Happy Saturday! And a very enjoyable Saturday this is turning out to be. Any day’s off to a good start when pancakes are around. Lemon and sugar is always good but toffee sauce and strawberries won out this morning. This plate of goodness brought a ray of sunshine to proceedings, which was welcome considering the gloom outside.
However, the clouds slowly lifted and the sun is shining brightly around here this afternoon.
The trees are blowing merrily and fluffy white clouds are whizzing through the sky. Everything seems right with the world when the sky’s that colour.
I love watching the light dance over the lake like little jewels glinting on the surface. We are very lucky to have such a beautiful area of tranquility opposite us. You can almost forget that we live in the middle of England’s 2nd biggest city!
Now, I know that I said that today would be sharing the delights of yesterday’s adventures however today has involved some last minute cooking so I am going to share my lunch with you instead!
Soup isn’t the automatic choice for the hottest recorded day in 2012, but this morning did not give many clues to the delightful weather instore. Also, the good thing about French Onion soup is that it is a soup that can be enjoyed all year round without making you think of chilly January evenings with the fire blazing.
I love French Onion Soup – it is always my chosen starter at Café Rouge. Unlike many others, it is a really simple soup to make at home but the results are restaurant quality in both taste and (sometimes) appearance without the price tag. For a really indepth study of broth creation check out this page on the Guardian website, but I think the recipe is fairly flexible and can be adapted to suit your store cupboard.
French Onion Soup – serves 4-6
1kg onions, finely sliced
2tsps sugar (I use demerera)
1tbsp vinegar (balsalmic, cider or wine vinegar work well)
2 heaped tsp cornflour/cornstarch
1.2ml stock (see below)
1tsp Bovril/Marmite (optional)
Glug of sherry/brandy (optional)
The secret to good onion soup is to fry the onions for a long time on medium, stirring regularly, until they are brown and caramelised. I usually do them for 30-40 mins.
When they start sticking, stir in the vinegar and scrape any goodness off the bottom of the pan.
Many recipes will tell you to add flour now but I find that this can lead to the possibility of lumps, especially if you are impatient and trying to get dinner on the table. To eliminate this problem, mix the cornflour with a little water to make a paste then add to the stock.
A word about the stock. I usually prefer a mixture of beef stock and cider or white wine, though the booze may be omitted if preferred. The better quality your stock is the tastier your soup will be so I usually use stock pots or ready made stock, although cubes will be fine. Vegetable stock will work well if you are looking for a vegetarian version.
Add your chosen liquid to the onions and cook on low – the longer, the better so allow 1hr or pop in the slow cooker until dinner. (If the family is threatening mutiny then just simmer for as long as possible!)
Finally, season to taste and add in the booze if using.
Serve with cheesy croutons – toast some baguette, sprinkle with grated cheese then grill until bubbling. Stringy cheese, such as Gruyère works particularly well but this was last minute cooking for guests so we had cheddar on ciabatta!
I hope you will feel inspired to soup up your dinner one day soon. Let me know if you try the recipe or have your own version.