French onion soup is probably the best known and loved of all French soups.


Serves 6

French onion soup is probably the best known and loved of all French soups. It was a favourite for breakfast in the cafes beside the old markets at Les Halles in Paris and is still a favourite on bistro menus at Rungis market.

In France this soup is served in special white porcelain tureens. Gruyere is the cheese traditionally used for the toast to serve with the soup but a good sharp cheddar will make an excellent substitute. The soup will keep for a couple of days in the fridge and freezes really well.

1.35kg onions
50g butter
4 branches of thyme tied together with cotton string
1.7Litre chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

To Finish
6 slices of baguette, cut1cm thick and toasted
75g grated Gruyère cheese

Peel the onions and slice thinly. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion, thyme branches and toss well. Cook on a low heat for about 40-60 minutes with the lid off, stirring frequently - the onions should be dark and well caramelised but not burnt.

Add the stock, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, bring to the boil and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning.

Ladle the very hot soup into deep and hot soup bowls. Place a piece of toasted baguette generously covered with grated cheese on top of each one. Pop under the grill until the cheese melts and turns golden. Serve immediately but beware - it will be very hot.