Easy peasy meals @ home – ONIONS

Summer is well and truly here, we’re junking, we’re beaching, and those annual summer holidays are approaching! I’ve just shelled out for tickets to Paris, and after a week of degustation menus, day trips to vineyards in Champagne, and a romantic getaway to Mont St. Michel, followed by a week in Corsica with best friends (yay!), I know I’m going to be feeling very poor!

So after a gorgeous meal at Yardbird last Friday with my lovely gal pal SN, I have decided that I am going to try and conserve my funds (and my waistline) as much as possible until France – which certainly means no shopping, and much less eating out.

Consequently I’ll be cooking more at home, which I’m quite excited about! I’ll be opting for recipes that are simple and tasty, which allow me to use all of the ingredients I purchase, rather than scooping out that one tablespoon of creme fraiche and then letting the rest of the $60 container go bad. And let’s face it, the last think we want to do when we get home after a long day is channel our inner chef!

Similarly, I have lots of random ingredients in my pantry that I bought for some elaborate recipe in the past (a huge bag of pine nuts and hazelnuts, coriander seeds, Japanese cake flour, coconut oil,  to name a few), which I am going to try and use.

To start off, yesterday I made my French Onion Soup, and all I needed to buy was onions and thyme! 🙂 If you have a 1/4 bottle of white wine in the fridge which you are never going to drink, this is the perfect way to use it.

French Onion Soup – simplified

You’ll need (serves 4 as a light meal or 6 as a starter):

30g butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
a few sprigs of thyme (optional)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp plain flour
1.4L boiling beef stock
120ml dry white wine
2 tbsp cognac or brandy
French baguette (or any crusty bread you have on hand)
Parmesan cheese, grated
Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced(or any cheese which melts)

Melt the butter in a large pot, add the olive oil. Add the onions and cook them over low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that they don’t brown.

Sprinkle in the flour and salt, and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the boiling beef stock and wine, stirring it to incorporate everything well.

Cover the soup and simmer over low heat for 30-40 mins, skimming occasionally. Stir in the cognac right before serving, et voila! You can either have the soup just like this for a lighter version, or if you want, grill one slice of baguette each with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan, place it in the bottom of the soup bowl. Pour over the soup then layer the thinly sliced Gruyere over the top. Place it under the grill until melted and bubbling, then serve immediately.

Unless you’re serving this at a dinner party, there’s no real need to be 100% authentic. We always have Rose Noire “housewife bread” at home (usually sold sliced), a tasty rye bread that I substituted for the baguette. The same goes for the cheese, of which we always have French Cantal or Vintage Cheddar. 

Cognac is a nice addition and gives this soup a little extra warmth, but if you don’t have it in the pantry, you can go without and it will still be absolutely fine.

That’s the great thing about soups, you can work with what you have, and it will still taste pretty damn good! 

And there’s always plenty left for later 🙂

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