CAT DEMPSEY takes you through a step by step of how to achieve this winter warmer, just in time for Christmas.
With the weather cooling down and the nights getting longer, I find that a bowl of warm soup nourishes the soul just as much as it does the body. This recipe was born from spontaneity, a sudden craving for French onion soup on a cold December night despite never having tried it before. It was adapted from Binging with Babish from YouTube. However, I have simplified it, both for my bank account and my student lifestyle. It is a great way to impress as it seems like it could be fairly complicated. Nevertheless, I have found that it is not only simple, it’s also a very therapeutic meal to cook. It is cheesy, sweet and savoury, warming and delicious, and truly is one of my favourite things to cook to cheer myself up after a long day.
White onions (one per portion)
2 cloves of garlic
1 small shallot
250ml good stock per onion
Pepper and salt to taste
Good quality bread (I use sourdough bloomer from Tesco)
½ tablespoon butter
½ tablespoon oil
1. Finely slice the onion(s) until you have lots of thin strips. You might choose to dice the onion, however I find the thin slices much more enjoyable in the soup.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the oil on a medium-low heat.
3. Add your onions to the butter and oil, and mix to allow all of the onions to be coated by the butter and oil as much as possible.
4. On the medium-low heat, slowly caramelise the onions. This is the reason this recipe might appear complicated or hard. Caramelising onions involved frequently mixing and moving the onions to allow all of the onion slices to have direct contact with the bottom of the pan. It will take up to an hour to properly caramelise the onions, and you are looking for a deep dark colour and a very sweet aroma.
5. Once the onions are thoroughly caramelised, add diced shallots and garlic and allow them to soften and become aromatic.
6. Using the stock, ‘deglaze’ the bottom of the pan. This means to add a small amount of liquid to cause all the fond or bits of caramelised onion from the bottom of the pan to unstick. Use a spoon to make sure all of the fond is off the bottom of the plan.
7. Slowly add the rest of the stock in portions, allowing the stock in the pan to come to a bubble before adding more. Once all the stock is added, allow the soup to simmer for 5-10 minutes to deepen the flavour.
8. Salt and pepper to taste (I use soy sauce instead do salt to improve colour as well as seasoning)
9. Slice your bread, if it is something like a farmhouse loaf I would recommend dicing into large croutons and lightly toasting.
10. In an oven safe bowl, ladle out your portions of soup. Top with a very small amount of cheese, the croutons or slices of bread, and then more cheese. Make it as cheesy as you like; as this is one of the few times I allow myself to have dairy I tend to indulge in quite a lot of cheesy goodness.
11. Melt the cheese on top of the bread under the grill, allowing to become covered in lovely brown bubbly bits.
12. Garnish with something green, e.g. slices of chives or a sprig of thyme
Written by Cat Dempsey