French Onion Soup
Recipe from Foolproof French Cookery by Raymond Blanc.
This humble vegetable is very much part of the French culinary anthology, it was probably also responsible for the second invasion of England by the French. I still remember when I first came to England, seeing Frenchman riding very drunkenly on bicycles, loaded with magnificent entwined onions. The quality of the onions is crucial in this recipe. We want both high acidity and high sugar levels to create a fully flavoured soup. The best onions are Pink Roscoff; Spanish Onions, although lacking in acidity, will also work. If you like a strong onion flavour, caramelize the onions for a further 15 minutes until very dark brown.
|For the soup|
|4||Medium Roscoff or Spanish onions, cut in half and then sliced into 3mm slices|
|1 tbsp||Plain flour|
|200ml||Dry white wine, boiled for 30 seconds to remove the alcohol|
|2 pinches||Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper|
|12 slices||Baguette, cut 1cm thick|
|150g||Comté cheese, grated|
Softening the onions
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/ Gas Mark 6. On a high heat, in a large non-stick saucepan, melt the butter without letting it brown. Add the onions and soften for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with 10 pinches of salt and 2 pinches of pepper.
Caramelizing the onions
Continue cooking the onions for 20–30 minutes to achieve an even, rich brown caramel colour. Stir every 2–3 minutes to prevent burning.
Toasting the flour
Sprinkle the flour on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 8–10 minutes, until it is very lightly coloured. Stir the flour into the caramelized onions and mix thoroughly.
Finishing the soup
Gradually stir in the white wine and one third of the boiling water. Whisk well and add the remaining water. Bring to the boil, skim off any impurities from the surface and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning, adding the sugar if required.
Making the croûtons and serving the soup
Arrange the baguette slices on a baking tray and sprinkle two thirds of the grated Comté over them. Place under a hot grill for 3–4 minutes to melt and slightly brown the cheese. Serve the soup in bowls, with the croûtons on top. Serve the remaining Comté separately.
Recipe from Foolproof French Cookery by Raymond Blanc, published by BBC Books.
Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2002.
Photograph © David Griffen 2014.