I’m in a seasonal limbo at the moment. It’s pretty disconcerting for me, especially when I’m trying to figure out what to wear.
During the winter I fall into the habit of just layering everything up. Leggings + tights all week long (because I am a triangle and thus never wear jeans) with various dresses, skirts and jumpers. Plus I wear my winter coat 24/7 – it provides the added bonus of pockets for me to carry my phone/lip balm/oyster card/ID/money/bike keys without needing some annoying tiny bag to carry around with me.
So when it’s spring I actually have to try and remember what it’s like to not layer so much anymore. Granted, I have been inside revising for the past 2 weeks so yoga pants and over-sized t-shirts have been my ‘uniform’ of choice.
The revision-seclusion isn’t helping things because as soon as I know it, 3 days have passed, I literally haven’t been outside and all I can think about is differentiation, sliding filament theory and production of azo-dyes.
What I’m trying to get at here is that I’m awful at seasonal adaptation and my brain is scrambled, which is why I’m posting a recipe for French Onion Soup – which I feel is a decidedly wintery dish – in April.
The recipe is from a newly released cookbook (published by my lovely publishers at Hardie Grant) called Three Sisters Bake. It’s a beautifully shot book with 90+ comforting yet innovative recipes, all of which look pretty simple to make. There’s even a whole chapter on salads which I’m looking forward to taking advantage of later on in the year!
The book was written by three sisters (nah Izy, you don’t say) who own and run a café in the Scottish countryside. I’m kind of dying to try out the tattie scone recipe next – a component of their most popular dish on the menu – it’s a mashed potato based griddle scone that you serve for brunch with poached eggs. Uh, yessss pleaseeee.
(I think I know what I’m having for breakfast ASAP).
It was pretty tough to choose a recipe to make. I think you can understand that I really did want to make this soup based on the fact that a) French onion soup is…erm…not an easy thing to photograph yet I still went ahead and made it, b) there’s mini grilled cheese involved – anything mini and I’m game and c) it is a seasonally inappropriate dish yet HELLO SOUP POST, haha.
I know that seasons are not globally identical so I’m hoping for someone reading, it’s cold out and soup sounds like the right kind of thing to be making – because if so, you won’t regret making this. It’s rich and packed with flavour from the caramelised onions, with a crispy, gooey side of Gruyère toasties – utter perfection.
– This recipe comes from the Three Sisters Bake cookbook (found on page 76)
– I used wholegrain toast for the toastie because I’ve told you I’m obsessed with that bread before
– I used my favourite technique for caramelising onions (from the NY times) instead of the standard way, because it takes less time to cook them. You may need to caramelise them in two batches because of the sheer volume of onion in this recipe.
- 6 white onions, , sliced very thinly (with a knife/mandoline/food processor)
- 25 g (1 oz) salted butter
- 4 garlic cloves, , minced
- 350 ml (12 fl oz) red wine
- 850 ml (1 1/2 pints) hot, good-quality beef stock
- 30 ml (2 tbsp) brandy
- 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, , to taste
For the Mini Gruyere Toasties:
- 2 slices of white bread, (see notes)
- a knob of butter, , for spreading + frying
- 50 g (2 oz) Gruyère cheese, thickly sliced
- In a large, dry frying pan, sauté the onions on a medium heat until browned. Add the butter and continue to cook until they become a deep brown colour. Add the garlic and continue to stir for 3 minutes. Transfer the caramelised onions to a large heavy-based pan with the wine, hot stock, brandy and balsamic - heat on medium and bring to a simmer. Leave to simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.
- Rinse and wipe the frying pan clean - now you can use it for the toasties!
- Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place the Gruyère cheese slices on the non-buttered side of one of the slices. Make a sandwich by placing the other non-buttered side on-top of the cheese, leaving the two buttered sides of the bread facing out.
- Fry the Gruyère sandwich for about 5 minutes over a medium-high heat in the frying pan, until the underside is golden. Flip and fry the other side. If the cheese hasn't melted, turn the heat down and continue to fry until the cheese starts to ooze out of the sandwich (being careful not to burn the bread).
- Cut the crusts off of the Gruyère toastie then cut it diagonally into quarters.
- Remove the soup from the heat, season to taste and ladle into heatproof bowls. Serve the Gruyère toasties warm with the soup.