French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

I’ve tried the Whole 30 diet twice in my life.

The first time was right after my husband was diagnosed with an arthritic condition. He wanted to cut sugar, carbs and gluten out of his diet to see if that might reduce inflammation in his body, so we decided to try Whole 30.

I remember our trip to the grocery store. After several evenings of careful meal planning, we headed to our local Stop and Shop to pick up the uncommon ingredients we’d need: almond butter, coconut milk, coconut aminos, gluten free flour, lots of meat and produce, gluten free crackers, and a bag of chia seeds, among other things. When I put the almond butter into the cart, Sean’s eyes widened.

“$11! For a container of peanut butter! No wait, it’s almond. Why is it so expensive?!” he raged.

I put it in our cart and shrugged. Then we stared sadly at our cashier as she rang up our not-very-full cart. “$150.99,” she said. Whole 30 is not for people living on a budget, I thought. By the end of that first day, Sean had already eaten half of the almond butter. By day 2, he’d consumed 12 eggs.

During that first Whole 30 trial, I lasted for about a week. Sean lasted the whole month. I was miserable without cheese and carbs. And I know what all you die hard Whole 30 people are thinking — that’s supposed to happen! You’re supposed to feel awful! Yes and yes. But for me, food (and creativity in cooking) provides deep, deep joy in my life. I wasn’t miserable without the actual food. I was miserable without all the options I was used to having. I was miserable because I couldn’t cook creatively anymore.

Due to some kind of momentary brain lapse, I proposed another Whole 30 stint last year during the dead of winter, forgetting how terrible it had been the first time around. My former roommate and yoga buddy Lea signed up, too. She lasted a whole month. I, on the other hand, lasted a whopping 4 days before throwing a bowl of tasteless spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs into the garbage and making myself a grilled cheese sandwich instead.

You guys, I love cheese. It’s a food of the gods. I don’t eat a lot of it but I cherish every bite. It would be one of my desert island foods. When I travel, I crave cheese. At the end of a long day, I want a bite of cheese. I love nothing more than an epic charcuterie board with various cheeses, paired with good wine. I love making cheese from scratch. I love dipping into a bowl of creamy mac ‘n cheese or the crunch you hear during the first bite of a velvety, salty grilled cheese sandwich.

I. Love. Cheese.

French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese

Serves 2. Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen.
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin into rounds
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t brown sugar
  • 1/2 t fresh or dried thyme
  • 1.5 T beef stock
  • 4 slices of thick cut french bread
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere and/ or cheddar cheese

Melt 2 T butter in a saucepan, then add the onions and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add in the salt, pepper, sugar and thyme then cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the onions start to burn, reduce the heat slightly. Once the onions look soft and deeply golden brown, add in the beef broth and remove them from the heat.

On another skillet, melt 1 T butter. Place bread in the pan, top with 1/2 the cheese mixture and 1/2 the onion mixture, then top it with a second slice of bread. Repeat with the other sandwich. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, flipping the sandwich when the bottom is crispy and golden brown. Cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side and serve warm.

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