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CUT all of the onions into rings. Finely chop the garlic cloves. PLACE the big pot onto the stove over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter and let melt. When the butter has melted, add 1 tablespoon of flour.
This will make the roux. Add the chopped garlic cloves. A roux will thicken the soup somewhat, you can skip this part and only add the butter and not the flour. The soup will be lighter in colour and more watery, we prefer starting with a roux.
Add the onion rings, turn down the heat so that the onions won't bake. Instead, they should simmer for about 10 minutes, or until soft. STIR the onion rings and mix them with the roux or butter.
Place the lid on the pot and stir every few minutes to prevent the onion rings from sticking to the pan.
POUR in the chicken stock (should be hot) into the pan and stir. ADD 2 bay leaves, put the lid back onto the pan and turn the heat up to a medium-high setting. Season with salt & pepper and let the soup gently boil for about 20 minutes.
We think it's best to prepare this soup one day in advance, though you can eat it the same day. The big advantage of preparing this French onion soup one day in advance is that the flavours of the onion will be well-distributed throughout the soup.
Optional, but required in the classic recipe: Bake a French bread, slice it, then place it on top of the soup in either a bowl of the deep plate. Add Swiss Gruyère cheese on top, serve while hot. Enjoy!