So what did I do with my Australia Day holiday today? I didn't go to the beach and play beach cricket, or have a barbeque with mates. I didn't drink shitloads of beer and listen to the Triple J hottest 100.
No. Because I am who I am, I made soup.
This hair-brained scheme occurred to me yesterday morning, when I was commuting through bucketing rain to my dreary, boring desk job. I thought to myself "well, tomorrow is going to be gloomy and rainy and miserable, so I may as well stay inside all day and make French Onion soup".
Where the French Onion part came from I have no idea. I do recall watching someone make it on Food Safari one night months ago though so maybe the kernel of the plan hatched back then.
So off to the supermarket I went yesterday afternoon, on a mission for toilet paper (incidental to this blog post, but the main reason I was going) and ingredients. I had spent most of my day googling recipes instead of working so I knew I had most of the stuff to cook with at home.
Lo and behold, today dawned sunny. Yep, sunny - blue skies, only a few clouds, it was even warm. Darn. There went my plan of curling up in my bedsocks on the couch with my snuggie on watching DVDs. And yet, I did not let the warmer temperature nor lack of rain deter me from my soup-making plan. I needed something to distract me from the housework.
Ingredients. Note I didn't end up using the olive oil or the sugar. These were from a recipe I decided not to use.
Onions with butter and a pinch of sale, ready to start sautéing. I also threw in a clove of garlic, finely chopped, because I had seen this in another recipe and figured garlic is great in anything. This part was awesome, it took half an hour and the house smelled amazing. God I love French cooking, they use so much butter.
Ok I forgot to take a photo of the sautéed onions, but this is after I added the beef stock and started simmering. Heavenly.
Finished soup! So good! Bread was grilled with Colby cheese as I wasn't buying fancy French cheese specifically for this.
I would just like to assure you all that this soup tasted amazing. I had two bowls for lunch and froze three more portions. I have never made this before and am usually a terrible cook so I am immensely pleased at the way this turned out.
The last soup I tried to make from scratch was the leek one from French Women Don't Get Fat and it was awful. I don't know if it's meant to taste like that or I stuffed it up but it put me off for a long while.
Here is the recipe I used, from bakingbites.com. Note I omitted the thyme because although I thought I had some, there was none to be found amongst our 367 bottles of herbs and spices in the pantry. Interestingly, the thyme is not listed in the ingredients but mentioned in the method. Anyway, it was fine without it!
Easy French Onion Soup
2 tbsp butter
6 medium-large white or yellow onions
1 cup water
6 cups good-quality beef stock
salt and pepper
thick baguette slices, toasted
sliced gruyere or havarti cheese
Cut onions in half, peel of dry outer layer, and slice onions thinly into approx. 1/4-inch slices.
Heat a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add in butter, onions and a large pinch of salt.
Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they are a deep golden brown and very tender, about 30-45 minutes. The onions will probably stick to the bottom of the pan in some places, and smaller pieces may even brown so much as to look slightly burnt – don’t worry.
Add 1 cup of water to the pot to deglaze, rubbing any stuck-on bits off with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add in beef broth, thyme and season with pepper and additional salt, to taste.
Cover the pot and bring soup to a simmer. Turn heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes to help the flavors meld before serving.
Under the broiler, melt a piece of cheese onto a piece of toast for each bowl you will be serving. When cheese has melted, use a spatula to transfer toast to a bowl of soup and serve.
If you have oven-safe bowls, toast and cheese can be placed on top of the soup and the whole thing can be put under the broiler to melt cheese.
Serves 6-8, either as a main course or a first course.