I can’t pretend that the weather here has been as bad as it is in Northern USA at the moment – but it is still chilly, dark and miserable as it will undoubtably remain until April. And as such, it is another soup night tonight; this time my take on a classic, and one of my all time favourites.
Usually, a French Onion Soup contains onions, beef stock, wine and very little else. This is my version, and so it includes ingredients that a typical French Onion Soup usually wouldn’t – like bay leaves, and thyme. I also used vegetable stock rather than beef stock (and brandy rather than white wine) – not only does this make it vegetarian, it also makes it lighter and fresher. I really enjoy this version, and I hope you will too.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore the original version, but I think it tastes better when the onions are cooked for a long, long time – and I don’t have time for that tonight. I’ve used comte (a hard, French cow’s milk cheese) on the croutons as a nod to where the original came from; however any hard cheese such as gouda would work equally well. With French Onion Soup, you also tend to put the croutons in the soup, but I prefer them nice and crispy so I leave them on the side.
This will take about 40 minutes, and will serve 4. The leftovers get better with time, so make great lunches!
English Onion Soup with Comte Croutons
3 large onions
2 bay leaves
1 pinch thyme leaves
10g plain flour
1 small glass brandy
750ml vegetable stock
4 large slices French baguette
1 tbsp olive oil
40g grated comte
1. Finely slice the onions and add to a large saucepan with the butter, bay leaves, thyme and a pinch of salt. Cook over a medium-low heat, stirring every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t stick, for about 20-25 minutes until golden.
2. Add the flour, mix well, then add the brandy and bubble down. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Taste, and add more seasoning if necessary.
3. For the croutons, put the grill on high, the drizzle the olive oil onto a baking tray, then rub the bread in the oil to ensure an even coating. Put under the grill for 3-4 minutes until beginning to turn toast, then pile on the grated cheese. Put back under the grill and cook until the cheese is bubbling and golden.