Tag Archives: onions

Light golden onion soup for after-party supper!

I always love old classics and this is a favourite of “Bistro cooking”, the sort of no-fuss, hearty and comforting cooking you might find in a true Parisian Bistrot. I know there are less and less of those haunts in Paris nowadays but they are worth seeking out. This soup reminds me of late night suppers after a play or a dance in Paris… It was a perfect student days pick-me up and it was served at my own wedding to give strength to the dancers around midnight – with this, most of us managed to last until 6am on the dance-floor!

Ingredients list:

(This serves about four bowls. You can easily freeze it too if you are doing it for yourselves.)

  • Roscof onions, 5 to 6 ( a lovely pink onion from Brittany)
  • Garlic cloves, 2
  • Ghee or butter, 2 Tbsp
  • Grape or date syrup, 2 Tbsp
  • Chicken stock cube, 1
  • Bay leaf and “bouquet garni” to flavour
  • Water, 500 ml
  • Cider, 200 ml

Peel the onions and garlic and chop it all together in a food processor- this will save lots of tears!
Melt the onions in a large saucepan with the ghee or butter. Leave to melt on low heat for about 20 minutes, watching closedly in order to avoid burning the bottom.
Add two spoonfuls of grape or date syrup – a little fruit sugar is needed to counteract the bitterness of the onions. I use grape molasse for its lovely spicy taste. I source it from Middle Eastern shops.
Add the chicken stock (made of one cube and 500ml water) and the bay leaves and bouquet garni. If you prefer, replace with a bunch of thyme and tarragon.
Herbs should play a big role in our spring cooking: they give it seasonal flavour, awaken the senses and have anti-viral properties.
Reduce and simmer for another 30 minutes.
The soup should be thick and golden. Add salt and pepper to taste, just before serving.

Beautiful Roscoff pink onions

Beautiful Roscoff pink onions

I serve this with a thick brown toast, brushed with garlic and spread with olive oil. It is also nice with melted cheese on toast. Dip in and enjoy!
This is health in a bowl. A perfect Friday supper after a couple of drinks down the pub! Onion soup is strengthening and good for recovery; the reason it is usually served at midnight during late parties in France is because it clears the head and gives you a nice boost before heading home…

Red onion, chilli and raisins marmalade

June is a month for preserves, jams and chutneys: If you get a glut of any produce from market or allotment, this is when you should prepare this winter’s preserves. They will have a few months to settle and expand in colour and perfume, before they become wanted, ready to grace your winter table.

This savoury marmalade is a cross between a chutney and the lush “confiture d’onions” that we serve at home with a couscous. It goes very well with red meat or mature cheeses and today I am having it with an expansive Epoisse that would be stinking anything else out of my plate! It is also divine on the Godminster cheddar that I have discovered at Christmas and can’t get enough of…

Ingredients list:

  • Red onions, 6
  • Olive oil
  • Butter 50g
  • Sea salt
  • Balsamic vinegar, 3 Tbsp
  • Soft brown sugar, 1 Tbsp
  • Raisins, 100g
  • Half a seeded chilli pepper
  • cinnamon stick
  • 4 spices or all-spices mix, 1 tsp

Slice the onions finely with a mandoline. This makes finer slices and because it is quicker, I cry less! This is my least favourite bit…

Melt the butter in some olive oil and add the onions. Cook until soft or about 30min. Turning with a spoon and keeping close watch!

Add the vinegar and the sugar, sea salt and some finely chopped chilli. Trust your instinct and your taste buds: Less is more.  Add the cinnamon and spices. Let it bubble under cover over low heat for 45 min until most of the liquid has evaporated- but adding water if it gets too dry. You want a sticky, jammy mixture.

Soak the raisins in hot water then drain and add a good handful towards the end.

Spoon the marmalade into clean jars where it will keep for a few months, in the fridge. Don’t forget to remove the cinnamon stick.

I use this on cold meat, cheese and even in cheese sandwiches or with boiled eggs. It keeps well in the fridge but probably not as long as a shop-bought chutney. If you make too much of it, you can always put it into nice jars and bring it to dinner parties as gift.

Savoury cheesecake with red onion topping

This recipe came about because I love cheesecake bases – these crumbly and rich pastry made out of biscuits- and I wanted to create a savoury version.

Here it is! And the beauty of it is that it can be declined with plenty of different fillings: onions, spinach, pumpkin, you name it… The limit is your imagination.

