Starter: serves 4-6. Total time: 50 minutes.
This is in the vichyssoise league of heavyweight creamed soups. You needn't go the whole hog with the creme fraiche, just add as much as you want. There again, like vichyssoise, it is not a soup for slurping from a bottomless bowl, much better to relish its richness with restraint. Garnish at your whim, though I think even croutons detract from its texture - some bread on the side might be a better route.

70 g unsalted butter
1 kg white onions, peeled, halved and sliced
3 sprigs of thyme
Sea salt
150 ml white wine
700 ml chicken stock
200 ml creme fraiche
freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the onions and thyme, sprinkle over a heaped teaspoon of the sea salt and sweat them for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent them colouring. By the end they should be lusciously silky and soft.

Pour over the white wine, turn the heat up a little and simmer until it is well-reduced. Add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes. Remove the thyme stalks, and puree the soup with the creme fraiche and a grinding or two of black pepper. Taste to check the seasoning. Return to a clean saucepan and gently reheat. Serve in warmed soup bowls.