Aphro Cuisine Recipe: Ruby Soup
APHRO CUISINE – AUGUST ’14 FEATURE
I’m unsure that you can even call this a soup. It is more of a heady elixir of slippery caramelised onions and fine shavings of earthy beet, all cradled and brought together by a warming beef broth.
The inspiration for this recipe came to me over the radio on a warm winter afternoon, via a deep rumbling French voice. The man spoke with passion about this legendary French onion soup, which he acquired while working at a famed restaurant outside Paris that had been using this recipe since the 1800s. Legend has it that they have had the same pot of soup continually cooking since then, only adding more onions and stock to keep it alive, with the soup getting richer all the while—I didn’t have the time to achieve anything that esteemed, but this ‘quick’ version seems to do the trick.
To this essentially classic French onion soup I added a little color with beets, and some depth with an herb bouquet, and what transpired was truly remarkable. Make this soup only for those closest to your heart—it is worthy.
You will need:
6 brown onions
4 cloves garlic—finely chopped
2 medium beets—peeled, quartered lengthwise and then sliced in a mandolin, or—with utmost care and patience—with a knife, to just 1 mm thick
1 cup good white wine
1 litre beef broth
4 tablespoons duck fat or butter
A bouquet of fresh herbs; you can use thyme, rosemary, parsley, bay leaves
Crème fraîche to serve
Good quality sourdough bread or French baguette
A good Comté cheese is best, but Gruyère or Emmental will do just fine
Slice your onions into slivers lengthwise—not across the onion as you would to make a ring, but rather cut top to bottom. This will yield a softer, finer texture when you caramelise them. On that note, get your thick-bottomed pot on a low heat and let warm for a few minutes. Then add 3 tbsp duck fat or butter, and toss in it 4 of the onions. Cook for about 45 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes to ensure they don’t stick to the bottom. Cook the other 2 onions in the same way with the rest of the duck fat/butter but for only about 20 minutes. Having both the lighter crisper onions and the sweet caramelised ones gives the soup a deeper flavor spectrum.
Once all cooked, add your 20 min onions to the 45 min onions, add your garlic, cook for a further couple of minutes and then add the wine to deglaze. Add the beets, herb bouquet, stock and a couple of cups of water. Cook on a very low heat for at least an hour—add more water as needed if you cook for longer. If you cook it too long, everything will lose its texture, but an hour or more should be about right. Remove your herb bouquet, and serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and the cheese melted on your bread. This simple yet refined French-inspired soup will melt your heart!
Recipe & photography by Megan McCulloch
APHRO CUISINE - Eating is a ritual. It enriches our daily lives, enlivens our body and mind, and when we savour and indulge, evokes our sensuality. Aphro Cuisine is not only a seductive culinary and sensory project, but a way of life. A way to benefit and enjoy more deeply the vital potent energy that food brings us every day, and I’m here to share this food philosophy with you!