French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup is a delicious soup. It does take a fair amount of elapsed time because the onions can take 90 minutes plus to cook and then it simmers for about an hour once all the ingredients are in. Good to do if you are in the kitchen for something else anyway as the onions need occasional stirring.
Another tip of the hat to Felicity Cloake.
Depending on the cider or wine used the flavour can be more or less acidic. You might find that some wines will give an acidic edge and you would reduce or omit the vinegar.


  • 80g butter, plus a little extra for the toasts
  • 4 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 3 sprigs thyme, just the leaves
  • A bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (vary this depending on the acidity of the wine/cider)
  • 400ml medium cider (or white wine)
  • 600ml good-quality beef stock
  • Dash of calvados or other brandy (optional)
  • 8 slices of baguette
  • 1 clove of garlic, halved
  • 100g Gruyère, grated


  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over a low heat. Add the onions, season and cook, stirring regularly, until caramelised and deep brown. (Once they’ve softened, you can turn up the heat a little, but keep an eye on them.) This will probably take about 90 minutes.
  2. Stir in the flour and thyme and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring the flour in, then add the vinegar and a third of the cider, stirring and scraping all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the rest of the cider and the stock, and bring to the boil. Add the bay leaf. Simmer for about an hour. Meanwhile, heat the grill and rub the baguette slices with the cut side of the garlic clove. Brush with melted butter, and toast on both sides.
  3. Add the brandy to the soup and check the seasoning.
  4. To serve, ladle into ovenproof dishes and top with 2 croutons and a mound of cheese. Grill until golden, then serve immediately.

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