French onion soup

Ingredients to serve 4

For the beef stock

2kg beef bones (I use knuckle)
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 onion, halved
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
A handful of fresh thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 juniper berries

For the soup

125g butter
800g onions, finely sliced
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
Half a teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Marmite or yeast extract
30ml cooking brandy
Sea salt and reshly ground black pepper

For the croûtons

8 slices of baguette, 2cm thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons grainy Dijon mustard
150g Emmental cheese
50g Parmesan

For the stock, preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Place the beef bones on a roasting tray in the oven for 1 hour or until they are browned, but not burnt. Transfer them to a large saucepan with a matching lid. Add the roughly chopped vegetables along with the herbs and spices. Cover with water and bring to the boil on a high heat. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 1–2 hours. Leave to cool slightly before draining through a sieve.

Melt the butter in a large pan over a moderate heat. When it has melted, add the onions. Coat them in the melted butter and let them sizzle away for 15 minutes. They will first become translucent then sticky and brown. This is where you get the deep, delicious sweet flavours. Continue to brown, but not burn, turning often. Sprinkle in some plain flour and coat the onions. Pour in 1.5 litres beef stock and bring to a simmer. Add the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and Marmite and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Add the brandy and seasoning. Remove from the heat.

To make the croûtons, preheat the grill to high and heat a non-stick frying pan on a high heat. Brush the slices of bread with olive oil and place them in the pan. When they are really crisp and golden on both sides, remove them from the pan and brush the tops with a little mustard. Float the croûtons, mustard-side up, on the surface of the soup and grate over the cheeses. Place the saucepan under the grill for long enough to melt the cheese so that it is bubbling at the edges. Ladle into bowls, making sure each has at least one croûton.

Taken from 'Supper With Rosie' by Rosie Lovell (Kyle Books, £16.99).

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