French onion soup
There are as many onion soup recipes as there are chefs. With and without wine, with sherry or brandy, white wine or red wine… After one year of experimenting, I’ve settled on port. Because there are so few ingredients, it’s essential to use good quality, rich flavoured stock. Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pots work well for me and give the soup a lovely dark brown colour.
Use a very sharp knife – it will not damage the onion as much and will not make your eyes water.
It will take around 40 minutes for the onions to soften and caramelise. It’s not necessary to stir them all the time but always use low heat and stir more frequently towards the end when all liquid has evaporated. The more brown the onions, the stronger the flavour of the soup – I normally go for a golden colour.
- 1kg brown onions (you can mix in a few red onions or shallots as well)
- a few sprigs thyme
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 30ml port
- 1 litre good quality stock (I use Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pot)
- a splash of balsamic vinegar
- a slice of butter
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- French bread
- Gruyere cheese
- Peel and thinly slice the onions.
- Melt the butter in a heavy pan and add a glug of olive oil. Add the onions and stir.
- Add thyme leaves (discard the stalks) and finely chopped garlic.
- Cook the onions for around 40 minutes on low gas. Stir frequently to prevent burning, particularly towards the end when the liquid has evaporated.
- Once the onions are very soft and golden, add the port, scrape any burnt bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon and boil for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate.
- Add the stock and plenty of ground pepper. Boil for 10 minutes.
- Add a generous splash of balsamic vinegar. Taste and add salt or pepper as needed. Cook for another 30 minutes on low gas.
- Slice French bread diagonally and grill lightly on both sides. Cover with grated Gruyere and grill until melted.
- Serve the soup in a bowl with a couple of French bread slices on top.