Not Your Classic French Onion Soup
A lot of the time, winter soups begin to feel a bit same-same. We wanted to find more unique offerings lately when I came across onion and cider soup. It’s a slightly different take on the classic French onion soup, and as a cider fan, I immediately fell in love.
This recipe is seasonal because it uses apples (often from the back garden), which are mid-season in December, and onions and potatoes that we grow and store. It’s fantastic for the colder months.
Our take on this onion soup recipe uses more cider (oops), fresh apples, and a loaf of tiger bread. I also left out the chicken stock so this would be completely vegetarian.
115g (4oz) butter
1.5kg (3lb 5oz) onions, very finely sliced
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
250ml (9fl oz) cider
1.2 litres (2 pints) of chicken or vegetable stock
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme sprigs
8 rounds of toasted bread
1 Camembert, crème fraîche or Crumbly goat’s cheese works too
15g (1/2oz) butter, melted
1. Melt the butter on medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add onions. Sauté them gently, turning them around in the butter, until they soften. Add a splash of water, stir, cover with a lid and sweat the onions until they are very soft and starting to caramelize. This can take up to 50 minutes. You must add a splash of water every so often and turn the onions over in the buttery juices to keep it at a simmer. Make sure to stir them so they don’t boil.
2. Take the lid off and turn the heat to medium heat so the juices can evaporate and the onions caramelize. I often add the sugar after a while if it is not caramelizing well, but sometimes, if the onions have a lot of sugar, you don’t need to.
3. When the onions are dark, add cider, vegetable stock, and thyme, and boil. Simmer for 10 minutes to make the stock.
4. Ladle the hot soup into eight heavy bowls which won’t crack under high heat. Put a round or two of toast on each bowl of onion soup, and we also like apple matchsticks with our soup. Cut the Camembert into slices and lay them on top. Brush with melted butter and heat under the grill until golden and bubbling.
You could add crème fraîche to thicken the soup or even add a little garlic, just remember not to overpower everyone with the onion and garlic taste. We like a sprig of thyme always goes down well.