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Perfect match: onion soup with cabernet franc

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for caramelised onion and Cantal soup.

By Alice Storey
  • Serves 6
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 25 mins cooking
Caramelised onion and Cantal soup
Caramelised onion and Cantal soup

This classic French dish is exactly the kind of hearty, warming fare you'd hope to find in an equally classic French bistro. There are plenty of red wines that fall into the classic bistro category - juicy, thirst-quenching young reds that also have enough substance and grip to help them stand up to the garlicky, rustic, cheesy food. Beaujolais springs to mind, and spicy syrah and grenache blends from the length of the Rhône Valley are also popular, but reds made from the cabernet franc grape, especially those from the Loire Valley, from appellations such as Chinon and Anjou, are all the rage in French bistro land at the moment, and it's not hard to see why. Cabernet franc tends to be juicier, lighter and more approachable than its sturdier offspring, cabernet sauvignon. There's quite a bit of cabernet franc grown in Australian vineyards, and although most of it is blended (usually with cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot or malbec - the classic red Bordeaux mix), some producers do bottle it as a single-varietal wine. A good cab franc is lovely with this soup: the black fruit liveliness matches the cheesy perfume and sweetness of the onions, and the cab franc's dusty, sometimes even herbal, streak works with the rye bread.

The flavours of caramelised onion and Cantal paired with a cabernet franc will transport you to France, writes Max Allen.

Ingredients

  • 60 gm butter, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1.5 litres (6 cups) vegetable stock
  • 6 slices day-old rye bread
  • 200 gm Cantal (see note), coarsely grated, plus extra to serve

Method

Main
  • 1
    Preheat oven to 180C. Heat butter and oil in a casserole over low heat until melted, add onion, cover, stir occasionally until tender (35-40 minutes), uncover, increase heat to medium and stir occasionally until caramelised (10-12 minutes). Add thyme and garlic, stir occasionally until tender (2-3 minutes). Add stock, bring to the simmer and set aside.
  • 2
    Layer bread and two-thirds of the cheese in a 6-litre ovenproof casserole, pour hot soup over, season to taste, cover and bake until golden and bubbling (20-25 minutes).
  • 3
    Preheat grill to high heat (see note). Scatter soup with remaining cheese and grill until cheese is bubbling and golden (4-5 minutes). Serve hot.

Notes

Note Cantal, a semi-hard cow's milk cheese from France's Auvergne region, is available from select delicatessens. If it's unavailable, substitute 100gm raclette and 100gm Gruyère. If you can't fit a casserole under your grill, preheat oven to 220C and bake soup uncovered until cheese is golden and bubbling. Drink suggestion by Max Allen