Tuesday, April 28, 2015

(French) Onion Soup: the easier way

So I had a bundle full of gentlemen coming over to hang out, play games and be of good cheer. I was asked if I could make them lunch. Thankfully, I was also after a new Heston Blumenthal dish to try - one that scaled well, and didn't take too much trouble for an easy weekend. French Onion soup it is.

Onion Soup

Heston Blumenthal at Home

This recipe makes good use of one of Heston's often mentioned star anise in onion. Which makes sense, because onion soup is largely onion and stock. In a good way. A delicious, caramelised brown bowl of tastiness.

Caramelise onion

To start, take some oil...

 a lot of onion...
 and some star anise.
 Start cooking and stirring...
 Keep going until it is lightly caramelised


Add some butter and cold water.
Then put it in the oven for seven hours at 90 degrees. It will then look a bit like this. Don't worry, it's not as crusty and unpleasant as it looks. 


Remove the star anise

This may take some hunting.
Then de-glaze with some white wine, then cook to reduce the wine away.


Add the liquids

Add the beef stock and simmer.
For 20 minutes.

Then add some Madeira, and let it simmer for another 20 minutes.
Add some more Madeira (I skipped this, feeling it was boozy enough) and salt and pepper.

Time to make the toast!

Pan fry some sourdough in butter.

Smear them with Dijon mustard, cover them in Gruyere cheese and grill.

Serve soup, with cheesy toast floating/wallowing in the thick soup, scattered with artistic chives. Regular chives would also be acceptable.

Lessons learned

  • Recipe, as is often the case for Heston, makes way more than you need. For example, you only need one slice of bread per person. I had all strapping young gents and even they found it plenty.
That's it really. It went pretty well to plan.


Another good, easy recipe that need elapsed time but not a huge amount of active time. Of course, caramelising the onions took longer than the 15 minutes Heston claims, but I've found recipes always underestimate that time. A note to those not familiar with this dish - it is more filling than you'd expect.

Guest verdict

The gentlemen gathered at lunch all enjoyed the soup very much.
My favourite comment was from a guest who'd never had a from-scratch onion soup before. "So this is what French onion soup actually tastes like! I feel like I've been lied to my whole life."

1 comment:

  1. This sounds really nice. Always looking for new recipes to try. Thanks for sharing.