French Onion Soup
I’m starting off with something that’s simple, but incredibly rewarding. There’s nothing quite so comforting as French Onion Soup made properly – and it’s not hard to make properly.
My wife makes me do this one every time she reads ‘Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire’, and she reads the bit where Mrs. Weasley is making onion soup. When my youngest is sick, it’s not chicken noodle he wants, it’s my French Onion. It’s that kind of hominess.
Over the years I’ve tried many different recipes for French Onion soup, but I’ve found that the simple recipe I’ve adapted from an old Margaret Fulton cookbook I’ve owned since the early 80s just can’t be bettered. Other cooks have tried to fancy things up, by adding things like balsamic, but it just tastes like poncy crap; in this case, simplicity is clearly the key.
What do I need?
- 60g butter (basically, a decent sized knob scooped up with a wooden spoon)
- 1kg Brown onions, sliced
- 2 or 3 cloves garlic, sliced thickly
- 5 Cups beef stock
- Salt & pepper
- 1 baguette or French stick
- 1 Cup grated cheese
What do I do?
Melt the butter in a large pan on low heat, and fry the onions very gently until they go soft and golden, stirring occasionally. This will take a while – probably about 30 to 40 minutes, but it’s well worth taking a little time now to get the best result. If you cook the onions too quickly, they’ll burn and turn bitter and have a horrible poo-brown colour.
Once the onions are cooked, add the garlic and fry for a few minutes more.
Add the stock, and salt and pepper to taste. Personally, I like mine peppery, but I go a little easier than I’d like on the pepper, because not everyone’s a fan, and I can always add more to mine when it’s dished up.
Bring the soup to the boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Slice the baguette into good, thick slices – about two centimetres thick – and toast them lightly under the grill. You can grill the cheese on the bread slices now if you like, but I prefer to throw it on when I put everything into the bowls to serve.
Ladle the soup into bowls, and top with a slice of baguette. Sprinkle some cheese on top, and chuck them back under the grill for a moment until the cheese melts.
Serve immediately – and don’t forget to warn everyone that the bowls will be a bit hot!