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Tuscan Onion Soup

Pancetta is similar to bacon, but it is air- and salt-cured for about 6 months. Pancetta is available from most delicatessens and some large supermarkets. If you cannot obtain pancetta use unsmoked bacon instead.

ingredients

serves 4
50 g (1 3/4 oz) pancetta ham, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
4 large white onions, sliced thinly into rings
3 garlic cloves, chopped
850 ml (1 1/2 pints) 3 1/2 cups hot chicken or ham stock
4 slices ciabatta or other Italian bread
50 g (1 3/4 oz) 3 tbsp butter
75 g (2 3/4 oz) Gruyere or Cheddar
salt and pepper

method

1. Dry fry the pancetta in a large saucepan for 3 - 4 minutes until it begins to brown. Remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside until required.

2. Add the oil to the pan and cook the onions and garlic over a high heat for 4 minutes. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the onions are lightly caramelized.

3. Add the stock to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave the mixture to simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes.

4. Toast the slices of ciabatta on both sides, under a preheated grill (broiler),
for 2 - 3 minutes or until golden. Spread the ciabatta with butter and top with the Gruyere or Cheddar cheese. Cut the bread into bite-size pieces.

5. Add the reserved pancetta to the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste.

6 Pour into 4 soup bowls and top with the toasted bread.

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