It has turned really cold here now so soup is what I want for lunch every day and this is one of our favourites. I have actually managed to get the “caramelising onions” time down from the usual 90 minutes in most recipes to a much more realistic 30 minutes. I am always too hungry to wait that long and this way works perfectly for me.
Peeling and chopping onions is not the nicest of jobs but I have found that cutting off the root end of an onion and putting it on your head like a little hat stops you from crying so much. It looks really stupid and the top of your head smells of onion but much less mascara wastage I find. This tip was given to me by The Washer Up’s nephew Callum and it actually works. I think he spent a day of child slave labour in a Spanish kitchen peeling onions and that is what he learnt.
I should really call this Spanish Onion Soup as the only thing that is French about it is the Gruyère cheese on the crouton. That can easily be replaced by a nice mature Manchego which is what we normally do to be honest. The onions are local, organic, Spanish onions, the olive oil is local too and the sherry I use to deglaze the pan is as Spanish as you can get.
Serves 4-6 Vegetarian/Vegan without the cheese
- 1 1/2 k onions, peeled & finely sliced into half moons
- 2 0r 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 4 Tbsp sweet sherry
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1500 ml veg stock &/or water (I use 1 litre stock 1/2 litre water)
- salt & black pepper
- 1 Tbsp (vegetarian) Worcestershire sauce
- baguette sliced
- olive oil, salt & pepper
- grated Gruyère (or manchego) cheese
Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large pot. Add the onions, salt, sugar & bay leaves, stir to coat the onions in the oil, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes until softened.
Remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes, scraping the bottom to remove the brown bits until the onions are a deep dark golden brown colour.
Then add the flour, sherry and thyme. Scrape the bottom of the pan again to remove all the caramelised sweet bits and cook the sherry for a few minutes. Add the stock and water, season with salt & pepper, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, taste and adjust the seasoning. Does it need more salt, more sugar or even more Worcestershire sauce?
Brush the baguette slices with olive oil, season with a little salt & pepper and toast under a hot grill until lightly browned. Top with a generous handful of grated cheese, a little thyme and put back under the grill to melt and brown slightly. If you have ovenproof soup dishes you could put the croutons topped with grated cheese directly in the soup, add another handful of cheese and put the whole lot back under the grill.
The Washer Up would not be impressed with that though, it makes a right mess of the bowls so we go for the safer option…
Serve the soup in warmed bowls with the melted cheesey croutons on top.
Enjoy and Stay Warm!