i have phil to thank for coming up with this meal the other night. he was craving french onion soup, but we decided to think about ways that we could adapt the recipe to be a) healthier and b) molly-friendly. the result was effortlessly tasty, without compromising much in terms of authenticity but also health!
the biggest differences come in the form of the cheese-topped “croutons” that float in the soup. traditionally, it would involve a lovely crusty piece of baguette, topped with gruyere cheese. the whole thing would sit in a hot oven for a few minutes before serving, allowing the cheese to melt. but because we don’t have any of those wonderful little clay pots that french onion soup is usually served in, i decided to make the cheesy toasts separately and sit them in our bowls of soup just before serving.
after coming away with some wonderful bits and pieces from the farmers market on saturday, i decided to roll with some goat’s brie (while phil opted for country cheddar). all of this was delightfully melted on some homemade spelt bread, lightly toasted. i’m in love with this spelt bread of ours. it’s such a simple recipe that works every time and never feels too heavy.
as far as the soup itself goes – it’s a bit of a hodgepodge. the onions vary from the large yellow variety, to a couple of small red ones, and a large shallot snuck its way in there too. some dried thyme (although i would’ve preferred fresh) and a generous glug of red wine created a beautiful soup that tastes so satisfying, you’d happily enjoy it for a main course. which we did.
french onion soup with spelt toast
2 tbsp goat’s butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 kg onions (whichever varieties you prefer), thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp thyme (either dried or fresh)
3 tbsp plain spelt flour
1 pint vegetable stock
1 cup red wine
4 slices honey spelt bread, toasted
4-5 slices of cheese (goat’s brie is delicious, but use whichever cheese you prefer)
in a large pot, melt the butter and the oil together, then add the onions and salt. cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, and just starting to color.
add the garlic, some freshly ground black pepper, and the thyme, stir, and cook for a minute or two.
add the flour and stir through, then pour in the vegetable stock and red wine. cover and allow to simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adjusting the seasoning at the end.
while the soup simmers, prepare the melted cheese on toast. preheat the grill or broiler, place the slices of toast on a foil-lined baking sheet, and layer the cheese on each slice. add some freshly ground black pepper to each, then grill for about 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and just starting to brown.
ladle the soup into bowls and top them with the cheesy toasts. serve hot.