French onion soup

This classic soup is unusual because it introduces cheese at the beginning of the meal. Serve the soup in a large oven proof tureen or six individual oven proof bowls, each topped with an island of sizzling toasted cheese. Each person submerges his own cheese island under the soup as he eats it, pressing the bread against the bottom of the bowl with the edge of a soup spoon to cut it into bite-sized pieces. If you do not have time to make beef stock, you could use canned consomme. For an extra rich soup add 15ml [1 tablespoon] of brandy per serving. Stir in the brandy just before the end of cooking.

SERVES 6 - 350 g [¾ Ib] onions
- 75 g [3 oz] margarine
- 1 L [2 pt] well-flavoured beef stock
- bay leaf
- salt and pepper
- 6 thick slices of French bread
- 100 g [¼ Ib] Emmenthal cheese
- 30 ml [2 tablespoons] Parmesan cheese

1 Skin and finely chop the onions.

onion.jpg" align="left" alt="french-onion" title="french-onion"> 2 Melt the margarine in a heavy based pan. Add the onions and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned.

3 Add the stock and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Cover pan and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

4 Grate the Emmenthal cheese, put it in a bowl, add the Parmesan cheese and mix the two together.

5 Heat the grill and heat the oven to 200øC [400øF] gas mark 6.

6 Toast the bread lightly on each side.

7 Remove the bay leaf and pour the soup into an oven proof soup tureen or six individual bowls.

8 Cover each slice of bread with cheese and float the bread on top of the soup. .

9 Carefully put the soup tureen or bowls into the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and sizzling.

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