If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If life gives you onions, make…er…bhajis? But bhajis aren’t renowned for their cheesiness (although I’m sure you could probably whack a bit of paneer in there with great results) and so, when I mucked up on a grocery order and found myself with the Mount Kilimanjaro of onions, French Onion Soup it was. Typically French Onion Soup is topped with melted gruyère and so I mused upon British cheese and thought of Lincolnshire Poacher. Poacher is made to a recipe loosely based on West Country cheddar but is also influenced by Swiss mountain cheeses due to the starter culture that’s used. The result is a smooth Gruyère-like texture but with the nutty, grassy taste of a mature Cheddar. Perfect melty cheese.
I initially took the recipe for this soup from The Slow Cook Book by Dorling Kindersley but then I got a bit fretty when my onions weren’t doing much so I consulted Delia’s Winter Collection for reassurance. It turned out well, the onions beautifully sweet and the top a mess of lovely cheesy soggy toast. Go easy on the brandy though
1 tbsp olive oil
675g onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp caster sugar
salt and pepper
120ml dry white wine
2 tbsp plain flour
1.5 litres hot beef stock
4 tbsp brandy (one per bowl, or to taste)
1 garlic clove, chopped in half
4 slices of baguette, about 2cm thick, toasted
115g Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, grated
Melt the butter and oil in a pan over a low heat. Stir together the onions and sugar and season with salt and pepper.
Cook uncovered, stirring every now and then, for about 40 minutes, or until the onions are rich and brown (this bit took me more like an hour). Don’t let them stick and burn on the bottom.
Stir in the wine. Increase the heat a tad and stir for five minutes, to glaze the onions. Sprinkle in the flour and stir for two minutes. Stir in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, put the lid on and leave it to simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required.
Meanwhile pre-heat the grill. Divide the soup between four flameproof bowls and stir 1 tbsp of brandy into each (do this to taste; mine was a bit over-brandied). Rub the garlic clove over the toast and place one slice in each bowl. Sprinkle with the cheese and grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
Sweet soup with a cheesy topping is pretty darn comforting, I’d say, and so I’m linking it up with this month’s Cheese, Please! Challenge.