With the weather getting cooler, for the weekend thoughts turned to French Onion Soup, that had been part of the repertoire and popular in the household, but seemed overdue for a revival. It also brought back memories of the Breton Onion Johnnies that once sold actual French onions in strings strung over their bicycles, but alas, it is a sight not seen since the 60s in London. In lieu of the ar Johnniged onions I made do with large brown onions for the soup and crisp fried shallots for a garnish. On the question of stock, I personally find beef stock overpowers the sweetness of the onion so have opted for water, green apple juice (no cider being available) and some Marmite. Vegetarians will inevitably opt for this version anyway, but in any case, I feel sure it is closer to its peasant roots and am positively looking for sweetness, even to the extent of using a little sugar. What was good for Bartolomeo Scappi (c. 1500-1577), is good enough for me. Scappi was arguably the most famous chef of the Italian Renaissance, overseeing the preparation of meals for several Cardinals and became the personal cook for two Popes.
The other thing I did was to serve the toasts on the side, so the diner has the option of using them as croutons or (as I did) for dunking the toasts. I feel that baguette crusts are a little tough for cutting with a soup spoon!