onion soup

I love winter. I love the rain, I love snuggling up in my pyjamas and a doona, watching movies and drinking hot chocolate. Or coffee. Or tea. I love watching the rain fall. I love skirts and tights, leggings, boots, socks and legwarmers. I love hoodies and scarves and coats and jumping in puddles.

And I love soup.

Pumpkin Soup.

Minestrone.

Potato and Leek, possibly my favourite type of soup, despite its simplicity.

And I’ve been hanging out to try a whole list of soups, and waiting for winter, and proper soup weather, to arrive for me to do so. On my list, no longer onion soup but 44 clove garlic soup, baked potato soup, homemade tomato soup (maybe with the homegrown heritage tomatoes we have here at the family home) and some sort of dumpling soup. A vegetarian kind of dumpling soup, which by all accounts will be hard to come by. We’ll get there.

There isn’t much to say about this soup, except that it is weepingly delicious, started out life in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, and was the perfect antidote to my flu-like symptoms. They haven’t disappeared, but they are definitely on the back burner of my mind right now. All due to this soup.

Onion Soup

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking via Smitten Kitchen

780g thinly sliced brown onions

3tbsp butter

1 tbsp/slosh of vegetable oil (I have no doubt that the original olive oil requested would elevate this soup even further than it is, however, there was none in the house. We make do.)

Salt to taste

1/2 tsp sugar

3tbsp plain flour

approx 2 litres brown stock (we used mushroom; you can use beef if you’re not vegetarian; but please, for the love of all that is good in this world, make your own. We had 50g of dehydrated shiitake mushrooms and boiled them for about an hour or two. THAT’S ALL IT TAKES PEOPLE. Just remember to keep topping up the water if it reduces too much.)

3/4 cup dry white wine

1 tbsp brandy or cognac (optional but recommended. You can definitely add more to taste; the original recipe called for three tablespoons but we didn’t actually have that much.)

For the gratinée (also optional but recommended.):

About 350-400g sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Crusty bread to cover six bowls, toasted until hard

Butter

Melt butter and olive oil in the bottom of your soup pot or Dutch oven (about 4 litres) and add the onion; stir to coat and turn the heat down low for about 15 minutes, until the onion is translucent ish. You don’t need to baby them; just cover them and let them go.

After the 15 minutes or so, sprinkle the salt and sugar over the onions and stir to coat; turn the heat up to medium and caramelize for 30-40 minutes (or longer if the spirit so moves you) stirring often. Don’t skimp on the caramelization. It’s worth it.

Sprinkle the flour over the caramelized onions and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add all the wine and a little bit of stock at a time, stirring well in between additions. Lower heat to a simmer and cover, partially, to simmer for about 30 minutes or so; skim off the scum if you need to (we needed to).

Correct seasonings and stir in the cognac or brandy. Set aside until needed, or serve immediately, if not gratinéeing the tops.

For the gratinée:

Preheat oven to 170ºC. Line a tray with foil and place six soup bowls on it (we had to use two trays); Fill them with soup. Sprinkle a little cheese into each bowl. Butter the crusty croutons and float them, butter side down, on the soup, covering as much surface area as you can. Cover the croutons with cheese and place in the oven for about 20 minutes; grill them for a few minutes at the end to brown the cheese. Serve immediately and carefully – the bowls will be hot. Cures all manner of ailments.

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