Winning winter recipe

Winning winter recipe

Me making some onion soup. Note my skillfull stirring.

“I think that women just have a primeval instinct to make soup, which they will try to foist on anybody who looks like a likely candidate.” ~ Dylan Moran

I have become a prodigious cooker of onion soup this winter.

To be honest, it’s because I planned to make a pot for a dinner party once and ended up buying roughly a gazillion more onions that I needed. This is because I grocery shop like my mother: with plans to feed a small country instead of a few guests. It’s a bad habit, but luckily onions last forever and so I’ve been able to get quite a few batches out of that one mishandled shopping excursion.

The recipe follows after the jump.

This is a Jamie Oliver recipe. It’s incredibly simple, incredibly delicious and incredibly inoffensive to non-meat eaters (it’s vegetarian). Throw in a fresh ciabatta (Jamie – YES we’re on a first name basis – has this complicated cheesy bready thing he does, but I’m always scared the bowls will crack from the heat in the oven) and you’re set.


1.1 kg of assorted onions (including fancy things like leeks, red onions, shallots, and so on). Jamie’s list is:

onion soup
See how nice and sliced they are. There's no blending in this recipe so they really must look nice.
  • 5 red onions, peeled and sliced
  • 3 large white onions, peeled and sliced
  • 3 banana shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 300g leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 garlic cloves, sliced

2 litres good-quality hot beef, chicken or vegetable stock

Sage or thyme leaves. If you don’t have fresh, you can use dry. Fresh is much better though. In desperate times I have used a dried Italian herb mix.


  1. Slice the onions up. This is by far the worst part of the whole process and will definitely result in tears. It’s tedious, but hey, you can’t get onion soup without breaking a few onions.
  2. With a good glug of olive oil  and a knob of butter, slowly cook the onions. Throw in the garlic and herb leaves too. The slower the better, says Jamie, and damn that man knows his stuff. Keep the heat low – I’ve let my impatience interfere with the cooking process before, and it’s just better if you do it slowly. Keep the lid on and let them soften for a good 50 minutes (though quite honestly, I do this a lot faster). In the last few minutes, turn up the heat and brown the buggers.
  3. Add the stock and let the mixture simmer for like 15 minutes or so.
  4. Now is the complicated bread-cheese browning, which I never do. If you want to try it, read the original recipe. Just a sliced ciabbatta, rye loaf or french bread will do it for me.
  5. Serve to your lucky guests and be prepared to wallow in the sea of compliments and ‘mmm’ noises that follow.
She's overwhelmed by the flavour!

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