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Cope with the cold

Shower thought #787: if wine tasting is a thing, why isn’t soup tasting? Like seven or eight soups lined up with different breads to compliment each one. Seriously, I’m wasted as a chef.

While that’s just a dream, this week’s recipe is a delicious reality: Licurdia onion soup (also known as Calabrian onion soup). Sloshy, warmy, and as cosy as a cucumber.

Before we get to the soup, a reminder that we’re running a live online cookalong on Thursday 16th February. Ticket sales have been very impressive amongst our families, but less so amongst our friends. Hint hint - get your ticket here.

This week’s album: 
Coexist by The xx

The xx can now boast of being one of the only bands to feature on EMW twice. Some accolade. We did their debut album this time last year but I was listening to this follow-up and thought it deserved a plug. A great album for any time of year but especially while we're in the depths of Jan.

Veganuary continues

Onion soup is a classic. The most familiar version is French onion soup - an incredibly deep and rich dish made with white wine, beef stock and thyme.

This week’s Calabrian version is also ace but differs somewhat. Its origins lie in ‘la cucina povera’ so there's no place for alcohol and meat stocks. Instead, its unadulterated onion flavour comes from the cooking technique used. Rather than stock, we use water which create a more delicate and subtle result.

The French use flour to thicken the soup but we’ll use grated potato (making our soup both vegan and gluten-free).

Traditionally, this soup is made with the highly prized Tropea onions of Calabria. These are locally known as ‘red gold of Calabria’ or ‘the red queen’, in part due to their sweetness and the fact that you can eat them raw like an apple.

Fresh Tropea onions are usually available from March/April to October but can be tricky to find in the UK. We’ll use more readily available onions this week - half red and half white - but still get a similar result.

Although Tropeas are considered red onions they’re not quite as intense in colour as the red ones we all know hence why we’ll balance them out with some whites.

As ever with such a simple recipe, the quality of your ingredients will dramatically affect the quality of your dish so try get hold of the best onions you can. 

Also, as with any slow-cooked dish, it benefits from being made a day ahead. Make it as per the instructions, leave to cool for an hour or so at room temp, and then pop it in the fridge overnight. This allows the flavours to marry up and develop. When you want to eat, reheat it gently for a super quick meal.

What you need

The below serves 4. It takes 15 mins to prep and 90 mins to cook.

6 tbsps of olive oil
500g white onions
(peeled weight)
500g red onion (peeled weight)
½ tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
300g King Edward/Maris Piper/Desiree potatoes (peeled weight) 
1 litre of water
1 ciabatta
Sea salt & black pepper

Ready, steady, cook

1. Peel and finely slice all the onions. Place a large heavy-bottomed pan onto a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil and onions. Season generously with sea salt - the salt will draw out the moisture from the onions and help them to caramelise properly - and stir regularly for two mins. Then turn the heat down to a medium-low heat and cook for about 15 mins. Stir occasionally.

2. After the 15 mins your onions will have reduced significantly in volume and will be starting to caramelise. Turn down the heat to very low and continue to cook for 40 mins (still stirring every so often). As the onions get closer to being fully caramelised they’ll need closer attention so that they don’t burn.

3. Add the chilli flakes and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Stir through and cook for a minute. While that’s cooking - or while you’re cooking the onions in step two - peel and grate your potato using a box grater. Add the grated potato, along with another generous pinch of salt, to the mixture. Stir through. Return the heat to medium and cook for a couple of mins before adding the water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Leave to cook gently for 30 mins.

4. Meanwhile, slice your ciabatta ready for toasting. Do this in a toaster, under the grill or, even better, drizzle each slice with a generous amount of good-quality olive oil and toast in a frying pan over a medium heat.

5. After the potato has been cooking for 30 mins, turn off the heat and leave for 5-10 mins to cool slightly before checking the seasoning. When happy, divide between warmed bowls and serve with the warm ciabatta.

Note: if you’re not vegan, this soup is often served with pecorino and caciocavallo (a type of stretched-curd cheese) so feel free to add some if you like.

Final thought

Buy a ticket for our cookalong. Thursday 16th February. 7-8.30pm. Lots of fun. Lots of flavour. More info and tickets here.

Speak next week,



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Eat My Words · Kew Gardens · Kew, TW9 · United Kingdom

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