One of the great soups of the world, real French Onion Soup, never fails to please. Right now with the weather in Sydney, cold and raining, it is the perfect tonic to warm the cockles of your heart.
There is nothing difficult about this soup and thankfully tastes nothing like the powdered soup variety.
To date, the best French Onion Soup, I have ever eaten was in Quebec City in Canada. I am sure that the soup had huge handful of Gruyère cheese in it, AS WELL as a crouton covered in melted cheese – but OMG, it was just divine.
Should you be visiting Quebec City, I have no idea what the restaurant was called, but the French Onion soup is one of the signature dishes. Here is a picture of outside, look out for a restaurant with pink windows and flower boxes on the road heading to Hotel Frontenac.
My version uses brown onions and it is important to use good quality stock. I used The Stock Merchant free range beef stock and it was wonderful. You could use chicken stock if you prefer a lighter flavour, or vegetable if you are a Vego. For me, the beef stock was perfect.
One other tip, you could exclude the bread and just add grated Gruyère directly into the soup, or exclude the cheese altogether, if you wish as it still packs a flavour wallop without the cheese.
6 brown onions, sliced
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp plain flour (GF)
1/2 cup dry sherry or vermouth (Noilly Pratt)
1 litre good quality beef or chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you prefer to make it vegetarian)
salt & pepper to season
4 slices of toasted crusty style bread (GF)
1. Cut the onions in half and then slice.
2. Add the butter and onions to a saucepan and on a medium heat, stir until the butter melts and the onion starts to sweat.
3. Reduce the heat to low. Add in the sugar and salt and stir through and cook for about 10mins until the onions start to break down and go really soft.
4. Give a good stir and leaving the lid off, cook on lowest setting and cook until the onions start to caramelise. This will take at least 30-45 minutes. Don’t rush this stage as this is what creates the magic. Stir regularly and keep your eye on the onions as it could burn. (if it does burn, remove the onions, clean out the saucepan and return the onions with a little extra butter and continue cooking).
5. Once onions are golden with flecks of caramelisation, remove from heat and stir in the flour. Cook whilst continue to stir and picking up the onion bits that are stuck the pan. Add the vermouth (or sherry) and stir well to combine until smooth.
6. Stir on the stock. Cover and cook gently for 20mins. Check for seasoning (you could add a splash of brandy or cognac for an even greater oomph, but generally I don’t).
7. Cut some crusty gluten-free bread, grate a generous amount of Gruyère cheese on top and pop under the grill until bubbling.
8. Serve the soup in a deep bowl with the cheese crouton on top.