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French onion soup relies heavily on onions and stock, and is often served alongside crusty bread covered in cheese floating on top. Although the soup is ancient in origin, it gained popularity again in the 1960s in the United States thanks to a peak in interest in French cuisine. Whether served as a dinner party starter, or a mid-week family meal, this recipe will ensure your French onion soup is the envy of cooks everywhere.
How to make French onion soup
This recipe is from Simply Recipes, and you will need:
- 6 large red onions, peeled and thinly slices
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin love oil
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 8 cups of stock, either beef or chicken
- 1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 slices French bread or baguette cut into 1-inch thick slices
- 1 1/2 cups grated Swiss gruyere or cheddar cheese
Start by caramelising the onions in a thick-bottomed pot by heating three tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and toss to coat with olive oil.
Cook the onions, stirring often until they have softened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high.
Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter to cook, stirring often, until the onions start to brown, probably for another 15 minutes.
Then sprinkle with sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to cook until the onions are well browned, about 10 to 15 more minutes.
Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Next, deglaze the pot with vermouth.
Add the vermouth to the pot and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom and sides of the pot, deglazing the pot as you go along.
Add the stock, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot and lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook for another 30 minutes.
Season to taste with more salt and add freshly ground black pepper. Discard the bay leaves.
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Next, toast French bread slices. While the soup is simmering, line a baking tray with foil or baking paper and preheat to 180C in the upper part of the oven.
Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil, using about a teaspoon and a half for this.
Put in the oven and toast until lightly browned, about five to seven minutes. Remove from the oven.
Turn the toasts over and sprinkle with the grated Gruyere cheese and some parmesan, if using.
Return to the oven when it’s close to serving time and bake until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
To serve, ladle the soup into a bowl and transfer one cheesy toast onto the top of each bowl of soup.
Alternatively, you can use individual oven-proof bowls or one large casserole dish by ladling the soup into them.
Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 160C, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned.
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