Simple French onion soup
This is a lovely rich soup, packed with flavour. I serve it all through the year, most often with warm freshly baked baguettes and homemade cultured butter. I vary the onions that I use depending on what I have in the garden. Mild, large white onions give the soup a gentle sweetness, whist red onions are great for colour as well as flavour and have more antioxidants. The only onions I tend to avoid using are those eye-watering strong ones. I hate crying whilst chopping them.
The key to success with this recipe is to let the onions become really well caramelised. Really cooking them down brings out a wonderful sweetness that contrasts beautifully with the slight acidity of the wine and vinegar. It’s a;so great with slices of toasted sourdough bread, topped with grated Gruyere cheese that’s been grilled long enough to just start melting.
Makes 4 hearty portions
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 good-sized onions, peeled and sliced fairly finely
- 1 tablespoon brown raw cane sugar
- 2 or 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1.5l vegetable stock
- ½ cup white wine
- a little apple cider vinegar, to taste
- a few sprigs of lemon thyme leaves only
- 2 bay leaves
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 slices sourdough bread
- 50g grated Gruyere cheese
- sharp knife
- large saucepan
- wooden spoon
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 or 10 minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Add the sugar and stir it through the onions. Cook for a good 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on the onions as they cook and give them a stir from time to time. You might need to reduce the heat a little to prevent them from catching on the bottom of the pan.
When the onions are a lovely deep golden colour, add the garlic, stock, wine, cider vinegar, thyme and bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to the boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, lightly toast the slices of sourdough. Lay each slice on a baking tray and sprinkle the grated cheese evenly across the top of the bread. Put the tray under a hot grill until the cheese is beginning to melt.
Before serving, remove the bay leaves and taste again for seasoning. Spoon ladlefuls of the soup into four bowls and add a slice of the Gruyere-topped sourdough to each one.
Allergen information: contains gluten, dairy (in bread and cheese to serve), if using stock cubes they may contain celery.