1. Vegetarian(ish) French(ish) Onion Soup
Around our way virtually every shop sells these 4kg sacks of onions for a very reasonable £2, so we thought we’d buy one and see if we could eat the entire contents in sufficiently varied ways that we didn’t slump into an Allium ennui induced coma. This onion soup is French(ish) because it is made without the traditional beef or dark chicken stock, and vegetarian(ish) because you’d have to shop around to find a suitable rennet-free cheese.
Before starting this soup, please note that it takes at least 4 hours to make.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 4 hours
Skill level: easy
Serves: 2 as a main, 4 as a starter/snack
- 8-12 onions – thinly sliced – 1 kg
- butter – 100g
- vegetable stock – 2 litres
- a generous glass of dry white wine
- brandy – 2 tbsp
- plain flour – 1½ tsp
- a few sprigs of thyme
- red wine vinegar (or sherry) – 1tsp
- salt and pepper
- 1 baguette – cut into thinnish slices
- extra virgin olive oil
- a few handfuls of grated Gruyere, Emmenthal or Beaufort
Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pan over a low heat and add onions and salt.
Cook over a low heat for THREE HOURS, stirring every 15 minutes or so to ensure it doesn’t stick.
After three hours the onions should be very soft and beautifully caramelised.
Pour in the white wine and vinegar and scrape around to de-glaze the pan.
Add the flour and cook at medium heat for a couple of minutes.
Next add the stock, thyme and brandy and cook at a very gentle simmer for about an hour.
Season to taste.
Drizzle the baguette with olive oil and grill on both sides.
Ladle soup into ovenproof bowls, top with a slice or two of baguette and cover with generous handful of cheese.
Place under a hot grill until molten and bubbling.
Serve immediately with extra slices of cheese on toast.
Verdict: A rich warming soup which is worth the considerable time needed to cook and caramelise the onions. The cheesy bread is equally as important as the soup, so ensure you make extra.
Drink: Finished off the white.
Entertainment: The second part of some Trevor (Luuuuuuuuuke) Eve vehicle on ITV … one of us lost interest a third of the way in.