French onion soup, combines a classic beef stock with loads of onions. Made even better by the tempting addition of a cheesy Gruyere topped crouton finished under the grill.
French onion soup is one of my favourite things to eat, doubtless my favourite soup. Steaming hot onion soup, topped with a bubbling cheese crouton, what’s not to love! I first tasted this soup on a school trip to Paris when I was 16, it was love at first bite and I have adored with this particular comfort food ever since.
Over the years I have experimented much with this soup, finally settling on this recipe a few years ago. Some recipes add sugar, however I spoke with a French chef who assured that when cooked correctly onions were sweet enough. He was of course quite correct and ever since I have omitted adding anything to sweeten the soup.
In addition to sugar, there are also many variations when it comes to adding alcohol. For example, some recipes suggest brandy, whereas others use no alcohol at all. After some experimenting I settled upon dry white vermouth, however a good white wine works just as well.
Finally, one of the most important considerations, the beef stock. Whereas I always have homemade beef stock in the freezer (with the sole purpose of making this soup), I am aware that many of you will not. Therefore I would suggest that you use the best quality beef stock available to you.
The result of all this experimentation has resulted in what I consider to be a lovely bowl of soup. Furthermore my eldest daughter shares my love of this soup, I’ve always an excuse to make it.We struggle not to eat it straight from the oven when it’s too hot. Indeed we are both huge fans of this humble soup, sweet onion broth topped with cheesy bread.
If you haven’t tried this soup before give it a try as it is simple and quick to cook, besides cheese and onion is food pairing heaven.
French Onion Soup
- 80 g butter
- 1 kg onions - sliced
- 4 cloves garlic - crushed
- 125 ml dry white vermouth - or dry white wine
- 1 ltr good quality beef stock
- 1 bouquet garni - thyme, parsley & bay
- salt & pepper
- 4 slices thick cut french baguette
- 200 g grated gruyere
- fresh parley - chopped
- Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onions and garlic and stir well to combine. Reduce the heat and cook the onion mixture slowly for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened and are caramelised. Take care not to burn the onions as this will only make the soup bitter.
- Increase the heat in the pan and pour in the white vermouth, keep stirring and reduce the wine by half.
- Add the beef stock to the pan, along with the bouquet garni, salt & pepper. Bring the soup to the boil, before reducing to a simmer. Place the lid on the pan and cook gently for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile place 4 slices of thick cut French baguette on a tray and place under the grill. Lightly toast both sides of the bread.
- When the soup is ready check the seasoning and then ladle into some oven proof bowls. It is easier when the bowls are placed on an oven-proof tray first as it makes them easier to handle.
- Place a piece of bread on top of each bowl, sprinkle over some grated gruyere cheese and some chopped parsley. Place the tray back under the grill until the cheese has melted and is bubbling. Serve the soup immediately.
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