When my friends talk about their childhood they mention things like when Opal Fruits became Starbursts, the Broons, Beatrix Potter and The Tales of Peter Rabbit…
I remember Tintin, Spirou and Astérix et Obélix.
Of the latter, we had all the comic books in the series, and for some reason unknown to this day, they were all in the bathroom, right next to the toilet. If someone disappeared in the bathroom for hours on end, you needn’t worry they had digestive issues – it was more likely they were simply reading in the loo. Because why the hell not.
Which brings me to this recipe (quite a jump, I know, but just keep up, will you). French onion soup, topped with crusty, buttered bread and shredded, grilled cheese.
Or my mother always calls it: «soupe à l’oignon y crouton»
This, my good friends, is Soupaloignon Y Crouton, from Astérix et Obélix en Hispanie (Asterix and Obelix in Iberia). His English name translates to Huevos Y Bacon, which is not even half as funny as his French name and is completely different anyway.
Food is always nourishing to me. ‘Nourishing’ means many different things. At times you need to nourish your body, to provide it with energising food; sometimes you need to nourish your soul, to nurse your heart’s wounds until time heals them; and at other times you need to nourish your inner child. I will often make this soup on a Thursday or Friday night, at the end of a tiring week at university. It soothes me, it makes me feel warm all the way into my toes. Sometimes that’s all you need from food.
Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée
* You can easily make this soup without wine, though the flavour won’t be quite as rich. Add more vegetable stock if omitting the wine and make sure the onions are well caramelised, otherwise you won’t get any good flavour out of your soup at all.
* The vegan butter makes all the difference. Olive oil will work fine in a pinch, but please, pleeease use butter if you can. The depth of flavour it provides is magnificent.
4 medium onions
1 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
750ml (3 cups) vegetable stock
about 2 glasses of white wine
a pinch of dried thyme
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp vegan butter + extra to butter the bread
3 slices of sourdough
shredded vegan cheese, to serve (optional)
nutritional yeast, to serve (optional)
First things first: peel and chop the onions in half. Slice each half very thinly.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sweat the onions for a few minutes, then add the garlic, salt and dried thyme. Cook for approximately 10 minutes; the onions need to be thoroughly softened and translucid (the salt will prevent them from burning).
Pour the stock into the saucepan, slightly lower the heat and cover with a lid. Leave it to gently simmer for 45 minutes for best results. Add the wine and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. You want some of the alcohol to burn off, but not completely.
The soup should now be a dark, coppery brown, the onions fall-part soft and caramelised.
Pre-heat the oven grill to 200ºC. Ladle the onion soup into 2-3 soup tureens (depending on their size, you may be able to serve more or fewer guests). Cover the soup with a slice of buttered sourdough bread, sprinkle over some vegan cheese or nutritional yeast. Place the tureens under the grill for about 3-5 minutes, or until the bread is toasted and the cheese, if used, is melted.
Serve immediately, but beware of burning your tongue.
What’s your favourite childhood memory?
Love and cookies,