I recently picked up a bag of beef bones and made a beautiful stock with them. When I began planning the food for a camping trip to the Tumut Festival of the Falling Leaf, I knew I wanted to take some rich French onion soup along. I think it’s incredible what wonders can be made from a few simple ingredients treated kindly. I made the soup well in advance and froze it so it would also act as an ice brick in our esky. We heated it on the stove and served it with some cheese bread toasted over the fire to soak up the rich deliciousness.
This recipe makes more beef stock than you require for the soup. Freeze the remainder, or use it for beef consommé.
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Place the beef bones and garlic cloves in a large baking dish. Bake at 200oC for 30 minutes, or till dark brown all over, turning the bones once or twice during the cooking. Place the bones and garlic cloves in a stock pot with the onions (including their skins), celery, turnips, parsley stalks, bay leaves and peppercorns. Cover with water and bring the pan to the boil. Simmer for 3-4 hours and turn off the heat. Allow the stock to cool completely. Remove the cooled fat from the surface of the pan and strain stock, discarding any vegetables and bones you don’t want for another purpose. Refrigerate or freeze any excess stock.
Top and tale the onions, cut them in half and slice them. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onions. Cook the onions, covered, on low heat for about two hours, stirring occasionally. Do not rush this process. The slower you do this the better. They will melt down to virtually nothing and eventually turn the colour of caramel. At that point, add the brandy and evaporate a little. Add the beef stock and return to the boil.
Serve with cheese toast.