Pete’s Food Corner: A taste of French Onion Soup

Peter Moody
Peter Moody

Pete Moody grew up in Delph and also lived in Diggle and Uppermill before going up to Lancaster to study English in 1996.

He taught himself to cook from the backs of cereal boxes, Chinese whispers and Youtube, deciding the long hours, crippling financial difficulty and a snooker-player complexion were preferable to a teaching career. He is currently starting up a restaurant in Shrewsbury.

SOME OF the best, funniest and most surreal things on this planet have happened by accident.

Take blue cheese, cling film, alcohol, Carla Bonner (other Neighbours stars unavailable). I could go on, so I will.

French onion soup, or Brown Windsor, as it is known over here around coronation time, is one of the greatest examples of someone in a tight spot thinking laterally to get themselves, or someone very nearby, off the hook.

It’s, arguably, a thin gravy made with slow-cooked, caramelised onions and beef stock but the process can easily be vegetarianised and is guaranteed to bring a tear (of joy) to your eye.

Onion confit, as it was undoubtedly called around the time someone forgot to make (or burned) that day’s soup in some steaming old Parisian sinkhole in days of yore, is used in all sorts of dishes but is, quite simply, a large number of onions thinly sliced and sweated in butter until a deep gold in colour.

Try it. Use 125g of butter though, and invite friends who don’t ask niggly questions.

It’s best to lightly melt the butter in a pan first then add the onions with a couple of bay leaves and cook, stirring often over a low, low heat, until they get sticky and browned.

Remove the bay leaves and add about 1.25l of beef stock and a glass of white wine.

I know you probably haven’t got veal shin consommé lying around in the freezer so pick your favourite cube or paste, a veggie one works just as well with a bit of yeast extract added for colour, and keep, almost mulling, with a lid half on, over a low flame for half an hour.

You can add more liquid if you think it needs it but just hot water.

Liechtenstein, Teflon, penicillin. Did I mention blue cheese? Melt blue cheese on toast for your soup crouton. Zut (as they say) alors!


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