French Onion Soup

I’ve tried this one a few times and I’m not afraid to say that it’s definitely a winner. This is my favourite sort of recipe – a few simple ingredients, coming together to create a gem of a dish.This is great for dinner parties – as a neat little starter, or simply a comfort meal for one!

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This recipe serves around 4 people, but feel free to scale up/down portion sizes depending on who you are feeding – I’d say this would be great as a starter for 6 trim ladies, or a main for 2 *very* hungry boys.

You’ll need:
3/4 large white onions
cubes of butter (cut an inch-thick slice from your butter stick if you’re feeling naughty)
2 pints of stock
1 large glass of wine
splash of cheap Brandy
Gruyere cheese
Baguette
Seasoning
3 cloves of garlic

Now chop your onions in half and then into long segments. No dicing please – as we want to maximise the onion flavour without them disintegrating. It might be an idea to chop your garlic too – again, don’t be too fussy with the chopping, as we’re going to be cooking this for a while.

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Plonk in the butter and allow it to get a little melty before adding your onions and garlic. Turn the heat riiiiight down and allow to cook ‘long-time’ – you want to allow the onions to get really sticky, unctuous and translucent.

This might take a while – up to 45 minutes – and don’t forget to stir!

In the meantime, you could pretend to be French.

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This, of course, is entirely optional.

Now for that wine. Slosh in a generous glass whilst you turn up the heat to simmer the alcohol off. I’ve used a sweet, dry white called Voigner, but a cheap Pinot will suffice.

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… Don’t be afraid to pour yourself a glass too!

After around 5 minutes, splash a little brandy in too and then allow to simmer on a lower heat for another 5-8 minutes or so. You need the flavour of the plonk without the acrid alcohol taste.

Rip up half of the baguette into small pieces and plop into the soup, along with some crumbled cheese (and some thickening granules if you chickened out and added a little water half way through. It’s fine – you don’t trust me! I did the same thing myself when I first cooked it.

Wait until the baguette pieces are almost, almost melting into the soup and take off the heat.

You could serve this then and there, but then what’s the fun in that? Now for the naughty pièce de résistance – a grilled, cheesey, crouton topping.

Chop thin slices of baguette and place on top of your serving of soup, and smother in your Gruyere cheese.

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Remove from the grill only when the cheese is bubbling, browning and melty.

Dig in and whimper with pleasure. And thank me later.

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Instagram holiday

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Remember that surf holiday I told you about? Here are some lovely photos!

1 – Making home-made trifle for a Jubilee feast! | 2 – Star, the hostel’s dog – and my new best friend | 3 – My fave beach for surfing | 4 – A delicious lunch of grilled squid and prawn | 5 – The world’s HUGEST burger EVER – the perfect antidote for surf fatigue | 6 – Me with my feet dangling out of the kayak (I later regretted this, see photo 14) | 7 – A shot of the river I went kayaking down | 8 & 9 – Star again | 10 – Grilled squid with veggies | 11 – The Paintshop barbeque | 12 – I stayed at a hostel called The Paintshop – this is the veranda | 13 – A glass of my new favourite wine, Vino Verde | 14 – My sun-burnt legs in the mid-week post-kayak! | 15 – My first glimpse of the sea | 16 – Going for a wee paddle! I distinctly remember getting soaked by a rogue wave | 17 – Postcards home (that predictably I never sent…) | 18 – A gorgeous little antiques market in the square where I bought some cute earrings | 19 – The walk down to the beach was positively idyllic | 20 – Saying goodbye on the fast-train back home

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