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French onion soup (soupe a l'oignon)

The French, without doubt, makes the best onion soup in the world: it is a perfect combination of smooth textures and flavours.

While every region and bistro across France has its own version of this classic dish, very few non-French restaurants seem to be able to make a decent bowl of French onion soup.

We cannot understand why, because it is a simple enough dish to prepare at home, as we do on cold and wet winter nights (that is, frequently).

This excellent recipe for French onion soup, from Fran Ward’s lovely cookbook "New Bistro", is the best we’ve made in a very long time. For the best results, use a good table wine, high-quality, low-salt beef stock, and a baguette (French bread stick). Enjoy!

Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • 6 large onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml or approximately 25 gram) flour
  • 750 ml (3 cups) beef stock
  • 250 ml (1 cup) red wine
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 16 slices of French bread, each about 2 cm thick
  • 100 gram grated cheese (Gruyere, or a good cheddar)

Method

  1. Sauté the onions and garlic very gently in a saucepan, over medium heat, for 30 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat and sauté for a further 5 minutes to colour the onions, but be very careful not to burn it.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and mix in well.
  4. Slowly pour in the stock while stirring gently. The flour should dissolve completely.
  5. Add wine and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. You might not even need the extra seasoning, depending on the quality of the stock and wine
  6. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and leave to simmer for at least an hour, stirring from time to time
  7. Toast the bread on one side under the grill.
  8. Ladle the soup into oven-proof soup bowls and top each bowl with four slices of bread, toasted side down.
  9. Top each with grated cheese and grill until the cheese is melted and bubbly.