Thinly slice the onion lengthwise. Melt the butter in a deep pan and lightly sauté the onion. Cover and simmer over medium to high heat for about 10 minutes.
Uncover and sauté for 5 minutes. *Scrape the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the water, sake, and chicken consommé cubes (break up the cubes before adding), and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and adjust the saltiness. The soup base is done.
While the soup is still hot, transfer to heat-resistant bowls and top with the garlic bread ( see Step 7) and cheese. You can also use a lightly toasted baguette instead of garlic bread.
Preheat the oven and bake at 180℃ for about 15 minutes or bake in the toaster oven for about 7 minutes. It's ready when the tops are browned. It's easier to bake in the toaster oven if you're just preparing 1 or 2 serving(s).
<For the baguette> Cut the garlic clove in half. Rub a 1 cm thick slice of baguette with the cut side of the garlic. Thinly spread butter and toast in a toaster oven.
Make a large batch, and store the caramelized onions and garlic bread in the freezer for later use. (To defrost the toast, put it in the refrigerator overnight.)
The reason for baking is to melt the cheese and brown the top; this could be done with either an oven or a toaster oven.
The baguettes that have absorbed the soup and the melted cheese on top taste amazing! I used small slices of baguettes and put 2 in each bowl.
Story Behind this Recipe
I found out it is easier to make this soup in a pan covered with a lid than in microwave! This is a recipe for onion gratin soup that can be cooked easily and quickly.
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Without using a microwave, you can reduce the cooking time by steaming the onions in a pan covered with a lid. This way, there's less dishwashing, too. It takes 10 minutes to steam the onions in a pan covered with a lid, the same amount of time it would take to microwave.
Using sake as secret ingredient boosts the flavors.