Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Onion Soup with Noodles

It's probably best to confess straight off that I'm not a big fan of soups. I like them more than I like salads, but overall, those are the two categories of food that are not high on my approval-ladder. This is probably because salads were largely non-existant in my childhood diet*, and soups were a wicked foreign invention of root vegetables boiled in water. My grandmother could supposedly make delicious soups, but her illness kept her out of the kitchen and confined to the bed for as long as I can remember, so my prejudice against soups grew unchallenged.
*apart from the delicious cucumber, onion, tomato in salty lime juice dressing.

Till, that is, I moved to the US. And discovered vital things (like sour cream and buillion and fresh sprigs of parsley) that pushes soup well beyond the "edible" boundary, and reasonably far into "delicious" territory. My first reaction to soup is still "Noooo!", but since I'm no longer five, I stride right past it and arrive reluctantly but hopefully at, "Well maybe just this once".

So, onion soup. Definitely one of the simpler soups, and one that DOESN'T call for cream. Why, then, do I like it? I like it because I like saut├ęd onions cooked in broth. And that's pretty much what this is. This version was made at 5AM on a winter's morning, after a night of working, and reworking, and re-reworking a proposal in an endless loop. By the time I gratefully clicked 'save' and 'close', I was famished. And impatient. I didn't have the patience to wait half an hour for the onion to caramelise, and then half an hour more for a slow, thickening simmer (though you'll notice I had enough patience to take pictures while cooking). So I just zipped through the process and ended up with an onion soup no cook worth her salt would  touch... and it was delicious. Try it if you don't believe me!

NOTE: I used a lot of noodles because I was very hungry. Please use about half of what I used. Also if you have noodles/pasta in little pieces instead of strands, they work better. Easier to scoop up in a spoon, for one.

Oh, I used these strange red chilies too. They're chilies, and they're moderately hot, but their skin, when chewed, is sweet. Very odd. But highly recommended.

 Chopped ingredients. Except the garlic, which is crushed.

Melt butter in a pan. Toss in peeled and chopped onions. After frying on medium for three or four minutes, cover and simmer for ten minutes. Raise to medium and stir for another minute.

 Will you look at the colour of the butter! And it smelt divine.

Add sherry or wine to deglaze the pan if you the like (or flavoured vinegar), then pour a tin of beef broth and an equal amount or more of water (skip broth if you haven't got it. Trust me. This is the rushed version). At the first boil, drop the noodles into the pan. Let boil till the noddles come apart at a fork's prodding. Now simmer till the whole thing reaches a thick consistency. Don't use cornflour to thicken the soup! Boiling the noodle in it does the trick.


 And it's thickened minus any extra help, thanks to the noodles!

 This is an awful picture. The actual final result was a lot more rich, golden brown.

Normally, one would ladle soup into each bowl, cover with a piece of crisply toasted bread, layer with grated cheese (I know it's unconventional, but I used sharp cheddar when I have it), and bake it till the cheese melted. With noodles, however, one can skip the bread and jump straight to the cheese. Even then, given how much more fuel ovens burn as compared to stove-tops, I prefer to just add the grated cheese to the soup after the noodles have been softened, and let it mix slowly into the broth, giving the soup more body and a creamier texture.

Or one could skip the cheese completely, of course, as I did. Nothing if not careful and cautious about my health, me. Plus we were out of cheese. Have fun with this one, you people on snow-covered shores. We'll make a proper onion soup when I'm less hungry, and consequently less impatient.


Abhishek Mukherjee said...

ONION (of all things) soup in these days? Woman, you're freaking rich! Looks delicious, though.

Abhishek Mukherjee said...

And, 3.35 AM? :O

I mean... well... forget it.

therapy said...

Soup is not my thing. But noodles, yes. So maybe I will make this for Jenny the flatmate and try a little.

Dea-chan said...

T keeps meaning to make french onion soup one of these days -- but I don't eat it!

I also like my soups full of stuff -- that is barely a soup in my book! Did you see my most recent chicken soup? (from like 2 weeks ago now...)