place. One of the soups they offered was an onion soup with mushrooms. It was the best soup I had ever tasted. I begged and pleaded for that recipe, but they never would share it with me, even when they were closing! How rude, don’t you think? Anyway, I played around with the ingredients and finally determined that the subtle background flavor that made my taste buds sing was caraway. So give this recipe a try, but please, do not leave out the caraway. Your taste buds will thank you!

  • ¼ c. butter
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 onions, sliced
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 T. flour
  • ½ c. hearty red wine (I use “Gallo Hearty Burgundy”)
  • 6 c. beef broth (I use 6 teaspoons of  Superior Touch brand “Better Than Bouillon” – beef base and 6 cups of water)
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp. caraway seeds (not optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T. paprika
  • ½ tsp. dried marjoram
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • lightly toasted baguette slices
  • Swiss or Gruyère cheese, grated
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Melt butter in a large covered soup pot. Add olive oil and sliced onions. Cook onions for about 45 minutes or until they are caramel colored and very, very soft. Add mushrooms and sugar; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in flour and let cook for about 5 minutes over low heat, stirring often. Add wine, beef broth, parsley, caraway, bay leaf, paprika, marjoram, and thyme. Cover and simmer for at least an hour. Meanwhile, place a combination of   cheeses on baguette slices. Just before ready to serve, pop the bread and cheese in a 450 degree oven and bake until cheese is melted. Ladle soup into oven proof soup bowls and place a couple baguette slices on top. Sprinkle with more cheese and place in hot oven or under broiler until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve immediately.