Sunday, 23 February 2014

Recipe: sort of French onion soup

I've never made French onion soup, not ever.  There's a confession for you.  However, I had a load of onions that needed using before they sprouted so I thought I'd have a go.  There's a whole lot of recipes out there, all saying different things but basically it's onions, fat, stock, maybe some wine and flour, plus cheese melted on bread as a topping.

I had all those things but not necessarily authentic versions but you know me - have a go regardless is my motto.

So I sliced up a lot of onions, browned them off in oil and butter and then popped the pan into the oven on a low heat to simmer and soften for ages because I couldn't be bothered to keep stirring them on the hob.  Somehow you don't seem to need to stir so much in the oven.  At first they tasted bitter but as they slowly 'roasted' the sweetness started developing.

Then the pan went back on the hob for a bit more heat.  I think that's to caramelise although I reckon there's a very fine line between that and burning - a line I didn't cross yesterday, thank goodness.

I've had some chicken bones simmering in the slow cooker for several days now and the resulting stock is delicious so I used that.  Some recipes say beef stock, some say any stock, one says use Marigold stock, so I reckoned that as this was my version, chicken stock would be fine.  It was.  Unfortunately and idiotically, I added too much flour so had to add some water and then a bit of 'stock pot' stock (the bought, commercial kind) - darn it!

So I stirred in (too much) flour and cooked it out before adding stock and some white wine (left over from yesterday) and the extra water and flavouring, stirring madly until it came to a simmer.  Then I popped on the lid and let it continue simmering for a while, just like the recipes said.  Then I tasted it.

You know, for an ad hoc effort with a bit of a disaster in the middle, it didn't half taste good.  It wasn't dark, of course, it was light in colour and I didn't do the cheese on toast I just popped in some grated cheese but - wow!  Accompanied by a glass of white wine it really tasted rather wonderful.

There are, obviously, things to improve.  I think the onions need longer; they were mostly soft but there was the occasional harder bit that might not have been there with another 15 mins.  I might  try using Thermione for that next time.  The goof up with the flour was silly and unnecessary.  Maybe, next time, I shall try to do it properly - I have some beef bones in the freezer to make some stock.   And at some point I ought to make it with vegetable stock, just to see, because Beth can't have any otherwise.

In the meanwhile, I have another bowlful to either enjoy today or maybe tomorrow for tea.

I think I shall have to call it Chelmsford Onion Soup!

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