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Broccoli, Onion and Cheese Soup

5 tablespoons butter
2 large Bermuda onions, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup sweet white wine
3 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmet
dash of cayenne
1/2 pound Jarlsberg cheese, grated
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1 bunch of broccoli, separated into 1 1/2 inch florets (about 4 cups)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice

In a large flameproof casserole, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter
over moderately high heat. Add the onions, black pepper, thyme
and sugar. Reduce the heat to moderately low, place a circle of
waxed paper directly over the top of the onions and cover tightly
with a lid. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the onions are
very soft and golden, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Remove the cover and the waxed paper and increase the heat to
moderate. Cook until the onions are golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Add the wine and boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add
the chicken stock and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer
for 15 minutes.

In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter over
moderate heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes
without browning. Whisk in the milk, cream, dry mustard, nutmeg
and cayenne and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the Jarlsberg and Gruyere until smooth.

Scrape the cheese mixture into the hot soup, add the broccoli and
cook until crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the red pepper
and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.


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