It’s Christmas Eve and I’m making French Onion Soup.
I spend nearly two hours peeling and slicing hundreds (okay, more like 10) of Bombay onions the size of my cat’s head, and he’s a big cat, nearly 10 kilogrammes. Onion-induced tears stream down my face as I slice. Oh joy to the world.
The last time I made this particular French onion soup, this exact recipe from the original domestic goddess herself, Martha Stewart, it was 2009 and I was in Houston spending Christmas with my sister and her family.
Well, not quite `spending’ Christmas with them as I was alone on Christmas day while they were in Las Vegas. They were returning the evening of Boxing Day and I had spent the morning of the 26th, driving gingerly to Krogers (driving on the other side of the car on the other side of the street was nerve-wrecking) to get all the ingredients. After my successful trip to the grocery store, I spent the rest of the day in the kitchen preparing all the yummy food I’d seen Martha Stewart do the night before. It was one of the most peaceful Christmases I’ve had in a long while.
Back in the present, I wait for the onions to caramelise and release its sweet fragrance before I add the liquids – dry sherry and heaps of store-bought beef stock.
I remember when my sister, her husband, their two kids and my sister’s mother-in-law finally sat down to a belated Christmas dinner, the first dish they tried was the onion soup that had simmered for almost three hours. Like Martha, I’d added shavings of Gruyere and placed the individual bowls of soup under the broiler to allow the cheese to heat and bubble, encasing the soup in delicious cheesy goodness. Within minutes, everyone’s bowl was scrapped clean.
As I whisk my soup gently, recalling the satisfied and peaceful demeanour which settled on the faces of my relatives and pseudo-relatives, I resolve to make French onion soup a Christmas family tradition.
I place the bowl on the table next to the roast turkey and wonder how my sister and her family is doing.
Are you a soup person? What’s your favourite soup to have?