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‘Tis the season to slurp soups. These bowls of warmth and heart-warming goodness make winter lunchtimes and cold nights much more cosy but I’ve often struggled with the idea of pairing a bowl of soup with a wine. Liquid… and more liquid! There is a lot to consider, intensity, flavour, texture and temperature. Sounds a bit of mouthful right! However, if you break down and examine the ingredients you will see similarities to many other foods you eat on a regular basis. Think stews, pasta sauces and even gravies!
French onion soup is one of my favourite winter warmers. Surely there isn’t anything better than an indulgent serving (check out the butter levels in the recipe further down!) of this French classic. This soulful soup developed from humble origins as a cheap soup for commoners. With the addition of grilled cheese though, it became a dish for the upper classes of Paris to eat after having one too many wines on their nights out. Nowadays, you’ll find the dish in family kitchens as a delightfully simply one-pot meal, or being practised by top chefs as a study in back-to-basics cooking.
The soup has a dominating onion flavour, rounded off with rich beef broth and a mouth-watering cheesy crouton. The recipe calls for simple and wholesome ingredients and there aren’t any fancy techniques for getting it right. And, if you need one, you can always use “I need a bit for cooking with” as an excuse to open a bottle of wine. Don’t worry, it’s only a dash you will have plenty left for your glass.
A couple of tips when following the recipe:
The Palomino/Chenin Blanc blend by AA Badenhorst Papegaai is an ideal pairing alongside the soup. The crisp acidity of this South African white cuts through the buttery, dense texture of the broth, and refreshes your palate without dominating it. The Palomino grape (which is also used for sherry) adds texture to the palate while the Chenin Blanc brings notes of lemon and a hint of honey which compliments the caramelized onions. Many would see beef stock and grab a red however the aim of the game is to enhance not over-power. A big red can often be a bit cloying whereas the Papegaai white lifts the palate of this sturdy soup.
Have you ever tried pairing a wine to a soup? It’s not a common coupling so let me know your experiences. Also, tell me if you follow the French Onion soup recipe and if you’ve got any tips or tricks that I’ve missed.
Recipe for the French Onion Soup - serves 6 people;
Guest written, and recipe supply by; The Demeter Diaries