Just like Noel, I became a student again and therefore had to start living and cooking cheaply again.
Because I have 22 contact hours a week at uni, I am always home at nightfall and by then I am just simply too tired to even think of boiling water. So I decided to be smart and cook 3 large freezer/fridge-friendly meals every weekend.
This is part one: Soupe al' oignon or French onion soup. I discovered this recipe while watching the excellent food program, Food Safari on SBS. It is extremely cheap to make and taste better the longer you keep it. Perfect for winter too!
The most expensive thing here would be the gruyere cheese. But believe me, it is definitely worth buying it because it is the tastiest cheese I have ever eaten and blends extremely well with the soup. I got my cheese for AUD $5 from a deli in the market. NEVER buy cheese from money-sucking Safeway or Coles. Markets are the way to go.
I believe it's always handy to have a bottle of white wine in the fridge. It gives food (even pasta) the extra kick. Any cheap white wine would do; even cask wines (the bottom of the barrel). In this recipe, I used Muscat (a very sweet dessert wine) and it turned out wonderful. Besides, Muscat is a wonderful thing to take a swig from everyday!
Soupe Al' Oignon
Unsalted butter (60g)
Brown onions (5; peeled and finely sliced)
Water (2 liters)
White wine (1 glass)
Gruyere cheese (French or Swiss; 100g; half cut into cubes, half grated)
Salt & pepper
1. Melt the butter in a large pot, add onion and cook stirring for 25 minutes (yes, that long) over a low fire until the onions are a deep golden brown colour and beginning to caramelize. They should be extremely soft and look as though they've got stringy bits of cheese mixed into it.
2. Add flour and stir quickly for 2 minutes.
3. Add water and the wine. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add the cubes of gruyere cheese, stir in and bring to boil.
5. Turn the fire down to low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Give it a stir once in a while and check the seasoning.
6. While simmering, slice the baguette into thick slices and sprinkle with the grated cheese on top. Place under a hot grill and remove when cheese melts.
7. Spoon the soup into a bowl and serve with the toasted baguette on top.