I love French food. When we traveled to France a couple of years ago, the one thing I had on my bucket list was a proper French Onion Soup, served with a glass of red wine. I expected to find it in a little bistro in Paris, but I ended up finding my soup raison d’être in a hotel restaurant in Les Houches (near Chamonix).
As we were traveling in the fringe season, before the hordes of Brits arrive in the French Alps, we were the ONLY people staying in our monstrous hotel. It felt a little like The Shining, if it weren’t for the wonderfully kind staff. Anyhow, when we went down for dinner that night, I was praying there was french onion soup on the menu. And lo and behold! There was an entree, which the chef was happy to convert to a main size, just for me.
My soup arrived piping hot, with slices of baguette and melted gruyere oozing over the sides. I was convinced I had died and gone to heaven. Needless to say I slept very well that night with a full belly.
Flash forward to New Year’s Eve 2017! We’ve having a quiet one this year, and it’s also the anniversary of our engagement. So it’s becoming a bit of a tradition for me to cook something special for dinner. It’s raining, and a tiny bit cooler, so I decided to make my favourite soup!
I was short a few ingredients (including white wine… whaaaat?!) and so I’ve put a bit of my own twist on it as I usually do. I used this recipe by Gimme Some Oven as my guide.
- 3-4 medium sized onions, sliced thinly
- 100g butter
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (or you can use white/red wine if you have it)
- 1.5l beef stock (or a vegetarian equivalent like I used)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp dried thyme (or fresh if you have it – I couldn’t keep mine alive 😦 )
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 French baguette
- 1 block of Gruyere cheese
- Melt the butter in a pot, until it’s bubbling and super hot. Add onions, and caramelise them until they’re brown and smelling amazing. Don’t burn them though!
- When your onions are looking nice and brown, add the garlic and cook for a further minute or two.
- Add flour and mix – the onions will now be very sticky.
- Deglaze the pot with the balsamic vinegar, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to get all that goodness.
- Now here’s where I deviate from the normal method of preparing this soup – transfer your onions to a cast iron crock. Add half a cup of the stock to your original pot to unstick any caramelisation, and then pour that, along with the rest of your beef stock, into the crock.
- Add the bay leaf and thyme, before popping on the lid and putting the crock into a 180ºC oven for approx. two hours.
- The soup will likely be quite runny, so thicken with a slurry of flour or cornflour to get to the consistency you like (I like it slightly thickened but not too much).
- Cut the baguette into 2cm slices, and lay on top of the soup. Sprinkle grated gruyere over the top and put into the oven on grill until the cheese is brown and crispy.
- Serve with a big glass of wine, and most of all, enjoy!