Friday, 6 August 2010

French Onion Soup, Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

These are the first two recipes in Jocasta Innes's The Pauper's Cookbook. Nobody makes them any more! French onion soup was big in the 80s, when a lot of people opened French onion soup bars (did they come before or after Belgian crepes?).

1 quart basic stock
4 large or 6 small onions
knob of butter
1/4 lb grated cheddar
4 slices toast
salt and pepper

Slice onions thickly, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and fry onions over moderate heat until golden brown - not burnt. Stir from time to time to prevent them sticking. Pour in stock and bring to boil. Simmer for 1/2-3/4 hour, covered. Taste and add salt and pepper. Toast four thick slices of bread. Grate cheese. Serve in individual bowls. Float a slice of toast on each serving and sprinkle generously with grated cheese.

Artichoke Soup
These are the Jerusalem artichokes, which look like small knobbly potatoes, not the leafy globe variety. Artichokes have a pronounced, though delicate flavour, which makes a particularly good soup.

1 lb Jerusalem artichokes, 1 oz butter, 1 1/2 pints water and 1 bouiloon cube or stock, a little cream or top of milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg

Peel the artichokes, slice them and heat them gently in the butter for a few minutes. Add water and bouillon cube, or basic stock, to cover by about an inch, also salt, pepepr and nutmeg, and simmer gently until tender - 45 minutes-1 hour. Sieve, return to pan and add a little cream or top of milk, or plain milk and butter.

Before all milk was homogenised, the cream used to float to the top - that's what "top of the milk" is. If you can find artichokes, they are a bore to peel. They may have a "delicate flavour", but they are, er... carminative. It's due to the inulin they contain, apparently. (And no, that's not a typo for insulin.)

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