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Winter warmer: Slow cooker French onion soup

Winter warmer: Slow cooker French onion soup

Every lazy cook in the world knows the benefits of the slow cooker. If you’ve yet to experience its minimal effort, maximum satisfaction repertoire – I suggest you go out and buy yourself a present.

Onion soup is one of those dishes that sets taste buds tingling. Melting, caramelised onions in a rich beef stock-broth, what could be better? Traditionally this dish is thought of as a peasant meal, with onions being plentiful and easy to grow, onion soup is often thought of as a fodder to fill up on.

Not this recipe. The slow cooking and floating gruyere croutons makes this dish fit for a king. This is a real winter warmer and can be prepared well in advance, a few simple steps then bung it in the slow cooker.

Serve with a very large glass of Malbec.


  • 8 medium brown onions (about 1.6kg)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 25g salted butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g corn flour
  • 1.5 litres rich beef stock
  • 1tsp Marmite or Bovril
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leave picked
  • 4 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
  • 4 bay leafs
  • 175ml dry sherry
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • A French stick
  • Gruyere


  1. Slice the onions into thin crescents and place in a large frying pan with the butter, thyme, rosemary, half the sugar and garlic. Fry for about 20 minutes on a low heat, add a little salt to make sure they don’t catch.

  2. A few minutes before you transfer the onion mix to the slow cooker, throw in the sherry and sizzle off the alcohol, about 3 minutes should do it. It really smells fabulous at this stage; it's cruel but you’ll have taste buds tingling hours before you’re eating.

  3. Make up the beef stock and stir in the Marmite, Dijon mustard and corn flour with a whisk making sure it’s fully dissolved. You won’t be forgiven if someone gets a mouthful of corn flour.

  4. Add the beef stock and onions to the slow cooker.  Stir in the remaining half of the sugar and bay leafs, then set the slow cooker to high.

  5. Your totally cooking time for this should be around 7 hours on high. Give it a stir every few hours and check the seasoning – it may need a little more sugar, sherry and salt.

  6. Once you’re happy with your soup, pour into a large serving bowl and put into the oven on a very low heat to keep warm.

  7. Now for the croutons. Slice the baguette into chunks ¾ of an inch thick – I usually do three croutons per serving and a few extra.

  8. Place the slices of bread on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and top with a generous helping of grated gruyere. Put the tray into the oven (180 degrees, gas mark 4) for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and started to go deliciously gooey.

  9. Remove the soup from the oven, float the croutons on top and serve.


Butcher for an evening

Butcher for an evening

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Pink to make the boys wink