I haven’t made this for a long time but I woke up this morning to rain that looked like it wasn’t going to stop and really fancied making and eating French onion soup. It’s a delicious warming soup with deep flavours. Perfect comfort food on a cold day and well worth the effort.
Start by making a good vegetable stock mine was mainly made of leek and mushroom trimmings and a carrot. While your stock is simmering peel and slice about 900g – 1kg of onions. I caramelise the onions in a wide frying pan rather than in the soup saucepan as it’s got a much larger surface area. I melted about 75g butter in the pan and then as the onions softened and started to turn golden brown I added 2 cloves of crushed garlic and fried for a while longer. As the onions started to brown I added a tsp. of brown sugar and a tbsp. of balsamic vinegar and fried some more as they browned and caramelised. I then added a tbsp. of plain flour and stirred that in. I then transferred the onions into a thick bottomed saucepan and put a couple of ladles of stock in the frying pan and poured this into the saucepan too. I poured on more stock in total about 900ml and added a 330ml bottle of cider (you can also use white wine which is more traditional but I like the flavour the cider gives the soup), a tsp. of marmite, a couple of bay leaves, a pinch or two of dried thyme (you can use fresh if you have it) and a good grinding of black pepper. I then brought the soup to a boil and then simmered it covered for about 15 mins. Taste and check the seasoning. Meanwhile I lightly toasted 8 slices of French bread and grated about 120g of Gruyère cheese (Emmental is also good) and heated up by grill to hot. Then put 4 bowls on a baking tray and ladled the soup into them (removing the bay leaves) and put two slices of toasted bread on each and liberally covered each with cheese and them ground a little pepper on the top and pout them under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese melted and started to brown. Serve immediately.