French Onion Soup is one of life's simple pleasures for me....rich, fragrant broth with caramelised onions topped with a crusty toasted Emmenthal croute.. a complete meal in itself.
The traditional recipe calls for a good beef stock but if you haven't got this a rich strong chicken stock works well or keep it vegetarian by using a good quality vegetable stock. Emmenthal would be my cheese of choice but Gruyere is wonderful and even an extra mature cheddar will work fine. The success of the recipe is completely dependent on ensuring the onions are caramelised to a deep golden brown, wishy washy onions will make a second rate soup...so take your time and don't add the stock too hastily.
Ingredients:- for around 6-8 portions
2lbs / 1kg thinly sliced large white onions
3 pints/ 1.8ltrs beef stock (or equivalent)
1 crusty baguette
4oz /125gms Emmenthal or Gruyere Cheese (grated)
2oz/60gms unsalted butter
1 dsp olive oil
2 tsps fresh chopped Thyme or ½tsp dried
seasoning to taste
you will first need to caramelise your onions here's what to do
melt the butter together with the oil in a large saucepan
add the onions and slowly cook until soft
now add the sugar, continue cooking on a very low heat for around 15 to 20 minutes stirring regularly... until dark golden brown
Sprinkle over the flour and stir through thoroughly
Gradually add the stock and bring to the boil stirring all the time to prevent any lumps forming.
Turn down the heat to a simmer...taste, season and add the thyme.
Simmer for around 30-40 minutes and it will be ready to serve
For the croutes,
Slice the baguette on the diagonal into 8 pieces
Toast just one side on a hot grill (broiler)
Turn them over untoasted side upwards
place equal amounts of the grated cheese on each piece making sure the cheese is well distributed
Return to the grill and melt the cheese until bubbling & hot
Place the soup into warmed bowls and top each bowl with a cheese croute then serve immediately