It's that time of year again. Here in the gloomy streets of London the nights are drawing in, and a sniff of woodsmoke is in the air. Before we know it, Bonfire Night, and Hallowe'en will be upon us. And what better than a warming onion soup laced with cider?
Here's how you make it. First, you need to understand that onions need a great deal of cooking before they become palatable. I don't care what your cookery books say, you will have to trust me on this. You need to slice some onions. Throw a few knobs of unsalted butter into a pan. Now cook the onions. It's probably better if you've sliced them thinly.
Add some thyme. I'm lucky enough to have a vigorous plant thriving on my kitchen windowsill. Let the onions cook well, until they are soft, but not burnt or brown. So you will want to use a low heat. Now stir in some flour and let that cook.
Pour in a good slug (I love that word) of cider. I used a dryish West Country Organic Cider that I found in a local shop. At this stage it's important to let the cider bubble- to boil off the alcohol. Okay, we all love a good dram of whisky at the right moment, but I find that alcohol needs to be boiled off in cooking- otherwise you are left with a nasty bitter taste.
Now add some stock (chicken or vegetable is fine, home-made or reduced-salt Marigold Bouillon powder would be ideal). Cook the soup on a low heat look mad. Mine took over an hour before the onions were cooked properly.
When that's done, lower the heat and add a dollop of single cream, though double cream is likely to curdle. If you are using single cream and you don't lower the heat, you run the risk of the soup curdling. Season with a decent salt and ground chunky black pepper to taste. That's it. And if it's cooked properly it's surprisingly subtle and smooth.