Caramelized Onion Soup with Baguette croutons

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Chef Select Nova Scotia
A French onion soup of sorts, but more than anything, this is comfort food at its best.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons (25ml) olive oil
2 tablespoons (25ml) butter
850 g (1 lb 140z) (about 4) onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon (5ml) sugar
5 cups (1.2 L) beef stock
1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
2 tablespoons (25ml) cognac or brandy
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Croutons:
1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 baguette, cut into 2cm (1/2”) diagonal slices
1 cup (200 g) gruyere cheese, grated
Chopped parsley, to serve

Heat the oil and butter together in a large sauce pan until very hot. Add the sliced onions, garlic and sugar and stir for about 5 minutes until they start to darken on the edges. Reduce the heat to very low and leave the onions to cook for a further 20 – 25 minutes, stirring very occasionally. The onions should caramelize and the base of the pan should have a dark film on it.  Add the hot stock and wine and bring to the boil, scraping the film off the base of the pan. When the soup comes to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for about 50 minutes. While the soup is simmering prepare the croutons. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Combine the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl and using a pastry brush, brush it evenly over both sides of the bread slices. Place them on a baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes or until they are golden and crispy (these can be made a day in advance and stored in an airtight container). Bring your soup back to boiling point before serving and add the cognac or brandy. Ladle the hot soup into bowls, top with croutons and sprinkle the grated cheese over everything. Preheat the broiler to high. Place soup bowls under the broiler until bubbling and golden. Sprinkle with a little chopped and serve immediately.
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