This is certainly one of my more heavier recipes! I wouldn’t put this on your midweek healthy menu plan but then this recipe isn’t really designed for a quick dinner after work. It is the kind of dish that you need to enjoy on a cold sunday afternoon after a long walk or curled up on the sofa with a glass of wine hibernating from the wet and miserable winter evenings. There is something so comforting about slow cooked caramelised onions and then dipping in some cheese baguette slices to soak up all that silky, smooth juice!
The humble onion is a key part of french cooking and I can certainly see why. There are very few vegetables out there that offer both the high acidity and high sugar levels to create such a flavour packed soup that makes every slurp all the more enjoyable! I like to caramelise the onions first with a little butter and balsamic vinegar for around 45 mins to give them that soft texture and makes those slices of onions almost melt in the mouth.
Soup of course is all about the taste of the liquid and therefore I recommend that you try and use good quality beef stock. It really does make a difference. It also wouldn’t be a typically French dish unless we use a little bit of white wine, a staple that is always in my cupboard (and no, not for drinking!). And what better way to enjoy this delicious soup and it’s slight ‘sweet and sour’ taste than soaking it all up with some cheese toasts. In fact, I think this is largely what makes this dish so delicious and comforting! Some make little croutons and then drop them into the soup. I find that these are just a little too mushy for me and ruin the texture. I prefer to take a thin french baguette and cut into slices. I then top with some grated gruyère but some grated comté cheese is also delicious. I have become a big fan of comté for it’s nutty and almost sweet flavour. I then pop the slices under a grill for a few minutes. These are best served as a side with the soup so that everyone can just dip them in as they wish.
Leftovers can be kept in the freezer.
- 5 large onions (peeled and thinly sliced)
- 3 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
- 100g grated cheese (gruyère or comté)
- 200ml dry white wine
- 1 litre good quality boiling hot beef stock
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tbpsn balsamic vinegar
- 50g butter
- 1 tspn sugar
- 1 tbpsn plain white flour
- Dash of brandy
- baguette (sliced)
- Small bunch fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- Few sprigs of fresh thyme (leaves picked)
- Salt/ Black pepper
- Melt the butter in a large, deep pan on a low heat. Add the onions and slow cook for around 40 mins. Stir regularly.
- Add the lemon, balsamic vinegar and sugar and cook on the low heath for a further 5 mins. Stir regularly. Then add the thyme and flour. Stir well so that the flour is well combined with the vinegar sauce and onions and that there are no lumps of flour. Whisk in the white wine and then pour in the stock, giving it a good whisk. Turn up the heat to a boil and then bring to a gentle simmer for around 1 hour.
- Just before serving top the slices of baguette with the cheese and pop under a hot grill for a couple of mins or until goden.
- Take the pan off the heat and stir in the fresh parsley. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and serve.