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Onion Soup; French - Recipe
A deservedly classic dish, which can be a substantial starter, or, when served with good bread, a meal in its own right. Although good vegetarian versions can be made using proprietary stock brands - such as Marigold Bouillon - you need homemade dark chicken stock (q.v.) to make something truly excellent.
If you have the time, try not to hurry the making of this soup, as its success largely lies in its long, slow cooking process.
If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at http://www.gourmetbritain.com/cookery-wine-schools/32475/simon-scrutton-cookery-classes/ - learn how to make top-class dishes from beginners upwards.
- Suitable for Vegetarians
- Suitable for Vegans
For 4 generous helpings: (although it might be worth doubling-up and freezing the leftovers)
90gr/3 oz Butter
5 large Spanish Onions or 6 large English Onions (the former are better for this dish, as they are sweeter and less fiery) - or you can use a mixture (as in the photograph)
4 medium cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely-chopped
2 teaspoons (10ml) Caster Sugar
3 tablespoons (45ml) Flour
1 litre 'Dark Chicken Stock' (q.v.) or stock made with a good proprietary brand, such as Knorr or Marigold (see note above)
300ml / ½ pint Dry White Wine
½ teaspoon Dried Herbes de Provence - the best, containing both green anise & lavender comes from www.gourmetherbs.co.uk (http://www.gourmetherbs.co.uk/)
1 Bay Leaf
Salt and plenty of freshly-ground Pepper to taste (the quantity will depend on the saltiness of your initial stock)
8 small slices from a French loaf, about 2cm/¾ ins thick, either one day old, or very lightly toasted
1 extra clove of Garlic for rubbing the French bread croûtes
120gr/4 oz freshly-grated Gruyere or Parmesan Cheese (or a mixture of both)
1. Melt the butter over a low heat in a heavy saucepan big enough to hold all the ingredients.
2. Add the thinly-sliced onions and cook them gently until they're translucent.
3. Add the sugar and increase the heat to medium and cook until the onions are golden brown but not burnt.
4. Reduce the heat, add the garlic and after a further minute the flour, mixing this well in.
5. Slowly add the stock & wine, mixing it in until you have a smooth mixture.
6. Add the Herbes de Provence and Bay Leaf and increase the heat to medium, stirring occasionally until the soup comes to the boil.
7. Reduce the heat to maintain a bare simmer, and cook at this slow speed for 1 hour.
8. Check the soup for seasoning and the soup is now ready to serve.
Do this by rubbing each side of the French bread slices (croûtes) with a halved clove of garlic, then either allowing your guests to help themselves to these - by floating one on top of the soup sprinkled with self-service cheese.
Or doing this in the kitchen, and quickly melting the floating cheese under the grill. This can be repeated a second time, with the second croûte and remaining cheese as the meal progresses.