Raymond Blanc’s French Onion Soup

From Raymond Blanc, French onion soup is a classic French dish. The simple soup recipe blends caramelised onions with oozing, melted Gruyère cheese on top.

Simple French Cookery
From the book Simple French Cookery
By
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Introduction

The humble onion is very much part of the French culinary anthology. It was probably also responsible for the second invasion of England by the French. I still remember when I first came to England, seeing Frenchmen riding very drunkenly on bicycles, loaded with magnificent entwined onions.

The quality of the onions is crucial in this recipe. We want both high acidity and high sugar levels to create a fully flavoured soup. The best onions are Pink Roscoff; Spanish onions, although lacking in acidity, will also work. If you like a strong onion flavour, caramelize the onions for a further 15 minutes, until very dark brown.

Serves 4
Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 50 min
Total time: 1 h 15 min

Ingredients

For the soup:
50g (2oz) unsalted butter, diced
4 medium Roscoff or Spanish onions, cut in half and then sliced 3mm (⅛in) thick
1 heaped tbsp plain flour
200ml (7fl oz) dry white wine, boiled for 30 seconds to remove the alcohol
1.5l (2½ pints) boiling water
1 tsp sugar (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve:
12 slices of baguette, cut 1cm (½in) thick
150g (5oz) Gruyère cheese, grated

Instructions

Softening the onions:
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/ Gas Mark 6. On a high heat, in a large non-stick saucepan, melt the butter without letting it brown. Add the onions and soften for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with 10 pinches of salt and 2 pinches of pepper.

Caramelizing the onions:
Continue cooking the onions for 20-30 minutes to achieve an even, rich brown caramel colour. Stir every 2-3 minutes to prevent burning.

Toasting the flour:
Sprinkle the flour on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until it is very lightly coloured. Stir the flour into the caramelized onions and mix thoroughly.

Finishing the soup:
Gradually stir in the white wine and one third of the boiling water. Whisk well and add the remaining water. Bring to the boil, skim off any impurities from the surface and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning, adding the sugar if required.

Making the croûtons and serving the soup:
Arrange the baguette slices on a baking tray and sprinkle two thirds of the grated Gruyère over them. Place under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes to melt and slightly brown the cheese. Serve the soup in bowls, with the croûtons on top. Serve the remaining Gruyère separately.

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