French onion soup

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Overview
Sooo… never really having tried French onion soup before I just didn’t understand what people were on about. Then a really great local restaurant had an awesome approach to the COVID-19 restrictions (if you’re reading this way in the future, look it up on your data crystals and enjoy the memes), which was to provide gourmet take-away food that was heated and assembled in people’s homes. Stephen Mercer had created a French onion styled soup which we all loved, so I decided to give it a go.

Traditional versions keep the onions in their natural lumpy state, but he blitzed his, so I blitzed mine. Silky smooth, delicious and totally worth the time. Extra time if you because you need to make beef stock first – don’t bother with store-bought. In fact, don’t try to do both on the same day.

Oh, and this makes a totally wicked base for a sauce (see my onion paste recipe) with onions and mushrooms. Just sauté some veggies, add some soup, let it simmer and mix through some cream just before serving with kotletes, steak or mashed potato. Yum yum…

Time
3-5 hours (plus a day to make the stock beforehand if you don’t have any)

Ingredients
16 large brown onions, sliced (about 6kg)
150g butter
Salt & pepper to season
2 TB brown sugar
¾ cup white wine (such as chardonnay)
1.5-2 L beef stock (use the fatty cap if there is one)
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1½ ts dried thyme)
3 large / 6 small bay leaves
3-4 ml cognac, per plated serving
80g Gruyere cheese, grated (for serving and for bread side dish)

Serving suggestion: Toasted baguette with olive oil, garlic, gruyere cheese

Equipment
Thermomix (or stick blender)

Method
1 – Melt the butter in a large pot. Add onions and mix through, then leave over low heat for 5-7 hours (less if you’re making a smaller quantity) until caramelised. Don’t stir too often – leave it at least 5-10 minutes between stirring to encourage caramelisation. Add the sugar once the onions have sweated down to help things along.

2 – Once a deep golden brown colour is reached, deglaze the pot with ⅓ of the wine, then add more as the liquid is absorbed. Cook for another 5 minutes.

3 – Add the stock gradually, stirring as each lot is added. Once it is all in, add the thyme and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 20-30 minutes.

4 – While the soup is simmering, cut up some crusty bread, coat with olive oil and toast it in the oven for 1-2 minutes at 220° C. Turn the bread over and toast for another minute. Rub with a freshly cut clove of garlic, then add generous piles of freshly grated gruyere cheese. Toast for another 2-3 minutes or until they look done.

5 – Blitz the soup in 1 litre batches in the Thermomix, speed 10 for 50 seconds. Ladle into serving bowls, add cognac in drops to each bowl and stir. Top with grated gruyere cheese and freshly chopped chives if desired. Dunk your bread and be happy. Very, very, very happy.