Still on the salicylate challenge and we wanted something a little different for dinner. It was a miserable day here in Melbourne yesterday so soup seemed very fitting. I wracked my brain to come up with something interesting that was also high in salicylates and for some odd reason came up with French onion soup….but it had to have a twist as I don’t eat beef therefore would not and could not use the traditional beef stock (besides beef stock is far too high in amines for my middle guy to have it, so chicken stock it must be), nor could I make the traditional cheesy croutons to go with it as my middle son is dairy free for the moment and we are all gluten free. Otherwise, I could still use loads of onion and fresh thyme from my garden.
I used to cook with a lot of fresh herbs pre Failsafe, nothing beats them. But since being on this diet, the only time they get used is when my big guys are at their father’s and when you’re cooking for 2 and a quarter people, you don”t really need a lot, so my ol’ thyme bush is a little neglected and therefore overgrown…but it still tastes just as good. It is also abundant in flowers which has never really happened in the past because I was using it so frequently that flowers never really had time to grow. I must say though, the flowers made for a very pretty garnish.
Now I must tell you, there is a very easy way to peel and slice 2 kilograms of fresh onions….get someone else to do it for you, but, if like me, you’re not that lucky, do not, I repeat, DO NOT make the mistake I made and go the cheap option of pre packed small onions…you’ll feel like you’re peeling and chopping and crying for hours. Get the BIGGEST ones you can find!!! Peeling onions really isn’t a nice job but this soup makes it well worth the effort.
So the dilemma with the croutons. It’s really not French onion soup without cheesy, crusty slabs of toasted goodness on top. What is a gluten and dairy free mum to do???? Make gluten free bread and turn it into garlic croutons then rename the dish Aussie Onion Soup! That’s it!! Of course, we’re not all dairy free so some of us could have the cheesy goodness 🙂 Oh the bread, what bread to use. I really wanted a fluffy, white, crusty loaf but have yet to find one that I like. Google was my friend once again and in true Schana style, I just could not help changing the recipe I found…and of course, I didn’t take note of which site I got it from so sorry gf bread making person who inspired my efforts yesterday, there are no accolades coming your way because I don’t know who you are. Ah, nope, I found it thanks to my trusty browsing history..it was Food.com. Now you can compare my changes 😉
Soft spongy gluten free white bread
2 cups gluten free flour blend (your favourite commercial one will do, that’s what I used…my own favourite of course, not yours ;))
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tbsp of white sugar
2 1/2 tsp of dried yeast
2 medium or large eggs
1 tsp of malt vinegar ( I know this is moderate amines but such a small amount should be ok)
3 tbsp of canola oil (or sunflower, safflower, rice bran oil)
1 cup of warm water
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Beat the eggs and vinegar in a mixing bowl until well combined then add the oil and beat a further minute or so. Add about 3/4 of the water and mix well. Using low sppeed on your mixer, carefully and slowly add the dry ingredients, adding more water as needed. Once combined, the mix should resemble a thick cake batter. Pour into a greased and floured small bread tin (about 12cm x 22cm), cover with plastic wrap then set aside in a warm spot until doubled in size. Bake at 180°C for about an hour or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Allow to cool before slicing.
Aussie Onion Soup
2 kg of onions
3 cloves garlic, sliced finely
2 tsp of salt
2 tbsp of fresh thyme
2 litres of chicken stock
1 tbsp of flour (of course I use gluten free)
Oil for sauteeing
Peel and slice the onions. In a large pot, heat the oil over high heat then add the onions, garlic and salt. Sweat down, stirring regularly but allowing to catch on the bottom every now and then to encourage a little caramelisation, but don’t burn. Once the onions are cooked within an inch of their lives, but not burnt of course, add the flour and cook out for a couple of minutes, stirring often. Add the stock and thyme and bring tot he boil. Reduce heat and simmer for no less than half an hour. Season to taste with salt.
Now for the croutons. Slice your freshly baked bread and grill on one side until golden. Yes, I know, it seems sacrilegious to toast such fresh, yummy goodness, but it must be done. In a small bowl, mix up some butter or dairy free spread (Nuttelex) with a couple of cloves of crushed garlic (or more if you want to ward off vampires) and a sprinkling of fresh thyme. Spread generously on the untoasted side of the bread then place back under the grill and cook until golden, being careful not to burn the crusts.
As for the cheesy croutons, traditionally Gruyere cheese is used but since this is Aussie onion soup, you can use whatever cheese you like. I used a blend of Colby and Mozzarella. Again, under the grill, toast one side of the bread. Pile the grated cheese, generously on top of the untoasted side then sprinkle with fresh time. Now here you can choose how messy you want to be. You can either place the croutons in the bowl on top of the soup, sprinkle with more cheese then place the entire bowl under the grill but if you’re like me and don’t fancy trying to scrape hardened melted cheese from your bowls before washing, then just place the prepared croutons under the grill and toast until all melty and golden, then place in top of the soup. Garnish with some extra thyme, or like I did and if they’re in season, thyme flowers…oh so pretty 🙂
Et là vous allez…oh sorry, this is Aussie onion soup….And there ya go mate!