Onion Soup with Cheddar Cheese

serves 4

The brother-in-law or, more accurately, his wife gave us a cook book (James Martin’s ‘My Kitchen’) for Christmas so I thought it was high time I actually got around to cooking something from it. I let the hubby choose, given he was going to be the guinea pig, and he picked the rather nice looking Onion Soup with Lincolnshire Poacher. Unfortunately it’s quite hard to get Lincolnshire Poacher in any normal shops, but apparently it’s quite like a rich cheddar, so I went for that instead. The best thing about it though was that it’s actually remarkably simple (apart from the chopping the onions section which was a full-scale battle).

Ingredients

Ingredients
25g (1 oz) butter
6 white onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
8g (1/3 oz) plain flour
175ml (6 floz) white wine
600ml (1 pint) chicken stock
200ml double cream
110g (4 oz) strong cheddar
20g chives, chopped
salt and black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and the garlic and simmer for 2 minutes (be careful not to let them brown).

Stir in the flour, then pour in the wine and stock. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer, leave for 6-8 minutes.

Add the cream, then puree in a blender. Return to the heat to re-warm. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve… ok, so why does the recipe need to specify bowls at this point? Would someone really try putting it on a plate? Sprinkle the cheese and chives over the top and serve with crusty bread (because it’s soup and therefore compulsory).

Onion Soup

I’m not sure which part of the cooking process makes it come out slightly out of focus, will have to experiment further next time.

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Lentil Soup

Cold and ferociously windy weather like this makes me scuttle indoors and long for an open fire. Definitely the sort of weather to curl up with a book and a bowl of hearty, warming lentil soup. It’s easy, it’s quick and it’s horribly healthy, but you don’t have to tell yourself that.

IngredientsI defrosted some of the stupendous stock I made at Christmas; it makes a big difference.

Ingredients

300g red lentils
3 pints chicken stock (strictly speaking mine is turkey..)
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 rashers smoked bacon, cut small
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbl oil (I use sunolive)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste (I used smoked salt, yum)
good grind of black pepper

Method

1. Put the chopped up bacon in a large saucepan and cook for a while, until the fat starts to come out of it.
2. Add the oil and the chopped onion, carrot and celery and fry together until the onion goes translucent.
3. Add in the garlic, spices and lentils and stir til well mixed; then add the stock and bring to a boil.
4. Test for seasoning! Now’s the time to add some more salt if required, but it depends on your stock.
5. Once boiling, turn down the heat to lowest and simmer for about half an hour, or until the lentils are soft and start to fall apart.
6. Give it a good stir around. (When I came back to the pan there was an intimidating heap of lentils like a volcano in the middle. It was only an illusion; they collapsed into a thick soupy mass on vigorous application of a wooden spoon.)
7. Apply a stick blender until it’s the consistency you want.
8. Serve with a chunk of crusty bread on a cold day! Makes enough for 6 – 8.