French Onion way with buttery garlic ciabatta croutons
Serves 4-6

5/6 medium or 3 large Spanish onions, peeled and thinly sliced
50g butter
3 large cloves fresh garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 litres boiling water
3 chicken stock cubes
1 beef stock cube
1 tbsp Brandy
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp dark brown sugar

To Garnish
Buttery garlic ciabatta croutons*
Grated Gruyere or fresh Parmesan

1.In a medium/large pot gently melt the butter and add the onions & garlic, stir and cover with a lid leave them to soften over a low to medium heat. Stir them regularly, they are ready when they are soft, sticky, sweet and deep gold in colour.
2.Add the sugar this help the onions to caramelise, at this stage I scrap the bottom of the pot with the wooden spoon making sure the onions do not burn, your looking to caramelise the onions which will give the soup it's rich dark colour & flavour, do this for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour in the boiling water, black cracked pepper, crumble in the chicken & beef stock cubes stir well and partially cover with a lid, leave to simmer for a good 45 minutes to an hour, meanwhile make your buttery garlic croutons ..

*Buttery Garlic Croutons
Ciabatta loaf/rolls cut into thin slice (see pic) left out over night to become hard.
40g melted butter
2 fresh garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
Pinch maldon* sea salt
Melt the butter gently, remove from the heat and add the crushed garlic, brush each ciabatta slice both sides, with the buttery mix! Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven at 180c/gas mark 4 until golden brown, sprinkle with maldon sea salt.
Cool on a wire rack.

Pour this smouldering sweet bowl of dark gorgeousness into deep, heatproof bowls, place ¾ slices of the buttery garlic croutons on top of each bowl, smother generously with grated Gruyère or freshly grated Parmesan, melt under a hot grill until cheese melts, serve with fresh crusty French bread & Irish butter (a match made in heaven)