A delicious and warming French onion soup in 60 minutes.
This takes about 60 minutes. I know, because I timed it, because I disagreed with someone’s time-consuming method of onion soup preparation (http://blog.gauweiler.net/2011/10/14/french-onion-soup/).
Peel one large yellow onion a person, then cut into semi-circle or quarter-circle rings, 3mm thin. For every two portions, add a small red onion, peeled and cut in the same manner. Peel and crush one small clove of garlic each portion. (10 minutes)
Get a deep pan with a good amount of olive oil on high heat. Sweat the onions, then add crushed black pepper (1/2 teaspoon each portion), crushed allspice (1/4 teaspoon a person) and one crushed juniper berry each portion. Add two rashers of streaky bacon or smoked belly of pork (unless restricted by vegetarianism), add one bay leave for every two portions. Turn the heat down to moderate.
Close the lid for 10 minutes. This produces steam to cook the onions, so try to keep the lid closed. Then, open the lid, and caramelize the onions, stirring occasionally.
(You may now add a pinch of sugar if your onions are too sharp or just not the golden, sweet variety.)
Grate some Gruyere cheese, and make some chunky white bread croutons while the onions are working for you. I prefer using croutons over fresh bread. Fresh bread turns into a slimy mess, and I can spice the croutons with garlic and chili.
The onions should caramelize within 20 minutes. Set the croutons aside.
Dust the onions with a spoonful of white wheat flour, stir, then add liquid. Cold water is a good way to start, about 350ml per portion, but you could also use stock. Once you’ve got it back boiling, season to taste with salt, black pepper, allspice, a hint of nutmeg. Stir and let simmer for 15 minutes, tasting and seasoning as you go along.
Turn the grill on, discard the bay leaves, juniper berries, chilies and bacon rashers, if any, and dish the soup out into portion-sized, heat-proof soup bowls.
Sprinkle croutons on top of each bowl and top with cheese. Go easy on the cheese; you’re making soup, not pizza. Moderate application of cheese also enables your diners to eat the soup with a spoon but without making a mess.
Put under the grill for 5min (cheese bubbling and turning golden, occasional brown spots), and serve with a crisp white wine.
Done in 60 minutes, less for a small amount, and thoroughly enjoyable.