Melissa Collison


ooh la la

It's been so cold outside, I've had a longing for French Onion soup - real cravings for it. The strange thing is, I've only eaten it once before and I certainly haven't cooked it.  And, I don't suppose my Mum's French Onion Soup dip which was a packet of the soup mix into a carton of sour cream and polished off with some Sao's, circa 70s, stands me in good stead for this culinary delight...

I'm under no delusions that the images I have taken below of my French Onion Soup are going to win me photographic or styling awards. Perhaps I can blame it on the fact that I was rushing to serve it to hungry guests and had no time to fuss about.  This is real food; hearty, winter feel-good food.  I managed not to burn half the loaf of bread and ended up with enough slices for four serves. As a side note, one of my guests is French.  What on earth was I thinking?  

So if you're stuck for something to cook tonight, and have a sad bare fridge, I'm sure you can dig deep in the bottom of the cupboard and find a few brown onions, butter, bay leaves, thyme, parsley and beef stock.  If you don't have any Gruyère cheese or a French stick, you may have to pop into the deli + Boulangerie on the way home.*

Note:   the soup was simply delicious.

1. Melt butter in a large, wide heavy-based saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until onions are soft. Remove lid and cook for 1 hour or until soft and starting to caramelise. I then add a dash of brandy...Add stock, ½ a cup at a time, and simmer for 5 minutes or until stock has almost evaporated. Repeat three times more, until 2 cups of stock has been added. Using kitchen twine, tie herbs together; add to onions with remaining stock and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer, scraping the base to remove any caramelised bits, for 40 minutes or until thick. Makes 6 cups.

2. Preheat oven to 200°C. Sprinkle with cheese, top each baguette slices, and sprinkle more cheese. Place in oven and cook for 5 minutes or until cheese melts.  Ladle soup into each bowl and plop the cheesy bread on top - garnish. Serve immediately.

Whenever I have friends over, and even if it is for something as simple as soup, I always have flowers.  Garden fresh roses are a simple pleasure. 

*While you are at the Boulangerie, you might consider grabbing yourself a sneaky treat.