French Onion Soup
This is a great meal to make when there’s nothing much left in the fridge. Cheesy croutons don’t need to be omitted just because you’re cutting back. You can use any hard, full-flavoured cheese instead of the Gruyére but I think its nuttiness compliments the richness of the onions particularly well.
- 2tsp sunflower oil
- 6 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 1tbsp fresh thyme leaves, plus extra to garnish
- 2tbsp plain flour
- 1.5 litres hot beef stock (made with 2 stock cubes)
- 12 thin slices of baguette (about 15g per slice), cut diagonally
- 50g Gruyere cheese, finely grated
- flaked sea salt
- ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan or flameproof casserole dish. Add the onions, cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 20–25 minutes or until the onions are very soft, stirring occasionally.
Remove the lid, increase the heat and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the onions have turned a rich golden brown colour, stirring frequently and making sure that they do not burn. Reduce the heat and stir in the thyme leaves and flour.
Pour the stock slowly over the onions, stirring constantly and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until the soup thickens slightly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm over a low heat.
Heat the grill to the hottest setting. Place the baguette slices on a baking tray and toast close to the grill for 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned.
Remove from under the grill and sprinkle a little of the grated cheese on each slice of bread. Return to the grill and cook until the cheese melts and is begins to brown.
Ladle the hot soup into warm, deep bowls and top each one with 2 pieces of the cheesy toast. Sprinkle with tiny sprigs of thyme just before serving. Calories per serving: 188.
Freeze the cooled soup by dividing into freezer-proof containers. Cover tightly and freeze for up to 3 months.
Freeze the croutons by toasting the bread and topping with the cheese, but do not grill again. Open freeze the toast until solid and stack in a freezer-proof container interleaving with baking parchment.
Warm the soup through gently in a large saucepan until thawed then simmer until piping hot, stirring regularly.
Grill the croutons from frozen, not too close to the heat, for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the bread is piping hot.