We've been making lots of beef stock in the crockpot. How to use it up? The first thing that comes to mind is French onion soup. Somehow it has developed a reputation of being difficult and time consuming to make. Don't believe it! Especially if you already have some finished stock in the freezer. Making the soup does take some time, but most of it is hands off so you can go read a book or respond to some emails while the onions are caramelizing or while the soup is simmering.
Start by melting a healthy dose of olive oil and good butter in a Dutch oven or another heavy bottomed pot. Add about 4 large onions sliced into rings. The onions will probably fill up the whole pot, but soon they will cook down to nothing. Raise the heat to medium high, and cook the onions for about 10-15 minutes so that they begin to sweat and melt. Add about 2 teaspoons of salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper and turn the heat to low. If the onions are giving up tons of liquid, cook uncovered. Stir the onions occassionally to prevent burning.
After about 30-45 minutes the onions should be well-browned, sweet, and caramelized. At this point, deglaze the bottom of the pot with a little white wine. Add whatever herbs you have on hand- I threw in a sprig of sage, a little dried thyme, and a bay leaf. You get the idea.
Cover onions with about 6 cups of beef stock and bring to boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes. Taste for salt and add as necessary.
While the soup is simmering, prepare the croutons. Put some grated swiss cheese, ideally Gruyere, on top of slices of stale but good bread and melt in toaster oven. Ladle soup into bowls and place crouton on top. Enjoy!