Oh French Onion Soup how I love thee. There is just something about the taste of the caramelised onions, the crouton and the melted cheese that makes this soup so special.
Like most good French bistro-style recipes our French Onion Soup is made using very few ingredients but is absolutely packed with flavour.
My paternal grandmother spent a year in France with our Family in Nantes, (our French family dates back to the late 1500's) she quickly became fluent in the language, the customs, the twice daily Mass and of course the food. This is her recipe, for French Onion Soup which my our own Mother used to make for us regularly. We've updated a bit and added another few layers of flavour.
They say that Chicken Soup is soup for the soul, a cure for all ills and as much as I love it, I believe that our French Onion Soup trumps It.
Recipe (Serves 6)
2Kg of onions
A generous knob of butter
1 tbsp of caster sugar
1 litre of beef stock ( if you are vegetarian or vegan, a vegetable bouillon is great)
1 large glass of dry sherry, Fino is great.
A splash of brandy
Half a bottle of red wine
A handful of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 baguette, sliced into croutons
A handful of grated gruyere cheese
In a heavy based pan melt the butter and and add the sugar. Once the sugar has started to melt add the onions in batches and sauté until completely softened and caramelised. Add the thyme, the stock, sherry, wine and brandy and then bring to the boil. Reduce after a minute to a simmer, place a lid on and cook for 45minutes and if you are using the slow cooker then let it bubble away for 3-4 hours.
Remove the lid after the cooking time and stir through, removing any thyme stalks, season to taste. Ladle into bowls, cut a some thin slices of baguette and lightly toast. Just before serving, float the toasted crouton on top of the soup and add a small handful of grated cheese. Then place under a very hot grill until the cheese is melting. Serve piping hot with an extra few slices of baguette. Heaven.