Now, I know there are many ways to make a French onion soup – obviously some gastronomes would insist there is only one – and perhaps there is – but I like to be open minded about the way food is prepared. Like most of us amateur chefs, I hardly ever follow recipes and much prefer to put my own twist on it.
Experience tells me there are three ways of making French onion soup (Soupe à l’oignon in the French language) – the main difference lies in what’s placed on top of the actual soup.
One option includes covering the bowl with puff pastry, the other simply melting cheese on top of the soup and the third – cheesy toast floating in the bowl. Truth be told I’m a fan of all three. Though I do prefer the puff pastry method. It’s simple and easy, and quite a delight.
For those of you who have never made onion soup, I will share with you how I last went about preparing it. I got 4 massive onions, a heap of butter, some brandy and red wine. Salt, flour, dried thyme, one bay leaf, beef broth, the ever-important black pepper and a big block of Gruyere cheese. Following that I got out a big pot (some would insist on using a dutch oven – not the type of dutch oven you think – but the more conventional thick walled, usually cast-iron cooking pot.)
In the pot, melt butter on a medium heat. Once you have done this add your quartered onions sprinkle with salt and cook until caramelised – this will take a while – it’s important to be patient with the onions so they are cooked right – it is after all an onion soup. DO NOT BURN.
Meanwhile slowly boil about 2 litres of water in another pot.
Back to the onions, add the flour, only about two table spoons, to give them a nice consistency. Stir quickly else they will stick! Add the brandy and red wine – but only a tad bit – I won’t give you measurements, you would be able to decide when is enough. After a few minutes of stirring, though not too many, add the boiling water – again, try to do this slowly. That is your soup ready. Distrubute into bowls and then place two lawyers puff pastry on top with Gruyere cheese in the middle, this will act as a lid. Give it a little egg wash seal if you please. Bake this until the pastry is risen and serve. No bread needed – pastry should do. Garnish with parsley.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. Let me know how it goes!