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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

French Onion Soup

I'm in full on autumn mode now. I've got my boots out the cupboard, my camel coat on and the latest County Homes & Interiors mag ready to scatter dried up leaves and twigs and shit in my home (well not really but you get the point). I love it when seasons start to change, especially the transition to colder weather. Back come the soups, stews and roasts in rickety old pubs, and the hope that the next six months will be all crisp, cold mornings, blue skies, flurries of fluffy white snow and magnificent icy displays. It's the magical time of hope before the grey, grisly reality of British winter seeps in through your socks. 
French onion soup is a real classic warmer and a perfect sweet, cheesy welcome to September. A bit premature you might feel, but sod it. This is one is too good to wait for.  

To make you will need:
6 large onions
Beef stock (enough to fill your pot)
Brandy (or Marsala/Madeira wine or even sherry is good)
Glass of white wine (and the rest for drinking!)
Bread for croutons
Gruyère cheese

Chop up your onions into thin slices. Warm a tablespoon or two of butter in your pan and gently begin to fry them. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so they become soft and glistening. 

Then, chop up a couple of cloves of garlic, pop them in with the onions and keep cooking, letting the onions stick to the pan (without burning) so they go a deep, rich, brown colour. This part is really important, as it's the caramelisation of the onions which makes them sweet and gives the soup all of the flavour. Keep going for about half an hour. 

Once they're nice and brown, add in a load of brandy (I used half this bottle) and the white wine, and stir in. Pour over your beef stock and simmer for another 20 minutes on a soft boil with the lid off. The soup should reduce a bit and go more sticky and thick in texture. Add in some pepper (you won't need salt with the stock) and taste. It should be all melded in together nicely. If not, let it simmer some more. 

To serve, ladle into some nice deep bowls and plonk a piece of thick toasted bread on top with a pile of melted Gruyère cheese (if you can't get this kind, just get one that will melt well - any Swiss cheese would do). Pop it under the grill for a minute or two until the cheese is bubbling. Sprinkle on a bit of parsley and enjoy. This soup will make you crave winter all year round! 

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