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Although you can cook it in a microwave, a butternut is at its best when oven-baked for about two hours at 160°C: it will be colourful, soft, easy to peel and de-seed, and wonderfully flavoursome. And you can use it to make a lovely velvety butternut soup.

The French, without doubt, makes the best onion soup in the world: it is a perfect combination of smooth textures and flavours.

While every region and bistro across France has its own version of this classic dish, very few non-French restaurants seem to be able to make a decent bowl of French onion soup.

We cannot understand why, because it is a simple enough dish to prepare at home, as we do on cold and wet winter nights (that is, frequently).

This is one of our regular winter soup recipes. The important thing is to simmer it gently for the whole day to bring out that meat-bone heartiness, so you will need a slow cooker, or a slow stove plate and a heavy pot with a solid lid.