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French onion soup

Jenny Chandler

A rich, savoury soup: a Gallic classic

Recipe Meta

Prep

15 mins

Cook

1¼ hours

Serves

4

Difficulty

Medium

Ingredients

  • 1kg onions – preferably large Spanish onions
  • 30g butter
  • 1 heaped tbsp flour
  • 250ml dry white wine
  • 1½ litres of beef, chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • Balsamic vinegar, to taste (optional)
  • Brown sugar, to taste (optional)
  • Baguette, cut into 12 thin slices
  • 150g gruyere or similar cheese, grated

Method

Slice the onions finely – don’t worry if you have a mountain, they will collapse and reduce once you begin to cook them. Melt the butter in a large sauté or frying pan and add the onions, along with a good pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper.

Cook the onion gently, stirring regularly, for anything between 45 mins and 1 hour (larger quantities will take a little longer). The onions will collapse and become almost creamy – the idea is to caramelise but never burn them. The colour and savoury depth of the soup is all down to patience here, so do allow the flesh to become a really deep gold.

Add the flour to the pan and stir it into the onions, cooking it for 2 mins. Slowly pour in the wine, stirring all the time, and allow the pan to come up to the boil. Tip in the stock – I love the richness of a good beef stock, but that’s up to you. Add the herbs and simmer for about 15 mins. Balance the soup with salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and even a little sugar. Place slices of baguette on an oven tray and top with the grated cheese. Grill the croutons for 2 mins, until the cheese is melting and bubbly. Serve the hot soup in bowls, topped with a pair of croutons.

Where to buy these ingredients

Borough Market Online

If you can’t make it to the Market, Borough Market Online offers a wide selection of traders’ produce, delivered direct to your door.