French Onion Soup
The key to this recipe is to cook the onions slowly until they become caramelised. Throughout history, onion soup was seen as peasant food because onions were cheap, plentiful and easy to grow. The modern version of this soup originated in France in the 18th century and uses beef stock as its base.
It can be difficult to find a good French onion soup recipe, but I can certainly stand by this version. As this recipe serves more than two, you can enjoy the leftovers the next day. Serves: 4-6
You will need
2 tbsp olive oil
750g onions (about 3 medium onions), sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 litre rich beef stock (made with 1 litre water and 4 beef stock cubes)
200ml white wine
1 tbsp sugar
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Baguette, sliced and toasted
Gruyère cheese, grated
In a large, heavy-based pan (casserole or similar), heat the oil and the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the onions and garlic and sauté over a high heat for five minutes. Reduce the heat and leave to sauté gently for 20 minutes.
It's important to cook the onions slowly and to stir them frequently. The key is to allow the flavours to come out, which will happen as the onions begin to brown and caramelise. Add the stock, wine and sugar, and season with salt and pepper.
Increase the heat and allow to boil for five minutes, and then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 35 minutes. If you like, you can pop some slices of baguette topped with Gruyère cheese under the grill until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve the soup with one or two of these toasted cheese croutons on top.
Use a very good beef stock as this intensifies the flavour. I generally double the concentration of stock and use four stock cubes for the one litre required. A dash of cognac will add great flavour too.
The longer you cook the soup, the more liquid will evaporate. Just be careful to take this into account so that you don't run out when serving.