French Onion Soup Recipe
Massive Spanish Onions
Look at the size of these onions! I had to make this as my neighbour had kindly given us two humongous onions at the beginning of the week. I’d used about half of one on the two previous night’s meals but I was never going to get through them otherwise so decided to give this soup a try.
4 large Spanish onions (about 900g) (or one from my neighbour!)
3 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
300ml dry white wine
1 rounded tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp Swiss vegetable bouillon
For the topping
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil
4 long slices from a baguette
25g Parmesan, coarsely grated
50g gruyere, coarsely grated
(1) Cut the onions in half lengthways, then slice down into very thin slices. Heat a very large pan, add the oil when hot, stir in the onions, 3 of the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves, then season with a little salt. It will seem like a lot of onions, but they reduce right down. Cook over a high heat for 5 mins, stirring often. The onions shouldn’t brown yet, just start to soften. Lower the heat, then cook slowly for 35 mins, uncovered, stirring often until the onions have reduced right down and are very soft. (BBCGF)
Cutting the onions, or in my case, THE onion, took forever. Thankfully they weren’t the tear-inducing kind or I think I may have given up although the upside down teaspoon in the mouth trick has worked for me in the past to avoid this. I was a bit dubious about heating the oil very hot as I was sure the onions on the bottom would burn but I did it. Even though the pan was nearly overflowing with onions at the start they did shrink greatly. I kept stirring for the 5 minutes and managed to avoid any burnt bits.
(2) While the onions are cooking, bring the wine to a boil in a small pan, then bubble away for 30 secs. Remove and leave to cool. Tip the flour into a small heavy pan and toast over a medium heat for a few mins, stirring occasionally, until light brown in colour. Set aside. (BBCGF)
OK boiling the wine was fine but toasting the flour made me nervous. I’d toasted some spices a few weeks before and had burnt them so I was more careful this time. I stirred constantly and turned off the heat at the first sign of browning, letting the heat of the pan do the rest.
(3) When the onions are very soft and reduced, turn up the heat so they caramelise, then cook for another 12-15 mins, stirring along the bottom of the pan occasionally to mix in the brown sticky bits. When the bottom of the pan and all the onions are sticky and a rich brown colour, stir in the flour. With the heat still high, gradually pour in the wine, again stirring in the bits from the bottom. Pour in 1.2 litres of cold water. Stir in the bouillon, then slowly bring everything to the boil. Skim off any froth from the surface. Simmer for 15 mins so all the flavours can mingle. (BBCGF)
Uum caramelising – I’ve never had much luck with this either. The only brown sticky bits I got on the bottom of the pan were burnt bits, however the onions did brown after a while so I added the flour then.
1.2 litres of water seemed like a lot and we prefer our soups thicker rather than watery so I only put in 0.75 litres. The resulting soup was quite thick so a bit more water would have been better.
Bouillon – what is this? I went with a vegetable Oxo cube (kindly donated by my in-laws in the UK as I can’t get them here in Spain)!
“Skim off any froth” … how rude, I won’t have any froth on my soup – or so I thought. WRONG – I did, and skimmed it off as told.
(4) While the soup simmers, make the topping. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas6. Mix the garlic and the oil together. Brush all over the bread slices, then cut each one into cubes. Scatter over a baking sheet, then bake for 8-10 mins until golden. Set aside. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or a sheet of non-stick silicone. Remove the leaves from the remaining thyme sprig, then mix with the grated Parmesan. Scatter and spread over the lined baking sheet into a 13 x 8cm rectangle. Bake for about 8 mins until melted and turning golden. Remove, leave to firm up, then snap into jagged pieces. (BBCGF)
Luckily I have a baguette delivered from my Spanish bread van to my door every day so this bit was easy. This amount of garlic and oil though, only covered one side of my baguette slices. I figured this was enough and got it in the oven. I didn’t have any parmesan though as I can’t get past the smell so skipped this bit, preferring to sprinkle grated Cheddar on the end result.
TASTE ON TRIAL
Fabulous. Simon and I both really enjoyed it and were glad there was enough to freeze for next week.