I have been meaning to tackle the godfather of soups, actually, since I started this little project. French onion soup is a rare treat, which I think I’ve only had a few times in my life, and I have an indelible memory of its rich oniony sweetness.
The recipe looks simple, but this was actually the second attempt I made. The original recipe I based it on used flour, which had the effect of thickening the soup and turning it into gravy — delicious onion gravy, to be sure, but a far shot from what I was aiming for.
But this recipe is lovely — sweet, onion-y and rich!
- 5 medium-sized onions (around 700g), thinly sliced
- 30g butter
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1.25 litres beef stock (use two stock cubes)
- 300ml white wine
- Crushed croutons, to serve
- Melt the butter in the oil in a large saucepan, over a medium heat. Fry the sliced onions, along with the sugar, until they caramelise. It will take 30 minutes to an hour, and they should finish thick, brown and sticky — and very sweet!
- Add the stock and the wine, and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for an hour. Season, and serve with the crushed croutons.
The most important thing, is not to rush the onions. The caramelisation process is key to the whole thing, and it will take a fair old time. Don’t hurry it, as long as it doesn’t burn you can’t caramelise them too much, and it all adds to the colour and flavour of the finished product.
It’s also, as you may have noticed, not the healthiest of soups. One interesting trick I found — if not eating immediately — is to chill once cooled with cling film resting on the surface of the soup. The butter solidifies on the cling film, and so can be lifted away. I also didn’t do the traditional melted cheese crouton on top, which cuts down the calories. That said, it still has a rather high fat content.
The other point to mention, is that the recipe as above is not vegetarian. I’m not sure if vegetable stock would work as well as beef, but I can’t see why not. The only thing I’d suggest is to make sure the onions are extra caramelised to provide the colouring.
Enjoy, and next week, I’ll be tackling a variation on a beetroot soup (well, if I can find beetroot at this time of year)