The ultimate soup for cold rainy days. It takes time but its worth the wait, it also is worth mentioning that you should let the croutons sit in the soup for 5 mins to soak up the juices (and so you don't burn your mouth! Guilty as charged!)
1kg medium onions 100g unsalted butter 1 glass dry white wine 1.5lt beef (or chicken) stock 2 – 3 measures brandy or Cognac 1 small French baguette Olive oil for drizzling on the croutons 1 whole clove of garlic, peeled 300g Gruyere, coarsely grated 25g unsalted butter & 25g plain flour worked into a soft paste (to thicken the soup, this is called a Beurre Manier)
1. Peel the onions. Top and tail them, cut in half lengthways, then into 5mm slices. Gently melt the butter in a frying pan, then tip in the onions. Raise the heat to medium and, tossing or stirring occasionally, fry until they begin to sizzle. At this point turn down the heat to medium/low and cook the onions, tossing or stirring occasionally, until soft and well browned. This can take an hour or two, so be patient – it is the most important stage in making a great onion soup!
2. Transfer the caramelised onions to a roomy saucepan. Deglaze the frying pan with a little water, scraping up the residue. Add to the saucepan. Add the dry white wine, beef stock and brandy, then simmer gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes to evaporate the raw alcohol and infuse the stock with a deep caramelised onion flavour. Turn up the heat to a simmer, then add small lumps of the Beurre Manier, whisking into the soup until well incorporated. Simmer for ten minutes or so, whisking occasionally until slightly thickened.
3. Cut eight 1cm slices from the baguette and drizzle a little oil on both sides, rubbing it in with your fingers. Lightly toast on both sides. Rub the garlic clove on both sides. Double them up on a baking sheet with each pair of slices slightly overlapping. Sprinkle heavily with the grated Gruyere and place under a hot grill until golden and bubbling.
4. Pour the soup into four French onion soup bowls (for that authentic touch), then place a pair of cheesy croutons on each. Allow five minutes resting, during which the soup will be at a good supping temperature and the baguette will have softened slightly.