Happy days at the allotment recently when we plundered the first vegetables that were planted, the onion and garlic.
I can remember putting my onion and garlic sets in back in November when the allotment still resembled a council tip. We were optimistic, what with the forthcoming winter in store, but our onions and garlic survived quite spectacularly, producing fat vegetables that now hang proudly in our shed ready for the coming months.
I've noticed pungency and flavour in these onion and garlic like I have never tasted before. And for me, the ultimate of all recipes to show off our plucked beauties were in a classic French onion soup. I adore this soup so much and for some reason, it works in the hot months just as well as the cold. Maybe that is because it reminds me of lazy carefree summers in Brittany, but either way it is a soup that must be made and devoured.
A whole bulb of my deep purple garlic, roasted until sweet, just took the flavour levels up a notch and guaranteed a soup to banish any lingering cold bugs as well as the odd vampire. Served with simple toasted bread, rubbed with a clove of garlic and drizzled with olive oil, is all that is needed for that most majestic of onion celebrating dishes. Alternatively, if you want to be all traditional, top with a slice of crusty white bread, pile on grated Gruyere cheese and place under the grill until golden and melting.
Onion and Roast Garlic Soup
1 whole bulb of garlic
6 large fat onions, peeled, halved and sliced thin
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 tbsp flour
800ml hot beef stock (fresh or from cube)
Salt and pepper
1 - Pre-heat the oven to 200C/GM6. Place the whole unpeeled bulb of garlic into a square of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly. Place on a baking tray and roast for 1 hour until soft. Remove and allow to cool. Squash out the cloves onto a plate then mash with a fork. Set aside.
2 - In a large pan, heat up the butter with 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the onions and cook gently for 30-45 minutes, stirring regularly to help tease out the sugars and make it all golden and caramelised. You can add a teaspoon of sugar to help it along if time is against you.
3 - When caramelised, add the thyme and stir through. Stir in the flour and stir for 2 minutes.
4 - Add the hot beef stock and stir thoroughly. Stir in the mashed roasted garlic. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning then serve.