I remember in my early teens being inspired to try something new. I found a recipe for french onion soup using a well known brand's oxtail soup as the base. I remember agonising over the length of time it took to cook the onions. But once it was served it was one of the most wonderful things I'd ever tasted. As the years went on I didn't think to make it again until I had a broth company aged 30. I'd somehow forgotten the wonderful simplicity of it. And it still astounds me how naturally sticky and sweet the onions can become with only a little fat, a long slow cook and a splash of water. I despair when people use sugar to sweeten this dish, it seems like such a shame. They are sweet enough I tell you, they just require patience! Something thats taken me 20 years to try and master.
Serves: 2 people
Time: 60 minutes
* indicates optional ingredients
2 onions - sliced into rings approx 1mm thick
3 cloves of garlic crushed
100ml filtered water
2 tbsp plain flour (gluten free options work just as well)
*100ml wine (white or red)
Thyme (2 tsp dried or 2 springs of fresh thyme leaves)
2 pouches of Borough Broth Co. Grass-Fed Organic Beef Bone Broth
*1/4 tsp sea salt
*Generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 thick slices of bread (slightly stale works well)
50g Gruyere cheese sliced (cheddar will work)
Generous shaving of parmesan cheese
Heat up the butter in a large heavy based pan on a low-medium heat. Once foaming, add the onions in a single layer.
Keep the heat low as the onions start to slowly cook. You barely want the pan to make a noise and after 20 minutes the onions should still be slightly tender and turning translucent.
Stir the onions and be patient. It might take a further 20 minutes before they start to colour. Stir them every 5 minutes then leave them to slowly caramelise. The key is to ensure they cook through and become soft and sweet without crisping up.
After around 40-50 minutes, the pan should be almost dry and the onions should be a deep brown. Add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring.
At this point turn up the heat to medium high and add the water. Reduce until the onions are wilted and cooked down into a soft sticky mess.
At this point stir the flour into the onion mix to cook it off.
Then add the wine - again you want a sizzle. Reduce the wine down until it’s almost completely evaporated, then add the thyme, broth and salt and pepper. The soup can simmer away for a further 20 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
Meanwhile, slice the bread and toast it.
When ready to serve turn the grill to maximum. Prepare the crouton by layering the gruyere and parmesan on the toasted bread. Place under the grill, keeping a close eye on it to ensure it browns but doesn't burn.
Serve the soup in two bowls, garnish with the cheesy croutons and enjoy.