Ingredients list:

For the base

  • Oat cakes 300g (I chose the Fine Cheese Co ones for their butter content)
  • Olive oil, 2 Tbsp
  • Parmesan, 10g
  • Pinch of black pepper (the Fine Chesse Co has pepper in it already but some don’t)
Crumble and mix: you can use a food processor or your hands for that but keep mixing until you get to a crumbly but holding texture. Add a drop of water if it feels too much like sand! Do get nice, “artisan” oatcakes, preferably without palm oil (do google the reasons why); I also love the Patterson oatcakes with olive oil.
For the filling
  • Red onions, 6
  • Egg,1
  • crème fraîche, 50ml
  • Olive oil, 1 Tbsp
  • Balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp
  • Mascarpone, 50g
  • Drizzle of rice syrup or agave
Slice the onions finely (I hate doing that and I’ll bribe husband or kids to do it for me- what is the point of family otherwise?…).
Let them melt on low heat with the oil until soft. Cover the pan but watch it carefully.
Towards the end, splash in the vinegar and a drizzle of rice syrup – if you do not like “sweet and sour” touches do not fret as usually the onions are sweet enough.
Pat the crumbly base into a cake tin – best to choose one with removable bottom. You just want a thick enough layer at the base, do not worry about building up sides. Too tricky… My philosophy is to keep it simple and enjoyable.
Put it in the oven at 170° for 10 minutes until slightly golden.
Mix the onion jam in a large bowl with the beaten egg, cream and mascarpone.
Take the base out of the oven and pour the filling inside the tin.
Put back in the oven for 20 min.
Serve with a big leafy salad.

PS: I also made recently a version with freshly steamed spinach that my son loved a lot better- not being such a fan of onions…

Golden onion jam for Spring roasts


I love jams and preserves for their quaint charm and pure indulgence and this is perfect to complement the new lamb, new veal and new everything that comes with Spring!

Ingredients list:

Butter 40g
Onions 3
Sugar 4 Tbsp
Cinnamon 1tsp
Salt and pepper, one pinch of each

Chop the onion finely in a food processor: just peel and chuck in and rejoice because of no tears! Result!
Melt the butter and add the onion puree.
Cook in a small pan on low heat until soft and brownish.
Then add the spices and seasoning.

I keep this in a clean jar for a few weeks in the fridge and warm it up (or not) to eat over a joint of lamb or some duck legs. You can replace the butter with rapeseed oil if you want – but I do love butter! It’s got good vitamins too…

Orchid display in Kew

Golden Onion and cider soup with roquefort toast for Book Night


When was the last time I saw dawn break over the last pages of a book?!…

A year ago, I posted about the pile of books I keep by my bedside and today, in advance of World book night , I would like to go through my list -I LOVE lists- and then give you a  great onion soup recipe to go with  your all-night reading spree ! 
I remember going through the night with a book for the first time aged 14 and seeing the first flashes of light coming below the shutters at about 4pm… Great feeling! Later, I remember the nights after exams when we danced till dawn and that’s pretty good too… That’s when you need the onion soup at midnight to keep you going. 
I have a large mahogany butler’s tray by my bed and this is what’s on it today:
  • A large diary where I keep all the funny stories about the children – I’m on volume 4!
  • The Children’s Book by A.S Byatt – love the style but not sure about the story
  • Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass destruction by Sue townsend – my teenage nostalgia author! Lots of giggles in promised book form.
  • A huge hairy spider I have adopted since Halloween – don’t ask me why!
  • A small stuffed beaver from my father’s old university, gifted by him
  • Through the language glass, why the world looks different in other languages by Guy Deutscher
  • A book of poems by Don Paterson- Rain – because I love reading his poetry
  • Portrait du soleil by Helene Cixou – more of a painting than a book but I keep looking
  • A lovely cookery book called Délices et coeurs brûlé, food diary of Miss K- designed like a love letter and full of crazy French recipes. The sort of book you want to give all your girlfriends!
  • Some foot cream and a couple of favourite, quirky postcards for inspiration…
  • Ah, and also a picture of my newest little niece sleeping slouched over my shoulder…
Looking at this helps me get up in the morning and calms me down at night – so I never need to pop a pill! I want to hear YOUR list now, by the end of the month please, and the best and most personal will win a box of homemade shortbread. Yippii!
Now for the onion soup recipe I promised:
Ingredients list:
Cider 1 large glass
Onions, 3 large diced
Chicken stock, 1 litre (or a quick version with Maggi cubes)
Thyme and parsley 1 Tbsp of dry mix
Creme fraiche
Big knob of butter 
Olive oil 1Tbsp
Slices of wholemeal bread
Some roquefort cheese
Salt and black pepper to taste
Brown the chopped onions in a mix of olive oil and butter in a thick bottomed pan until they get see-through. Add the stock and the herbs and seasoning. 
Let it bubble away for a good 30 min., adding a bit of cider towards the end. 
Stir in the creme fraiche and check the seasoning: a good onion soup shall not be bland!
Blitz with a hand held blender but only a few seconds so it remains chunky and rustic in aspect.
Spread some thick toasts with the Roquefort – thinly so as not to overpower the sweetness of the onions.
Transfer in large oven-proof bowls, top with the cheese toast and put under the grill for a few minutes to brown.
Serve in the pipping hot bowls  and enjoy a truly French treat!
In France, onion soup is served to wedding guests at midnight to keep them warm and awake. 
It tastes really good after you’ve been dancing or reading until exhaustion, take my word for it.
 Kenza and Valerie, get your dancing shoes ready my darlings!

Happy reading tonight and let me know if you see dawn break?!