Friday, January 22, 2010

French onion soup reinvented

When you think how much dishes get mucked about with these days it's surprising that no-one has felt inspired to get creative with French onion soup. Until now. Yesterday I spotted an irresistible version on the menu at Angelus in Lancaster Gate and had to give it a try.

Actually it's more like a Franglais version - a creamy onion soup with cider topped with melted Munster croutons and a scattering of toasted cumin seeds and very sexy it looked too as you can see from the photo above. But more to the point it tasted fabulous - smooth and sweetly oniony, not overwhelmed by cheese - just enough to add an extra dimension of richness and complexity. It was sublime.

I didn't get the recipe (I'll try) but I'm guessing that the chef Martin Nisbet, sweated off some Spanish-style onions in butter until they were golden, added a good chicken stock and some dry cider then blitzed it, strained it and finished it off with cream, a few spots of oil (not sure which kind - didn't taste strong enough for truffle) and a scattering of cumin seeds. The croutons, which were topped with the melted, rinded Munster, were served separately so as not to disturb the pristine beauty of the surface.

It made me wonder why chefs don't do soup more often, particularly at this time of year. It's comforting for the customer and cheap for the restaurant who can make a decent margin on it. (It actually cost £8 which I wouldn't have begrudged though they gave me a bowl to try.)

It also confirmed my prejudice that cheese is better added to soup than included in it - I don't know if you'd agree?



  1. I love soup. I wish it was a little cheaper - I'd be far more likely to order it if I was paying less money for a smaller bowl of soup.

    I had the most brilliant onion soup in Sri Lanka. I was staying in a small hotel where they looked after me very well and also happened to do excellent food. One night they brought me some soup I hadn't ordered. It was just a very simple onion broth - clear, with sliced onion floating in it. And it was perfect in every way.

  2. That looks nice - but £8 for a bowl of soup - that's ridiculous! I make wonderful soup for about 10p per portion.

  3. I know what you mean Verity but it was quite a posh place and cheaper than the other starters. And having tasted it I can work out how to do it for 10p a portion (or maybe a little bit more!)

    Your Sri Lankan soup sounds lovely, fingersandtoes. I do think soup is underrated.