Rachael Ray’s French Onion Soup Mac and Cheese Is the Coziest Winter Meal
Rachael Ray just combined French onion soup and mac and cheese and cooked it all in one pot a la risotto … and we're only a little jealous we didn't think of this first! She demonstrated how to make this crazy-cozy dish on the Rachael Ray Show on Monday and we're now counting down the minutes until dinnertime so we can recreate it ourselves.
"French onion soup—but make it pasta! The rich, savory-sweet flavor of caramelized onions and the crunchy, cheesy croutons with orecchiette pasta ready to scoop up all the delicious flavor," she says in an Instagram post about the entrée.
Yes, we know this recipe is decadent and not exactly an "everyday dinner," but after balancing out the Thanksgiving feast with several days of plant-focused eating, we're in the mood to indulge.
And Ray seems to agree. When a fan chimed in with a comment that read, "Looks delish but that's a lot of carbs, 🤣" Ray and her show squad replied, "a lot or just the right amount?"
We'll leave that up to you to decide. (Psst...You could totally skip the croutons on top if you like to cut a few carbs and some prep time!)
To make the French Onion One-Pot Pasta with Cheesy Croutons, Ray starts by caramelizing sliced onions in a mix of butter and oil along with a couple crushed cloves of garlic, a bay leaf and some salt. Caramelizing onions properly normally takes about 45 minutes, but the rich flavor really builds the base for this soup-pasta mash-up meal. (ICYMI, here's the #1 ingredient for better-tasting caramelized onions, according to Samin Nosrat.)
"If you want to cheat turning onions soft and giving them color, turn the heat up," Ray explains. "Take literally any dish [as she fills a small bowl with water from the tap] and add about ¾ cup of water. The water will help the onions break down quicker and will give you a leg up on the process."
Once the onions are light caramel-colored, it's time to spice things up with white and/or black pepper, grated nutmeg, a splash of sherry or brandy and white wine. After cooking this all down and allowing it to reduce for a few minutes, she pours in beef stock and water and the pasta. The water helps give the mixture enough liquid to cook the pasta right in the same pot.
If desired, now's the time to toast up some cheesy croutons in a skillet with garlic, Parmesan, Gruyere and thyme.
"French onion soup can be kind of difficult to eat, and what we really want is the cheesy goodness of the crouton. So we have a lot of cheese, a little bit of bread and we're going to put it in the oven and make the top[ping]," Ray says.
Once the pasta is tender and the liquid is absorbed, give the pot a good stir to evenly distribute the starches and ingredients (also stir every so often as it simmers if you can to avoid any bottom-of-the-pot sticking). Sprinkle in some cheese to round out the pasta, top with the cheesy toasted croutons and dinner is done.
With how rich and flavorful this dish is, we imagine a little bit goes a long way. So we plan to serve our version in portion-controlled ramekins—just like Kate Hudson recently did—and pair this with a big winter salad on the side.