For me French onion soup is one of those winter treats I look forward to all year. A good beef stock, sweet onions, crusty bread and bubbling cheese. There’s something a little ritualistic in the preparation and eating. The huge pile of sliced onions on the chopping board, the nursing of them on the stove until the reach the perfect point of sweet golden brown without getting burnt. The excruciating first mouthful – scalding hot but you eat it anyway and suffer the annoyance of a scalded mouth for days as penance for your impatience.
It’s one of those meals that doesn’t need a lot of extra frippery. You can add some herbs if you like, but it doesn’t really need it. You can add cognac, but again, if you don’t it’s not missed. The two keys things in making the soup are a good stock, and the time to get the onions to the perfect point of brown. I’m a fan of golden, not dark brown.
I’ve opted to use all butter to fry the onions instead of a mix of butter and oil. This means a smaller volume of fat overall, but still gives you that wonderful flavour of butter that the onions need. I’ve also opted for just a small amount of cheese, the goodness is in the soup anyway. The serving size is small, but it’s a perfect dinner with a salad alongside to freshen the palate.
Slender French Onion Soup
2 tbsp butter
6 onions, cut in half and sliced
1 tbsp white flour
½ cup white wine
1 litre beef stock
8 slices of baguette
8 tsp gruyere
- Heat a large pot on a medium heat and add the butter. When it has stopped foaming add your onions. Stir well to coat the onions in the butter. Reduce the heat to low.
- Cook the onions until they are golden brown, stirring often and at a heat low enough to avoid burning. This can take up to an hour.
- Add the flour and stir.
- Add the wine, then the beef stock and stir.
- Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Ladle into soup dishes and top with a slice of baguette. Sprinkle with grated cheese and grill (broil) until the cheese has melted.