This may not look like traditional French onion soup, but it is. Sort of. It’s lighter than it *should* be because I used chicken, not beef stock, and cider, not sherry, but the taste, oh the taste. The key to this recipe is time. The longer you cook the onions for, the slower you melt them down, the sweeter they are. This is not to be hurried, no quick cook down and oops they burned a bit there, and stuck there. This is an infinitesimally slow melting, sagging, slooping of onions into a translucent, then yellowy, then goldeny, soft, stringy mess. Over the course of four hours or so. So long as you’re near the kitchen you can potter about and do other things, very occasionally stirring them. Or, and this is my preferred option, curl up on the sofa under a large fleece with a
trashy novel great Russian classic and wrap yourself in the sweet smell of slowly caramelising onions.
French onion soup with cheese toasties
Adapted slightly from Pithy and Cleaver
I used a frozen cube of concentrated homemade stock for this soup. If you don’t have homemade stock use fresh shop-bought stock. The richer and more jelly-like the stock, the silkier and richer the end soup will be, which is fairly crucial when the only other ingredient in the soup is essentially onion.
2 1/2 lbs white onions, preferably large or you’ll spend forever peeling the blighters
1 tablespoon butter
Tiny pinch of salt
1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 200ml water
Pinch of nutmeg
1. In a large casserole or your biggest saucepan melt the butter over a very low heat. Slice the onions into very thin strips and put in the pan with a tiny pinch of salt. Stir very occasionally but mainly just leave over a low heat for 3-4 hours until they have melted down into a golden yellowy brown mess.
2. Once the onions are soft, golden and about a fifth of the starting volume deglaze any brown bits on the pan with the cider. Turn up the heat to a boil, and boil off most of the alcohol over a minute or two. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add the stock and the nutmeg. Simmer for another 20 minutes or so until the liquid has reduced by about half, then salt to taste.
3. Serve with a slice of fresh bread, covered in cheddar (yes, I know it should be Gruyère but I made do with what I had to hand) and browned under a hot grill.