Wednesday, 5 May 2010

English Onion Soup with Giant Cheddar Cheese Crouton and Sage

This is my kind of starter.. Make in advance and warm up when required. It is simply packed with flavour and highlights the work horse of the kitchen the humble Onion!


4 White Onions
4 Red Onions
6 Shallots
2 Leeks
4 or so Spring Onions (if available)
Olive Oil (Rapeseed Oil is even better!)
Tbsp Butter
Maldon Salt
Black Pepper
Small Glass of White Wine
2 Litres Chicken Stock
250g Extra Mature Cheddar
Small Loaf of Bread (Wholegrain or Country Loaf)
Worcestershire Sauce

From the Garden:

Bunch of Sage Leaves (Green, Purple and Varigated)
Small Bunch of Thyme
Small Bunch of Garlic Chives

I made this for 7, but obviously it depends on the size of your bowls and how generous you are going to be with the soup!

Any onions will work, just get a variety and get the best of everything!

OK, you’ll need a substantial high sided pan that is big enough to hold the soup and is good to fry in – get it on the stove with a medium heat under it.
Pour in a really healthy glug of Olive Oil and add a Tbsp of Butter, this is going to be the oil for all of the frying so lets add some flavours to it now. As the oil is heating up select 16 or so of the Sage Leaves – get a mix of colours (obviously it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got different colours of Sage). When the oil is hot place these selected leaves in the oil to deep fry, they won’t take long, so when they appear to be cooked remove from the oil and place in a piece of kitchen roll to drain.

Now prepare your onions, peel and slice all of the onions except the Spring Onions and then add them to the hot oil. Chop your Thyme and the remaining Sage leaves and also add them to the Onions with a good pinch if Salt and a fresh grinding of Pepper.

Now you want to cook the onions for a long time but without colouring them. So cover the onions with a lid and leave on a medium heat but stirring occasionally and making sure that the onions do not catch – this will take 30 minutes or so.

Remove the lid and add the chopped leeks, then cook for another twenty minutes or so.

When the time has passed check your onions for flavour, you want them to be sweet, I mean really sweet. If they aren’t return them to a low heat and cook for a little longer. Once you are happy turn the heat right up and add the wine, reduce the wine by half and then add the stock. Cook for 5 minutes or so and then check your seasoning. Sometimes you’ll need to add a small amount of Worcestershire at this point, sometimes not it depends on the flavour of the onions and how that sweetness developed in the pan.

So, that’s it!! Done! The soup can now be allowed to cool and then re-heated when required. Making the giant croutons is so easy..

Cut thick slices of bread from the loaf, cut them on the slant and then in half. Place on a tray and toast one side. Turn the bread over so the uncooked side is up and then cover in chopped Garlic Chives, then grate your Cheddar over the top – generously!! Cover until ready, these can put under the grill when required.

When serving make sure the soup is piping hot and the cheese on the crouton is bubbling. Place two croutons on the soup and the garnish with chopped Spring Onions and the reserved Crispy Sage leaves.

This soup is delicious!! Cheese and Onion with the contrasting flavour of Sage running through the whole soup, on top of all of that it is also conveniently convenient for dinner parties!

English Onion soup with giant Cheesy croutons, delicious!

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