This recipe thinks seasonally with the classic all-seasons soup. Spring is top of mind here. Calling for a lighter chicken stock rather than the traditional beef, it’s crowned with a medley of green alliums—think garlic scapes, scallions, and spring onions jumping out of the farmers’ markets—in the form of pistou, France’s pine-nut-less answer to Ligurian pesto. All components may easily be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen. Just heat the onions and stock before assembly.
- In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, add the oil. When it shimmers, add the onion and a pinch of salt, stir gently to coat, then cover and cook until the onions begin to wilt (6–7 minutes). Uncover, turn the heat down to medium-low, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until pale golden and sweet but not yet deep brown or melted (50–60 minutes).
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add the Fontina and Parmesan cheese, toss to combine, and set aside.
- Make the pistou: In a blender or small food processor, add the onions, scapes, or scallions, Parmesan, and tomato. Begin pulsing the blender to break up the ingredients, then, with the motor running, drizzle in the oil to make a thick paste. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, transfer to a small bowl or jar, and set aside until ready to finish the soup. (If making this component ahead of time, cover the surface of the pistou with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent oxidation, then cover the container with plastic wrap or a tight-fitting lid, and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months).
- Preheat the broiler.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the stock, wine, and vermouth, bring to a simmer, and cook just until you can smell that the alcohol has boiled off, 8–10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed, then turn the heat off.
- Line a half sheet pan with aluminum foil and place 4 soup crocks or other ovenproof bowls on it. Divide the onions between the bowls (a scant ½ cup per bowl), then spread a generous tablespoon of the pistou over the onions. Ladle the stock into each bowl to fill, then top with one or two slices of toasted baguette. Divide the cheese between the bowls. (You will mound a generous layer over each bowl, and it will seem like too much. It’s not!) Transfer to the broiler and cook until the cheese is completely melted and starting to brown in places, 4–6 minutes. Line 4 heatproof plates with paper napkins, carefully transfer the hot crocks onto the plates, and serve immediately.
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