This classic soup is always a winner as a hearty lunch or supper dish. It freezes really well, too.
2 tbsp olive oil
1kg/2lb 4oz white onions, finely sliced
2 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
50ml/2fl oz dry sherry
250ml/9fl oz white wine
2 tbsp plain flour
1.2 litres/2 pints fresh veal or beef stock
1 tsp soft brown sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices baguette, cut thickly on the diagonal
110g/4oz Gruyère, grated
Heat a large pan until hot, add the butter, olive oil, onions and thyme and fry for 20-25 minutes over a medium-low heat, or until softened and golden-brown.
Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes then add the sherry and white wine and cook until the volume of the liquid has reduced by half.
Stir in the flour, cook for one minute then pour in the stock. Bring to a simmer then cook gently for 10-15 minutes and season with the sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
For the croutons, preheat the grill to its highest setting. Place the bread onto a grill tray and toast lightly until golden brown on each side then add the cheese and return to the grill until bubbling and golden brown.
To serve, ladle the soup into warmed bowls and top with a cheesy crouton.
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