Traditionally, French onion soup is served with melted Gruyère
croutons. For a change, we sieve the soup and serve it as a broth
with a wedge of fresh sourdough bread and butter. We’ve also gone
for a little sake to cut through the sweet onions.
Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat
and add the onions. Soften very slowly for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring
occasionally, until golden in colour and beginning to caramelise.
Add half the sugar to help the onions caramelise further for another
10 minutes or so. You can increase the heat a little at this stage.
Stir in the flour and half the sake, scraping any bits off the bottom of
the pan. Stir in the rest of the sake and the beef stock. Tie the thyme
and bay leaves together with string and add them to the pan. Bring
to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about
1 hour. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Strain the onion broth and set aside the onions. Heat a small frying
pan, add the onions and the remaining sugar and cook for 10–15
minutes until they form a chutney-like consistency. Warm the onion
broth and serve with sourdough bread and the onions on the side.