French Onion Soup

We’re not very happy with the onions we’ve been buying in lately. They’re the only organic onions we can get and it’s been a long time since the last onion harvest so we will hope for new season onions soon. While we wait, we’ve got lots of onions at the moment so we’ve been making French Onion Soup. It’s a bit of an effort chopping all those onions – though you could do that in a food processor – but the rest of it is pretty easy and the results are divine!


  • 1½ lb (700 g) onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 oz (50 g) butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ level teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 pints (1.2 litres) good beef or vegetable stock
  • 10 fl oz (275 ml) dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • For the croutons:
  • French bread or baguettine, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) diagonal slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • To serve:
  • 6 large or 12 small croutons (see above)
  • 8 oz (225 g) Gruyère, grated (or just use cheddar)


Place the saucepan on a high heat and melt the oil and butter together. When this is very hot, add the onions, garlic and sugar, turning them from time to time until the edges of the onions have turned dark – this will take about 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and leave the onions to cook very slowly for about 30 minutes until the base of the pan is deep brown. After that, pour in the stock and wine, season, then stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the base of the pan.

As soon as it all comes up to simmering point, turn down the heat to its lowest setting, then leave it to cook very gently, without a lid, for about 1 hour. All this can be done in advance but, when you’re ready to serve the soup, bring it back up to simmering point, taste to check for seasoning – and if it’s extra-cold outside, add a couple of tablespoons of Cognac!

Now make the croutons – drizzle the olive oil on to a large, solid baking-sheet, add the crushed garlic, then, using your hands, spread the oil and garlic all over the baking sheet. Place the bread slices on top of the oil, then turn over each one so that both sides have been lightly coated with the oil. Bake them in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 180C until crispy and crunchy.

Warm soup bowls in a low oven and pre-heat the grill to its highest setting. Ladle in the hot soup and top with the croutons. Now sprinkle the grated Gruyère thickly over the croutons and place the whole lot under the grill until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling. Serve immediately – and don’t forget to warn your guests that everything is very hot!

Adapted from