French Onion Soup
Cook Time: ~2 hours 30 minutes
French onion soup is a labour of love, taking upwards of 2 hours to prepare. But outside of monitoring a cooking pot, and occasionally turning some onions, the dish itself is not terribly complicated. The main component is getting the best flavour out of the star ingredient, the onion. I will remind readers that this is my take on the classic soup; whereby I prefer mine ever so slightly sweeter than usual. You may also notice the absence of bread. Traditionally, French onion soup is served with a toasted piece of baguette topped with melted gruyère. I have left an array of “optional ingredients & notes” below detailing how to make turn up the bitterness or sweetness, how to prepare garlic cheese baguette, and more.
Time: ~2 hours 30 Minutes
Information - What you require
• Onions (1kg)
• Beef stock (1.5L)
• Gruyère cheese (150g)
• One bay leaf
• Butter (one fat knob)
• Sugar (1 tsp)
• Brandy (2 tbsp)
• Extra virgin olive oil (1 tbsp)
• Ground black pepper & salt
Optional Ingredients & Notes
• Onions: When sweating the onions, some like to take them down until they are almost black, while others prefer a darker brown than the light caramel brown that I caramelise them to. The choice is yours, but blacker will be more bitter and the lighter the colour, typically the sweeter the onion will be.
• Bread: Traditionally, this soup is served with a nice toasted piece of French baguette, with melted cheese over the top of it. That toasted bread is then plonked on top of the soup to garnish. I tend not to eat bread when I can, thus the defiance of tradition. But if you’d like bread, I would suggest toasting both sides of your sliced baguette, then rubbing raw garlic over the crusted flesh, followed by stocking one side with gruyère and placing it back under the grill to melt. Once melted, top with sliced chives and place on top of your finished soup.
• Stock: Ignore the French, and use chicken stock if you prefer it to beef.
• Sugar: A small teaspoon of sugar is added to the sweated onions in this recipe, but it goes a long way. If you would prefer to rely on the natural sweetness of the onion (which they have plenty of), then you can simply exclude the sugar from the caramelisation process.
• One large pot
Mise En Place - Food preparation
Chop chives. Decant two tablespoons of brandy, one tablespoon of olive oil, one knob of butter and one teaspoon of sugar. Finely grate your gruyère cheese. Finely slice your onions.
First, grab a large cooking pot and bring it to medium heat. Add butter and olive oil and once it begins to bubble, throw in your sliced onions. Stir everything to coat the onions, and then cook the onions, stirring regularly, for ~15 minutes or until they begin to colour and soften. Here comes the labour of love part. Next is the caramelisation process and I want to stress this part can’t be rushed. Turn down the heat to low, and gently cook the onions for 1 hour to 1 hour 45 minutes until they sweat down to a golden brown colour. Ensure you turn the onions regularly to avoid burning and don’t be afraid to taste the onions to grasp how sweet they are. Cook these onions at too high of a heat, and they will become bitter.
Once you are satisfied with the onions, season generously with salt and ground black pepper before pouring in 1.5 litres of beef stock. Bring this to a simmer, throw in one bay leaf, and gently simmer the broth for ~30 minutes. Add two tablespoons of brandy and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and taste and season as appropriate.
To serve, sprinkle over freshly cut chives and a generous helping of grated gruyère cheese.
If you do attempt this dish, please let me know how it goes, and if you variate the recipe in any way. Also, this newsletter relies upon word of mouth, so if you feel you know someone who would enjoy this publication please share it.
Thanks for reading,