Makes 4-6 servings
This soup is topped with melted gruyère-covered toasts, which allows more onion flavour to come through.
1⁄4 cup (60 mL) unsalted butter
1 tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil
2 large Spanish onions, peeled, thinly sliced
4 medium shallots, peeled, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
1⁄4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
1 cup (250 mL) dry white wine
10 cups (2.4 L) chicken or vegetable stock
3 branches fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1⁄4 cup (60 mL) brandy (or dry sherry or port)
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup (60 mL) cornstarch
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
1 leek, trimmed, rinsed, thinly sliced
8 slices baguette, 1⁄2 inch (1 cm) thick
1⁄4 lb. (115 g) gruyère cheese, grated
In a heavy-based saucepan, melt butter with oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, shallots and bay leaves. Cook, uncovered, for about 25 minutes until they're softened and a bit sticky; don't allow them to brown. Stir in flour, cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, then add wine, stock and thyme. Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
Remove and discard bay leaves and thyme. Add brandy and stir. Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.
To prepare leeks, blend flour and cornstarch in a medium-sized bowl with a fork or whisk. Pour vegetable oil into a large, deep skillet to a depth of 11⁄2 inches (4 cm). Place over high heat. Working quickly, add leeks to bowl and toss with flour mixture to coat pieces, shaking off the excess. When oil is just beginning to smoke, reduce heat slightly and, working in batches, fry leeks for about 3 minutes until they're crisp and golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer leeks to a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining leeks. Set aside.
To make toasts, preheat broiler to 400°F (200°C). Place bread on a baking sheet and toast on one side, then the other. Sprinkle cheese on top of each slice and return to broiler until cheese is melted and beginning to brown.
To serve, ladle hot soup into bowls. Float cheese toasts on top and garnish with a portion of frizzled leeks. Serve immediately.