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Recipe: Natalie Brea Van Apeldoorn's French Onion Soup

This rich family recipe from Natalie Brea Van Apeldoorn was one of the winners of Jacob's Creek Reserve Table Cooking Contest. The warmth and zest of the recipe certainly captured her personality.

Servings: 6

Ready time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Wine pairings:

Consider an aromatic, dry Alsatian white, such as gewurztraminer, riesling or pinot gris, their musky opulence found so often in the company of the region’s caramelized-onion tart. A wee nip of Amontillado sherry would not be out of place, either. If you can handle all the liquid of soup and beer together, try something rich and malty, such as a Belgian dubbel (Chimay Red, for example). - Beppi Crosariol

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter

3 large sweet onions, sliced

2-3 leeks, sliced, white part only, rinsed

1 tsp sugar

Lemon pepper

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

8 cups homemade veal stock or 3 tins consommé with 3 tins water

1/2 cup drinkable red wine

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Croutons and finishing touches

2 tbsp butter, softened

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp grated garlic

6 slices of French bread

1 tsp grated lemon zest

2 cups grated mozzarella

3/4 cup grated Emmental

3/4 cup grated Gruyère

Method

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until it begins to brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Add onions, leeks and sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Season liberally with lemon pepper. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add stock and red wine and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes to combine the flavours.

Preheat broiler. Mix butter with olive oil and garlic in a small bowl. Spread butter mixture onto each side of the bread. Toast the bread in a pan over high heat or broil each side in the oven.

Divide soup into six oven-safe soup bowls and place on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle lemon zest into each bowl and top with the toasted bread. Combine grated cheese in a medium bowl. Cover toast with grated cheese. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.

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