Thursday, March 24, 2011


You must think that all I do is post about Jamie Oliver, and I apologize for that, but it's his kind of cooking that really generally does inspire me; rustic, family, simple, beautiful! So I have another one to add to the books this week. When I was watching Jamie at Home during our silly spring snowstorm yesterday he was making French Onion Soup. I have never been more inspired to get off the couch, to the grocery store and then to start cooking. It's all I wanted, perfect comfort food for a blizzardy day.

A word to the wise about this soup, it is necessary to caramelize your onions, which means it will take over an HOUR at a low temperature! So for you speedy cookers, this is not the recipe for you. Luckily I wasn't going anywhere and I had plenty of time to spare. Since I made such a big batch, mine actually took about two hours! The wonders of food...

Jamie's description of the dish is quite cute and funny so I thought I would add it in too!

Jamie's English Onion Soup
Total time: about 2:30 (or less depending on your onions!)
Servings: 8 generous portions

"There's something so incredibly humble about onion soup. It's absolutely one of my favorites but unfortunately I only ever get to make it in the restaurant or for myself as the missus thinks she's allergic to onions. (She's not, because I whiz them up into loads of dishes without her knowing!)
If you have the opportunity, get hold of as many different types of onion for this soup as you can - you need about 2 pounds in total. Sweat them gently and you'll be amazed at all the flavors going on"

- Good knob of butter
- Olive oil
- Handful fresh sage leaves, 8 leaves reserved for garnish ( I also added about 4 sprigs of thyme in as well, because I love the flavour and its perfect with this soup!)
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 3 large red onions (or 5 small red onions), peeled and sliced
- 3 large white onions, peeled and sliced
- 3  shallots, peeled and sliced
- 11 ounces leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced (I just did one bunch)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 cups good-quality hot beef, chicken or vegetable stock
- 8 slices good-quality stale bread, 3/4-inch thick (I just used a white French baguette and toasted it for the stale effect)
- 7 ounces freshly grated Cheddar
- Worcestershire sauce

- Put the butter, 2 glugs of olive oil, the sage and garlic into a heavy bottomed, nonstick pan. Stir everything round and add the onions, shallots and leeks. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place a lid on the pan, leaving it slightly ajar, and cook slowly for 50 minutes, without coloring the vegetables too much. Remove the lid for the last 20 minutes, the onions will become soft and golden. Stir occasionally so that nothing catches on the bottom. Having the patience to cook the onions slowly, slowly, gives you an incredible sweetness and an awesome flavor, so don't be tempted to speed this up.
- When your onions and leeks are lovely and silky, add the stock. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. You can skim any fat off the surface if you like, but I prefer to leave it because it adds good flavor.

- Preheat the oven or broiler to maximum. Toast your bread on both sides. Correct the seasoning of the soup. When it's perfect, ladle it into individual heatproof serving bowls and place them on a baking sheet. Tear toasted bread over each bowl to t like a lid. Feel free to push and dunk the bread into the soup a bit. Sprinkle with some grated Cheddar and drizzle over a little Worcestershire sauce.
Dress your reserved sage leaves with some olive oil and place 1 on top of each slice of bread. Put the baking sheet into the preheated oven or under the broiler to melt the cheese until bubbling and golden. Keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't burn! When the cheese is bubbling, very carefully lift out the baking sheet and carry it to the table. Enjoy.

photo credit: my own

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