It is the time of year for soups. The bags of brown onions at market gave me an idea, and I was sold when I found a lovely big bag of beef bones at Gilmore Braes. This is a very simple recipe but the key is time. Give each stage of this dish the time it deserves. Roast the beef bones before simmering them slowly to make a rich, dark stock. Be patient and cook the onions slowly, allowing the sugars to develop and caramelise. I love to serve my French Onion Soup with cheesy toasts, rather than with the traditional gratin.
Spread the beef bones on a baking tray and roast at 200oC for 30 minutes or until dark brown. Discard any excess fat and place bones in a large stock pot. Top and tail the onions. Reserve the onion flesh. Place the skins, tops and tails in the stock pot with the remaining vegetables, herbs and spices into stock pot. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Discard any scum from the surface and simmer for at least 2 hours. The onion skins and roasted beef bones should make the stock turn a lovely dark brown colour. If you want to make the stock in advance, at this point, drain the stock and refrigerate, removing surface fat when solidified.
Slice the flesh of the onions. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and gently cook, stirring occasionally so the onion softens and turns a light brown colour. This may take 45 minutes. Do not rush the process. Add the strained beef stock and simmer to allow the flavours to meld. At this point, set aside however many serves won’t be eaten this time around. Refrigerate and remove any surface fat before heating and serving. Otherwise, prepare the cheese toasts.
To prepare the cheese toasts, take the slices of bread and grill till toasted on one side. Grate both the cheeses. Turn the bread over and generously apply the grated cheeses to each piece. Grill till golden and bubbling.
Serve a bowl of piping hot soup with a slice of cheesy toast. Enjoy.