French onion soup is a dish that is very appealing during winter – rich, thick and served piping hot – but its virtues find less favour in warm weather. In our home, it is made alternately with pea and ham soup, another winter warmer.
In the 1960s, with French food in the ascendancy around Melbourne, French onion soup appeared on more restaurant menus than there were chefs who knew how to prepare it. Based on our experience in the northern winter of 2009/10, this could be true of the soup’s homeland today; a case of tourists’ appetites overwhelming local culinary capacity.
I am pretty much redundant when it is cooked in our kitchen – it is Maggie’s recipe and she has the contact lenses that come in handy when slicing so many onions! However, she does enlist the input of my palate before she finalises the seasoning.
We have given it the moniker ‘FO soup’ but there is nothing faux about the end result. It’s really delicious!
1 kg brown onions
90g unsalted butter
1 tsp salt flakes
1 tbsp (20ml) sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
1 cup white wine
1¾ litres beef stock
2 tbsp brandy
- Peel and halve onions and cut into fine slices, discarding any woody cores
- Melt butter in a large pan, add onion and salt flakes and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the onion is deep gold and soft (this will take at least 15 minutes).
- Add sugar and cook until the onion is beginning to caramelise and is light golden brown in colour.
- Add plain flour, cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the wine, stock and brandy. Bring to the boil, stirring to integrate the flour with the liquids. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Serve with slices of bread stick which have been lightly toasted, then topped with grated Gruyere cheese and placed back under the griller until the cheese begins to melt. Place pieces of the toast in warm bowls and ladle the soup over the top..