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Belgian Onion Soup

['2 tablespoons butter', '2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil', '5 large onions, halved and sliced thin', '6 cloves of garlic, minced', '4 shallots, sliced thin', '750 milliliter Chimay Blue', '4 cups vegetable stock', '4 bay leaves', '6 sprigs of thyme', '1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper', '4 slices sourdough bread for garnish', '1/2 pound Gruyère cheese for garnish', 'Sea salt to taste']

1. Heat a wide pot or cast-iron on medium heat. Add the butter and let it blister.
2. Add the onion and cook uncovered. Let them sit for about four minutes and then stir. Repeat until the onions have all begun to brown, at least twenty minutes.
3. Add the olive oil, garlic, and shallots and stir in the same fashion as before, once every five minutes, until the garlic and shallots have caramelized.
4. Add 2 1/2 cups of the beer and crank the heat to just shy of high. Let the beer boil off until there is half as much beer volume as onion volume.
5. Add the stock, bay leaves, thyme leaves, and white pepper. Cook until the liquid has reduced by about two finger widths. Taste the soup and add salt to adjust. Cook for at least an additional twenty minutes before garnishing. In an ideal world, you would let the soup sit a day before serving it. (Just be sure to reheat it.)
6. Take a slice of sourdough and cut it to fit your bowl or cup. Set atop the soup and cover with several slices of Gruyère. Broil until brown and serve hot, topped with extra thyme.

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