Tuesday, November 6, 2007

French Onion Soup

I absolutely love this dish: sweet, cheesy, rich, squelchy, satisfying, it is absolutely my idea of perfection. It is also great to make as it is a slow gentle process that is very relaxing and the smells in the kitchen as it is all going on are rather heady. This is simple, rustic French cooking at its most sublime and I just love it.

This recipe is a direct copy from Delia Smith, it works every time and it tastes absolutely fantastic. What you end up with is a golden, sweet, thick soup layered with cheesy, garlic breaded gorgeousness, and what, pray tell, could be better than that?


800g brown onions
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 cloves garlic peeled and just cut in half.
50g butter
3 tsp granulated sugar
1 litre homemade chicken stock (Delia uses beef but I prefer chicken)
300ml dry white wine
1 french stick
225g gruyere cheese, grated
Olive oil

Peel and thinly slice the onions, you are not chopping them fine but rather slicing them into lots of thin rings.

In a big saucepan melt the butter with 1 tbsp of olive oil over a lowish heat and add the onions and the chopped garlic. Gently stir and let them cook slowly for about ten minutes. Add the sugar, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and carry on cooking very gently. Leave the onions for about 20-30 minutes by which time they will have turned a lovely golden colour and will have caramelised slightly, just don’t let them brown or burn. Slow cooking is the key here, just gentle, slow, lazy cooking.

Pour in the stock and the wine, scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan and whilst still on the lowest flame let it cook for about 1 hour.

Meanwhile slice the baguette on the diagonal and toast enough for two slices per person. Using the garlic cloves that you have peeled and cut in half rub them over both sides of the toasted bread.

When the soup is cooked ladle it into deep bowls that you have warmed in the oven. The best bowls to use are sort of tureen shaped, good and deep but with quite a small surface area. Do make sure the bowls will survive under a hot grill! Float the toasted bread on top of the soup and sprinkle liberally with the grated gruyere. Place under a very hot grill and heat until the cheese is bubbling and has browned a little.

Then pour about two tsp of cognac over each bowl and serve immediately. Do warn the guests that it will be HOT! The heat of the soup really sends out a big strong hit of the cognac and you will have people salivating.

I can assure you that this soup will be a big hit with your guests, this is comfort food at its best and most sophisticated.

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