French onion soup with mini gruyère toasties

French onion soup with mini gruyère toasties

Three Sisters Bake
Helen Cathcart

After years of enjoying this soup in the French Alps, I was taught to make it by a French chef at the Edinburgh School of Food and Wine. As he poured two glasses of wine, followed by two shots of brandy, into the pot, I realised why skiing always seemed easier in the afternoons. - Linsey


Quantity Ingredient
25g salted butter
6 white onions, sliced very thinly by hand, (or using a mandoline/food processor
4 garlic cloves, sliced very thinly by hand (or using a mandoline/food processor)
350ml red wine
850ml hot fresh beef stock
30ml brandy
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the mini gruyère toasties

Quantity Ingredient
2 slices white bread
a knob butter, for frying (and extra for spreading)
50g gruyere cheese, thickly sliced
4 cocktail sticks or small wooden skewers, to serve


  1. Heat the butter in a large heavy-based pan on a medium heat, until melted and bubbling. Add the onions and sauté for at least 20 minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently. You want them to become a deep-brown colour without burning. Add the garlic and continue to stir for a further 3 minutes.
  2. Add the wine, hot stock, brandy and vinegar and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.
  3. Meanwhile, for the toasties, butter one side of each slice of bread. Place the gruyère cheese slices on the non-buttered side of one of the slices. Make a sandwich by placing the other non-buttered side on top of the cheese, leaving two buttered sides of bread facing out.
  4. Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan on a medium-high heat. Fry the gruyère sandwich for about 5 minutes until the underside is golden brown. Flip over and fry the other side.
  5. If the cheese has not melted, turn the heat down and continue to fry until the cheese starts to ooze out of the sandwich (but be careful not to burn the bread). Add more butter to the pan if required.
  6. Cut the gruyère toastie into quarters and spear each quarter with a cocktail stick or wooden skewer (cocktail sticks work well if you’re serving the soup in teacups; use skewers if you are serving in a soup bowl).
  7. Remove the soup from the heat, season to taste and ladle into heatproof bowls or teacups, depending on the occasion. Place the gruyère toastie on top of the bowl or teacup and serve.
Three Sisters Bake
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