French Onion Soup with Comte Toasts

Cooking time
Serves4 people
French Onion Soup with Comte Toasts

The humble onion is the champion of this famous French soup. The onions are cooked slowly with garlic and thyme till soft and golden, then simmered with chicken stock. To finish the soup off each bowl is topped with a crunchy slice of toast smothered in melted comte cheese. Hearty yet sophisticated, it's the perfect warming winter meal.

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  • 2kg onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • A handful of thyme, leaves only
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • A glass of dry white wine
  • 1 ltr hot chicken stock
  • 4 slices of sourdough, plus extra to serve
  • 200g comte cheese

Prep: 20 mins | Cook: 1 hr 30 mins

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1. Peel and thinly slice the onions. You can speed this process up by using the slicing attachment on a food processor. Peel and thinly slice the garlic cloves. Pick and roughly chop the thyme leaves.
2. Melt 50g butter in a large pan and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Warm the pan to a medium-low heat and slide in the sliced onions, garlic and thyme. Sprinkle with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the onions for 20 mins, stirring occasionally, till the onions begin to soften.
3. Sprinkle 1 tbsp sugar into the onions and stir well. Continue to cook the onions for a further 30-40 mins, stirring occasionally, till the onions have reduced in volume and are very soft and a deep brown colour. Slowly caramelising the onions is key to getting a rich, sweet flavour - don't try to cook them too quickly or they will scorch and crisp up.
4. Pour 1 glass of white wine into the pan and turn the heat up to high. Bring the wine to the boil, then bubble and reduce for 2-3 mins. Pour in 1 ltr hot chicken stock, or enough to just cover the soft onions, and return to the boil. When the soup is boiling, pop a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 mins.
5. Lightly toast the slices of bread in a toaster or under the grill. Meanwhile, warm your oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Coarsley grate the comte cheese. When the soup is cooked, ladle it ovenproof bowls arranged on a baking tray. Place a slice of toast on top of each soup and cover with the grated cheese. Sprinkle with a little more pepper and slide the soup bowls into the oven. Bake for 10-15 mins, till the cheese is melted and the soup is bubbling. Serve the soup with more bread on the side, remembering that the bowls will be hot.
6. Top Toasties If you don't have ovenproof bowls to bake the soup in (or you don't want to serve the soup in hot bowls), lightly toast the slices of bread then place them on a baking tray. Sprinkle over the cheese, seaon with a little pepper and bake for 10-15 mins till the cheese is golden and melted. Meanwhile, keep the soup simmering on the hob. When the comte toasts are ready, ladle the soup into warm bowls and float a slice of comte toast in each bowl. Serve straight away.
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I enjoy Sam Richards' recipes and never had a problem before but you might want to check the quantities for this one: 2Kg of onions for 1 L of stoke for 4 people, that was a enormous pot of onions!!!