French onion soup
( SERVES 4 )
The rules for a great French onion soup are simple. Firstly, the onions must be cooked slowly to a rich amber colour. Secondly, the soup should be thick with those onions: they should pile high on your spoon yet drip languidly off it. Lastly, the bread needs to be toasted on one side only, to allow the untoasted side to absorb the soup; it should completely cover the surface of the soup, not just float on it, and the cheese should cover the bread like a blanket, so it melts thickly under the grill.
- Peel the onions, cut them in half and slice them as thinly as you can. Heat the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onions and bay leaves, and cook slowly over a medium heat until they are a rich, golden brown colour, about 30 minutes. Stir in the white wine and brandy and simmer for 2-3 minutes, then pour in the stock and worcestershire sauce. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for a further 30 minutes. The soup should be thick with onion and light on liquid. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if required.
- Toast the slices of baguette on one side under the grill. Divide the soup into ovenproof dishes and place the slices of baguette on top, covering the entire surface of the soup. Cover with cheese and place the under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese has melted and is golden brown.