2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 cup butter
3 large onions, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
3/4 cup white wine
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tbsp brandy
5 fresh sprigs thyme, leaves picked, plus more for
4 cups beef stock
2 round bread boules
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 slices gruyere cheese
In a saucepan over a medium to high heat, add the oil, butter, and onions. Stir together and turn to low heat, covering with a lid or a cartouche. Cook very slowly for 30 minutes, until onions are completely softened and sweet.
Next, turn back to medium to high heat and cook until the onions are golden-brown. Stir occasionally so nothing catches on the bottom. Make sure to caramelize the onions to a deep golden color, as it will impart flavor to the soup.
Add the garlic and cook for a minute, followed by white wine and cook until the liquid has reduced slightly.
Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the brandy and thyme, pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Stir together and reduce the heat slightly. Cook gently for about 30 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Slice the top off the bread boule and hollow out the center, leaving a 1-inch wall to stop any leakages. Drizzle the whole bowl with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Lay the gruyere slices around the rim of the bowl, upturn the ‘lid’ of the bowl, then drizzle with olive oil and lay gruyere on top.
Place in oven for 3 to 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
Next, turn the oven to broil.
Ladle the soup into the bread bowls and lay 2 more gruyere slices on top of the soup.
Broil until the cheese has melted and golden brown on top.
Serve immediately with a good grinding of black pepper and extra thyme.