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A soup from where they know about romance

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In the spirit of showcasing a seasonal recipe, I thought it better to skip to Valentine’s Day, as everyone must be bored with all the groundhog recipes from the past weekend.

Any homemade soup will already warm your heart (and stomach), but not only is this one red in colour (the colour of hearts in love) but is also French in origin.

France is of course famous for great cuisine but is also known to be in the company of Spain and Italy for being the top three countries for lovers!

In North America we make “French Onion Soup,” but in France they just call it “onion soup.” The Canadian/American version is typically made with onions,  red wine and beef stock.

The “real” French version is a little more interesting, however.

The Provençal area of France is towards the south, along the Italian border and extending onto the Riviera and was one of the first provinces of the Roman empire. The cuisine of this area is based more around fresh fruits and vegetables that grow there, artisan cheeses and, of course, fresh seafood, than the Parisian high butter and cream.

A Provençal recipe often contains things like fresh tomatoes, herbs and garlic.

Provençal herbs are typically a variety of things like rosemary, oregano, marjoram, thyme but with the uniqueness of lavender to round it off.

The secret of any onion soup is the patience in cooking the onions to a deep amber colour which not only creates the colour for the whole broth, but also mellows and sweetens the typical harshness of the raw onion.

Provençal Onion Soup

  • 2 lb onions, sliced
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 bundle leeks
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1 can whole tomatoes
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp. molasses
  • Salt, cracked pepper, Provençal herbs, nutmeg
  • 1 baguette
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 lb butter
  • Emmental de Savoie cheese
  • Parsley to garnish

Heat soup pot, add oil and continue to heat until oil starts moving.

Add onions, sear and continue stirring until browned all over.

Add carrots, leeks, seasoning and cook for additional 2 minutes.

Add sherry and other liquids and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook until tender.

Slice bread, 1/2-inch thick, spread with garlic butter and toast in 425 F oven until slightly dried and browning slightly around edges.

Cover with cheese and return to oven until melted and bubbly.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with cheese croutons.

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