French Onion Soup


Seeing as it's 14th July, I thought a quick Bastille Day / French recipe was in order. I am flat out working at the mo, so no big spiel with this recipe - just a super-easy, super-delicious soup to enjoy - imagine rich, dense onions with a whiff of brandy scooped onto cheesey, toasted bread. I know I could have gone all traditional with the grilled French bread slices on top, but I always find them a bit unwieldy - this way you can manage the soggy factor and dig into the onions as you wish. Anyhoo, must dash, a million things to do - will give you the run down next time!

50g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1.2 kilos onions (red or brown, I used red), thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
sprig of thyme
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp caster sugar
1.5 litres beef, chicken or vegetable stock (beef will give you the richest result)
1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp brandy

Melt butter in a big pot with olive oil. Add onions, bay leaves and season generously with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 1/2 an hour over a medium heat. Add thyme, garlic and caster sugar and cook a further 1/2 hour uncovered, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn't catch. Add stock and balsamic and cook half covered (prop lid up a bit with something lie a wooden spoon) over a medium heat for a further 45 minutes. Stir through balsamic and brandy. Serves 4 - this soup is like good French actresses, wine and cheese - it gets even better with age, day 3 is spectacular!

50g butter melted
8 slices thick white bread
1 1/4 cups grated edam cheese
1 1/4 cups grated gruyere cheese
1/4 cup good quality egg mayonnaise
2 tsp dijon mustard
16 slices ham or pastrami

Heat an oven tray in the oven to 200˚C (400˚F). Brush one side of each slice of bread with butter and lay 4 pieces buttered side down on a sheet of baking paper. Mix cheeses with mayo and dijon and divide between the 4 slices. Top with ham or pastrami and second slice of bread, buttered side up. Remove from baking paper to hot oven tray and cook 5-10 minutes until golden, Serve immediately.