French Onion Soup

We are just back from holidays and back to school is in full swing. September is a month I always loved, never minded going back, and I actually loved the process of covering my books, getting new stationary, notepads, pens and pencils. I still love notebooks and regularly get presents of pads brought back by people from their travels or spotted while out shopping. I love the weather too in Autumn, I remember in college days after summers abroad really looking forward to coming home and getting into my boots and jumpers for the winter…. ( I know, I’m strange, I admit it!)

This soup suits those kinds of days, getting cooler and blustery but still not so cold that you need a really big meal to warm you up. This makes a very hearty bowl with delicious sweetness of the onions balanced by the salty cheese. I used a balsamic vinegar with pomegranate molasses in it to add a dash of flavour to the soup as well as a few drops dribbled on top of the cheesy toasts.. delicious.

1.4kg of brown onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic peeled crushed and mashed
1 ltr good quality beef stock
1 cup of water
2 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp flour
2 sprigs of thyme de-stalked and chopped
2oz butter
4oz Gruyere cheese
Crusty bread sliced to make yummy Cheesy toasts

Melt the butter at a quite hot heat and tip in the onions garlic and thyme leaves.
Stir well to coat everything with butter and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until they soften.
Season stir then turn up the heat to start the caramelisation process. I use a wooden spoon with a flat top and as the caramel starts to form on the pot, use the spoon to scrape it all off. This is how the lovely dark caramelised onions you need for the soup happens. Keep the heat up high,keep scraping and stirring until the onions are a delicious deep golden brown. Have a quick taste and they will be lovely and sweet, just like you want. Sprinkle over the flour and cook out for a few minutes, add the brandy and balsamic and stir well, turn the heat to medium at this point and add the stock and stir. Season and cook for about 5 minutes or so. Taste and adjust your seasoning as needed.

Prepare the toasts by placing slices of crusty bread on a tray. Lightly oil and sprinkle a good amount of cheese on top and cook under the grill until lovely and melted.
Ladle spoons of soup into a bowl,top with a cheesy toast and sprinkle a drop or two of the balsamic on top. Serve and enjoy…..perfect mid week supper or Sunday lunch starter in small portions.

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