JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Friday, January 05, 2007

Onion soup

What is it about soup and the New Year? Something light and cheap after the holidays, I suppose. This was lunch the other day - onions, a little bread, some left over cheese, slowly transformed into something greater than the sum of its parts, the sweetness of the onions complementing the savoury crouton.

Peel one large onion per person, cut it in half and then slice as finely as possible. Fry on the lowest heat in the least possible amount of olive oil, stirring every so often, for half an hour or more, until the onions are melting and beginning to brown. Then add liquid. This can be water or stock. Either will do. If it is water, then a little flavouring wouldn't come amiss - say, a little wine, perhaps there's some brandy left over from the Christmas cake, a little balsamic vinegar, any of those three bubbled up before adding water sparingly. Or stock, but only if you've made it. (I find this takes very little effort: say, two minutes twice, spread over several hours - washing up the pan takes more.) Simmer the soup gently for 20-30 minutes, until the onion is meltingly tender and all the flavours are amalgamated.

When it's ready, toast some bread, add cheese, grill. We used cheddar for the children, stilton for the adults.

Serve in shallow soup plates, and float the rarebit on top.

Variations would include adding thyme, or cinnamon, or nutmeg. But what makes this so delicious is its simplicity (it's hardly a recipe, more a reminder), so probably best not to try too many variations.

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