I know what you are thinking… “Matt on Twitter you promised a blog post about food photography, and then you go and show up with some lousy onion soup….”.
Well, time is in short supply in the Wrightfood household, we have work deadlines, a small party to cook for this weekend, so the big long blog post about food photography is going to have to wait till next week. Go on, go cry into your onion soup…
I picked up a blooming great bunch of just the best spring onions I have seen in a while at the market recently, and was wondering what to do with them for almost a week. Seems almost wrong to fry them up with bacon (there goes my readership.. I dissed bacon), I wanted a more delicate presentation that really showed the subtlety of new season onions. Danika has also been on at me to make more soups.
Well, it is kind of a no brainer then.
I didn’t want to go down the classic French onion soup route though. Not that there is anything wrong with that, if Le Pichet is serving it, I am eating it. I wanted to do something a little bit different, and certainly lighter, and again something that lets the onion be just that.
Walking around the farmers market just this weekend with our little 2 year old, I stopped in at Found & Foraged, and to my delight they had Sorrel. Not just your regular cultivated French sorrel, but these small perfectly delicate leaves of wild wood sorrel. The two year old wanted a taste, got the nod from the stallholder, and we took a taste. Ohhh so fantastic. The leaf just gently melts in your mouth giving a slightly bitter, acidic, almost citrus taste. It then hit me… That would just be perfect sitting on top of an onion soup – the bitterness would work just wonderfully against the sweetness of cooked onions.
1 bag sold to the bloke with an English accent, and a two year old trying to yank out more sorrel from the samples box.
The French have often added sorrel to soups, and there are plenty of soups out there where sorrel is the main star. The leaves are delicate, and mix into soup particularly well. The only problem you have to deal with is that the leaves oxidise (go brown) really quickly in hot liquid. So, you have three options in my mind – serve the soup warm but not scorching, down the soup bloody quickly, or just plain deal with the leaves turning brown (but still tasting great). In the end I went for a little of all three..
Sherry is also a classic addition to an onion soup, and quite frankly I never like to shy too far away from booze in my brothy soups. The sherry here gives a wonderful richness, almost fortification to the soup, without being too overpowering. Just make sure to use a dry sherry, otherwise the soup is going to end up being too sweet.
The soup is incredibly simple. The base is just a quick vegetable stock made from simmering some herbs and veg in water, all whilst we are slowly cooking down the sliced spring onions. The broth is strained into the onions, seasoned well, and left to bubble away for a bit. Splosh in the sherry, and boil to cut out some alcohol. This then just simply gets spooned into a bowl, and topped with the wild sorrel. What came out was a surprisingly delicate, simple, light soup – just perfect for the rather ridiculously dull Seattle weather we are having right now.
Spring Onion soup with sherry and wild sorrel recipe
5 spring onions
3 tablespoons of butter
1 glass of dry sherry
2 handfuls of wild sorrel (or garden sorrel slightly chopped up)
for the broth:
1 medium onion
1 small leek
1 celery stalk
2 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
4 parlsey sprigs
10 black peppercorns
a little salt
5 cups of water
roughly chop the vegetables for the stock. Put them in a large pot, along with everything else for the stock. Bring to the boil, and simmer for about 30minutes.
Whilst the broth is simmering, slice the bulbs of the onions, saving the tops for another use. In another large saucepan melt a couple of tablespoons of butter. Add the onions in, and gently cook them for about 20 minutes, until tender, but not browned. Add more butter if it all looks a bit dry.
Strain the broth through a fine sieve into the pan with onions in. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Simmer this for a further 20 minutes.
Pour in a good glug of sherry into the soup. Bring to the boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, and give it a taste. Add more booze if you think it could use it. Adjust seasoning if required.
Once ready, turn off the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly. Ladle into bowls, and right before serving top with a small handful of the sorrel.
Serve with crusty bread, if that is your thing.