This has become one of the signature dishes at Chef Susan Spicer's wonderful French Quarter restaurant Bayona. As far as I know, it's never been off the menu. It's been a hot seller both at the restaurant and at Chef Spicer's Spice, Inc. Good reason, too ... it's fabulous.

In a 4-quart, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the onions and garlic in the butter and oil. Stir frequently over low to medium heat until the onions are a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bouquet garni and bring to a boil. Stir in the bread cubes and simmer for 10 minutes, until the bread is soft. Remove the bouquet garni and purée the soup in a blender, carefully! Remember that hot liquids can splash up in a blender; you can use one of those hand-held blenders and purée it right in the pot if you like. Strain the soup through a medium strainer, reheat and whisk in more chicken broth if the soup is too thick for your taste. Add the half and half, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

YIELD: 8 servings


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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)