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French onion soup

This is one of the most delicious, warming & filling of soups.
For a vegan version make croutons instead of cheesy toast.
For gluten free use gluten free bread!


Serves 4

5 onions thickly sliced
35g butter
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons muscavado sugar
1 litre beef stock (or vegetable if you prefer but add a teaspoon of marmite)
100ml white wine
50ml brandy
sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Sweat the onions in butter together with the herbs in a large pan with a lid and cook for approximately 40 minutes with the lid on but stirring every 5 minutes or so to stop the onion from sticking. The slightly brown bits of the onion at the bottom of the pan will add colour to the soup. When the onions are very soft and caramel in colour, add the garlic and stir for a couple of minutes, then the sugar.  Add wine and brandy and stir briskly for another couple of minutes. Add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes. If you are using vegetable stock, add a teaspoon of marmite to add a bit of colour and flavour.

In the meantime either put the bread in the oven for 5 minutes or toast if using slices of sour dough bread.

Adjust seasoning, add a splash more wine or brandy if required.
Ladle into bowls, top with a couple pieces of bread each, sprinkle cheese on top and place bowls under the grill for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese. Make sure the bowls are ovenproof! Serve immediately while piping hot but being careful not to burn your mouth!

Approximate cost £3.50