Food from the Hill

A London food fanatic, living on Telegraph Hill

Onion and Brandy Soup


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Onion and Brandy Soup

This soup was made for myself and a friend one Sunday afternoon when there was a surplus of onions left over in the veg box …

Ingredients to make enough to serve 2 hungry people:

  • 2 large white onions, finely sliced
  • 1 leek, cut into 3 inch pieces, then finely sliced length ways
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves (you could use dried thyme instead – my thyme was a little past it’s best and practically dried anyway!)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brandy (I used a 10 year old cider brandy that I found lingering at the back of my cupboard)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon plain flour
  • 1 litre of very good beef stock
  • Salt and pepper to season (I found that the soup in this instance did not need any extra seasoning)

Now put the apron on and start by …

  1. Getting out a saucepan and adding  the oil, onions, leeks, thyme, salt and sugar.  Fry on a very gentle heat, stirring for a few minutes.
  2. Make a cartouche by cutting a round piece of grease proof paper, slightly larger than your saucepan. Run under the tap and scrunch into a ball.  Unfold and use this to cover your onion mix in the pan.  The paper should sit on top of the onion.
  3. Caramelise the onions very slowly on a low heat for 40 minutes, until very soft.  Check every 10 minutes and if you think the pan is too dry, add in a tablespoon of the beef stock to add some liquid.
  4. After 40 minutes, increase the heat to a high heat and add the Brandy.  Cook on a high heat for 1 minute to evaporate off some of the alcohol.
  5. Stir in the flour and cook on a medium heat for 1 minute.
  6. Increase the heat to full and add the beef stock and stir until the soup boils.
  7. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes.
  8. Check the seasoning, just in case!
  9. Serve with toasted french bread and melted Gruyere if you’re after a french style soup.
  10. This soup goes wonderfully with a cold crisp glass of Champagne.

Tuck in and enjoy!

Champagne Risotto


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Champagne Risotto

There is something very decadent and romantic about Champagne Risotto

Ingredients to make enough to serve 2 moderately hungry people:

  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • 1/3 stick of celery, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 135g Arborio risotto rice
  • 225ml champagne / extra dry cava
  • 500ml very good chicken stock
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 1 handful of chopped herbs – optional (parsley, basil, tarragon are good).

Now put the apron on and start by …

  1. Melting 25g unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and celery and fry until soft and translucent. Stir in a tiny amount of garlic.  I prefer the main aromatic flavour here to be onion and celery, so go easy on the garlic.
  3. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute until all of the grains are coated and shining with butter.
  4. Add 225ml Champagne and simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated, stirring often.
  5. In a separate pan, have your chicken stock simmering, with a small ladle at the ready.
  6. Add the chicken stock ladle by ladle, waiting until each ladle full has almost been fully absorbed before adding another ladleful. It will take around 18 minutes to cook the whole dish, or until the rice is tender but still firm, stirring often.  You may not need all of the stock.
  7. Turn off the heat, stir in 50g freshly grated Parmesan and a knob of butter and put the lid on and leave for 1 minute.
  8. Season to taste and fold in a handful of freshly chopped herbs (parsley, basil, tarragon are good).

Notes:

  • Risotto should be served with a ‘wave’, i.e. it should not be a solid lump on the plate, but ooze to the edge of the dish, without being too runny at the same time!
  • Risotto should always be cooked over a medium heat, a too high heat will cook the outside of the rice grains too quickly and the inside will remain hard and at the same time, a too low heat will leave you with soggy rice.

Tuck in and enjoy!