Light French Onion Soup

The classic French onion soup is dark with heavily caramelised onions and is often supplemented with red wine and thickened with flour. This is a lighter modern version.
Serves 4 (recipe doubles or halves and freezes well)
25g butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 medium onions, peeled and finely sliced
6 stems of thyme, leaves only
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Demerara sugar
600ml vegetable/chicken stock (or 500ml water and 100ml dry white wine)
4 slices of baguette, toasted
Grated Gruyere or Comté
1.  Add the butter and oil to a heavy saucepan. Heat gently until the butter just begins to sizzle.
 2. Add the onions and toss them in the butter and oil. Add the thyme and bay leaf, a good pinch of salt and few grindings of black pepper. Gently cook the onions for up to 20 minutes, keeping the pan at the lowest temperature and checking it every 5-10 minutes to start with and more frequently as the onions reduce. It is important they don’t burn or catch at the end of the pan – use a wooden spoon to remove any of the brown bits from the pan so they don’t burn once the onions have reduced.
3. When the onions are lightly caramelised, sprinkle on the Demerera sugar and stir. Cook over a gentle heat for another 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Add the stock (or water and wine) and stir well to remove the fond or sticky bits on the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for up to 30 minutes or until the soup is well-flavoured. Remove the bay leaf and check and adjust the seasoning. Serve the soup in deep bowls topped with slices of toasted baguette topped with grated Gruyere or Comté.

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