It’s all well and good being on top of a mountain when it comes to grape growing, but when the wind is howling and the rain pelts down at such an angle that it actually “rains” under your front door and through the closed windows – emergency measures in the kitchen are called for. There’s nothing quite as consoling and warming as a steaming bowl of French onion soup.
This is the time to brave it onto the back verandah and snip down a plait of home-grown onions, grab a bottle of Chardonnay and get down to business.
CLASSIC FRENCH ONION SOUP
2Tablespoons sunflower oil
1 kg onions, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
30g smoked bacon
30g white flour
1,5 litres chicken stock- homemade if possible.
Salt and pepper
6-8 slices of country style white loaf, lightly toasted
Grated gruyere cheese
1. Place a large thick bottomed casserole pot (Le Crueset is always good) on the stove and heat till very hot. Add the oil and then the butter. To the smoking oil, add the sliced onions, garlic and bacon. Cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes until the onions are soft and golden brown.
2.Add the brandy and allow to burn off. Then add the wine and reduce the liquid by half, stirring constantly. Stir in the flour, then pour over the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, and skim if necessary. Turn down the heat and simmer for about half an hour.
3. To make the croutons, lightly toast the bread, sprinkle with the grated Gruyere and grill for a few minutes until the cheese starts to melt.
4. Season the soup with salt and pepper if necessary. Place a toasted cheese in each warmed bowl and ladle the hot soup over.
This is a fantastic thing to come home to at lunchtime on a wet and miserable day. Andrew would probably opt for Iona Chardonnay, whilst a glass of Iona Pinot Noir would do the trick for me.