- In a large, heavy-based pan, heat the butter and 1 1/2 tbsp oil, then stir in the onions and sugar. Cover the pan with a lid and cook, stirring occasionally, over a medium heat, for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, turn up the heat a little and cook, stirring frequently, for a further 5 minutes or until the onions are softened and golden brown.
- While the onions are caramelising, heat a heavy frying pan until very hot. Brush the steak slices with the remaining oil and season lightly. Fry for about 3 minutes on each side, turning once, until golden brown but still pink inside. Remove from the heat and cover with a sheet of foil to keep warm.
- Add the garlic, ale and bay leaf to the onions. Bring to the boil, then simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add the stock, season, then return to the boil.
- Slice the steak pieces into thin ribbon strips, adding any juices to the soup. Discard the bay leaf. Ladle the soup into wide bowls and place a pile of meat strips in the centre of each. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
For ale, use extra stock with 1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce. * For bay leaf, use a sprig of fresh thyme.
…use it up
If you have some leftover roast beef or lamb you can use it instead of the steak. Slice into thin ribbons and add to the soup for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking to heat through.
The basic onion soup can be made up to two days in advance. Cool quickly, cover and store in the fridge. The steak can be cooked at the time of serving.