French Onion Soup Keeps Away The Winter Chills

French onion soup Provencale style is my new comfort food

French onion soup Provencale style is my new comfort food

I’ve tried white wine Sauvignon Blanc, and the Bristol Cream Sherry, but the other day, I capitulated to discovering more culinary delights and I bought a half bottle of brandy to further add to the complex flavours of my latest fun recipé cum comfort food, French Onion Soup writes Jim Masson.

Who would have thought that me of all people would sit down to a bowl of onions, the main ingredient in this soup?

I saw TV chef James Martin making it on the telly a few weeks ago and I’ve made a few potfulls of it since. I’m so impressed!

The ingredients are what most of us have in our cupboards and fridges, a few large onions, beef stock cubes, salt, pepper, a couple of cloves of garlic, butter, olive oil, and brown sugar. But here’s the fun part.

A wee bowl of my home made French Onion Soup with a grilled bread and Red Leicester cheese topping. (Photo by Jim Masson).

A slash of wine, followed by another smaller quantity of sherry is what I started off with and the finished product was fantastic. However, I challenged myself and added the brandy as on the James Martin recipe, and it certainly broadened the flavour base even more.

Start off with chopping your onions into half moon slices, and brown off in a large pan with oil (I use olive oil). Be careful the onions don’t catch. You have to give them an occasional stir. Add the finely diced garlic clove at this stage as garlic cooks quicker and will taste bitter if cooked with the onions too early. Lob in the butter. This will help give it a nice glaze.

When the onions looking browned, add the three alcohols and cook off the spirit so there is no active alcohol left, then add the brown sugar. At this stage you could add the salt and pepper, while this is cooking down, get the pot with the stock ready. Basically, the stock in a nutshell is a kettle of hot water on the boil and a couple of beef OXO cubes. Stir this up so there are no lumps.

Then add the onions and the juices they are cooking in to the pot with the stock and simmer for a while.

In the provencale area of France this is seen as a rustic dish. So ladle the soup into a tallish soup bowl. Then comes another fun part.

Grate up a load of cheese, any type such as cheddar will do nicely, but Emmenthal or Gruyére is recommended, and gently toast a couple of slices of bread (semi-stale bread will do). Now, almost there!

Put the bread on top of the soup and cover lavishly with the grated cheese and put under a hot grill until it all melts down and gets a nice top. It may run down the side of the bowl but James Martin says that’s how it’s served, the rustic effect.

All that remains is for you to sit down and enjoy the bowl of soup. It definitely is a fairly easy way to turn a bag onions into a comfort food that even the kids will enjoy! Now that’s saying something!

Check out the link for the exact quantities and read James Martin’s recipe: