What makes an exceptionally delicious French onion soup? To food, wine and travel writer Paola Westbeek, the most essential element is time. She suggests that slowly cooking the onions is one of the most important steps in order for them to gently caramelize and infuse the broth with all of their natural sweetness.
- 50g butter
- 1 kilo onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, pressed
- Small bunch of thyme, plus 4 small sprigs for the toasts
- 1 tsp raw cane sugar
- Fine sea salt & freshly cracked pepper
- 1½ tbsps all-purpose flour
- 1½ tbsps Armagnac
- 1L strong beef stock
- 4-6 thick slices of sourdough bread
- Handful of Gruyère, freshly grated
1Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pan over a gentle heat.
2Add the onions, garlic, thyme, sugar and a little salt and pepper. Stir, place a lid on the pan and allow everything to cook for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.
3Stir in the flour and cook for three minutes. Turn up the heat, add the Armagnac and follow with the stock.
4Allow the soup to cook for an additional 10 minutes, without the lid. Taste and correct the seasoning.
5To make the croutons: Put the pieces of bread on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
6Top each piece with grated cheese and a sprig of thyme. Place under a hot grill for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese melts. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!
7Divide the soup over the bowls and top with a piece of toast.
Recipe curtesy of Paola Westbeek’s “MY WINTER KITCHEN: WARMING RECIPES FOR THE COLDEST MONTHS”