In my humble opinion, this year has had two seasons: spring straight into winter. So now we’re back to the cold evenings, the heating is on and it is time for soup. I love soup. Really I do. Love how versatile it is and how easy it is. A lot of people think soup is difficult, if you own any form of blender it is simplicity. For your multi-veg ones you can use a food processor to chop your vegetables before stewing or you can do it the old fashioned way and chop them yourself.
I recently treated myself to a top-of-the-range knife and like the complete sad person that I am, have really enjoyed the opportunity to slice or dice anything. I had a bag of onions that were near the turn and like every good recessionista, chose to use them in a soup. French onion soup can be a palaver; there are so many variations on the recipe. My recipe is in no way traditional, far from it. It is a lighter, quicker version and perfect for reheating for work lunches. I freeze the soup in old Chinese takeaway cartons and reheat straight from frozen. If you’re eating it fresh, I definitely recommend toasting your large French crouton topped with gooey Gruyere cheese.
Makes 6 portions
6-8 medium onions, peeled, halved and sliced
2tbsp olive oil
Knob of butter
Leaves from a small sprig of thyme
Small clove garlic, crushed
2 to 2.5 litres stock, chicken or beef
Sea salt & fresh black pepper
Heat the oil and butter very gently in a large saucepan, don’t let the butter burn. Then add your sliced onion, and gently cook for at least 20mins until soft and golden. Stir very often. It is important that you don’t let the onions catch, or else your soup will have a bitter, burnt taste. A good pinch of salt added to the onions, helps to withdraw the moisture and stop them burning.
Once golden, add your garlic and thyme leaves. Stir into the onions and then add the stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for a further 10-20mins, it really is up to you. The joy of this soup is that it can be as quick as you like. Do not season the soup until about 5-10mins before you finish it. Some stocks can be salty so it’s best to have the soup cooked before you add any additional salt or pepper.
– I sometimes like to add a little Parmesan rind with the stock. Just remember to remove it before you freeze it.
– Before you add your stock, you can add a splash of brandy or white wine. Make sure the onions are dry and the alcohol has cooked off before you add the rest of the liquid.
– To serve fresh, cut thick slices of French loaf. Lay on a baking sheet and top with grated Gruyere cheese, or similar, and bake until gooey and golden. Drop a crouton into each bowlful of soup and slurp away.