Soupe A L'oignon

The humble onion 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 Frenchmen riding very drunkenly on bicycles, loaded with magnificent entwined onions.

Soupe A L'oignon

Ingredients Required

2 tbsp Unsalted butter
8 Medium Roscoff or Spanish onions (*1), cut in half and then sliced into 3mm slices
1 tbsp Plain flour, toasted in a preheated oven 170°C for 30 minutes (*2)
200ml Dry white wine, boiled for 30 seconds to remove the alcohol
1.5l Boiling water (beef or chicken stock can be used)
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1tsp Sugar (optional)
Croutons to serve
12 slices Baguette, cut 1cm thick
150g Gruyère cheese, grated

Cooking Method

Softening the onions

1. 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 and finishing the soup

2. Continue cooking the onions for 20–30 minutes to achieve an even, rich brown caramel colour. Stir every 2–3 minutes to prevent burning. Stir the flour into the caramelized onions and mix thoroughly. 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 croutons and serving

3. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking tray and sprinkle two thirds of the grated Gruyère 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 Gruyère separately.