1.1 kg / 2½ lbs white onions, peeled and sliced thinly
1 bunch fresh thyme leaves
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 bay leaf
50g / 2oz butter
30 - 50ml brandy
1.3 litres / 2½ pints beef, or veal stock (good flavoursome stock)
Sea salt and pepper
½ ciabatta loaf
100g / 4oz gruyère cheese, grated
- In a heavy based saucepan slowly fry off all the finely sliced onions, garlic, bay leaf and thyme with the butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Place a lid on and slowly cook (not colouring yet) for about 15 mins over a low heat – the slower the better.
- Remove the lid and turn up the heat and start to colour the onions until they are brown. Be careful not to let them burn. Keep stirring all the time. Deglaze with 30 - 50ml brandy. Cook for further 2 minutes (optional).
- Add the stock and simmer for 20-30 mins. Check the seasoning.
- Cut the bread crossways into slices. Drizzle with olive oil and lightly crisp up on a baking tray in an oven for 4 mins. Next scatter a generous amount of gruyère over each slice of bread and place in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbling (or place under the grill to melt the cheese).
- Serve the soup in a bowl with a gruyère crouton drifting in the centre.