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MasterChef New Zealand

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MasterClass - French Onion Soup


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French Onion Soup
Recipe by Simon Gault
Serves 6


WINE MATCH: HUNTAWAY RESERVE CHARDONNAY

Onion Soup
1.5kg brown onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp Lupi olive oil
1 tbsp Mainland butter
4 bay leaves
1 tsp black peppercorns
1200ml dry Riesling
2L Campbells Real beef stock
3 tbsp vegetable stock powder
Salt
White pepper
60ml cognac

6 tbsp Mainland butter, slightly softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 500g cob-style sourdough loaves
200g Mainland gruyere cheese, grated
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

Toasted walnuts (optional)

1. To make the onion soup, place a large, heavy based saucepan over medium-high heat with the Lupi olive oil and Mainland butter, add the onions, bay leaves and peppercorns. Sauté the onions until they start to start to caramelise and turn a dark brown colour; this will take about 1 hour.
2. Add the wine, Campbells Real beef stock and vegetable stock powder and simmer until a soup like consistency is achieved; approximately 1 hour. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. To prepare the bread, mix together the Mainland butter and garlic and set aside. Cut a 2cm slice off the top of each cob loaf to form a lid. Use a spoon to hollow out the centre of each loaf to form a 'soup bowl', careful not to puncture the walls of the loaf. Brush the inside of each loaf with garlic butter.
4. To assemble, preheat the oven to 180°C. Reheat the soup and add the cognac. Place the hollowed out loaves and the lids in the oven for a few minutes until lightly toasted and crisp. Place the toasted loaves in warmed serving dishes and fill with the soup. Top with Mainland gruyere cheese, then carefully place the bowls under the grill until the cheese melts and turns golden brown. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and grated walnut (if using) and serve with bread lids on the side.

Tips
1. Caramelising onions involves cooking onions very slowly until the sugar in the onions melts and very nearly burns, turning brown in the process.
2. While caramelisation can be achieved in 30 minutes, I prefer to allow at least 1 full hour of cooking to bring out the complex flavours.
3. Mainland gruyere cheese is the classic topping for French onion soup and it has a sweet, nutty flavour. If it is not to your taste, it can be substituted with other cheeses; try mozzarella or parmesan.
4. To make a vegetarian version, swap the Campbells Real beef stock for vegetable stock and for a vegan twist, use vegan cheese
5. Adding a little salt while sautéing the onions helps to draw out the moisture and sugars from the onions.




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