It's cold and French Onion Soup is wonderfully warming on a damp Autumn's day. But it is a soup all too easy to get wrong. It is not just a matter of simmering beef broth with onions; it has to be carefully cooked to bring out the natural sweetness of the onions. And I have to say I have had some shockingly awful watery and tasteless French Onion Soups, even in Paris, but done right it is a joy.
Traditionally, the most important ingredient is quality beef stock, followed by the correct cooking of onions. Many recipes call for copious amounts of butter in which to sauté the onions plus the addition of sugar to get the right degree of caramelisation.
Alas! All these are absolute no-nos on the Budwig Protocol. No beef stock, no butter, no sugar… Why torment myself, I’ll never be able to have French Onion Soup again.
But I can.
With careful cooking and the right combination of ingredients, I managed to create something that approximates to a delicious French Onion Soup. First, onions have to be gently sautéd for 40 minutes to break down the cell walls to release the natural sugars. Job done. So it comes down to the stock and other ingredients to impart that beefy goodness.
Stocks should always be home made if possible, although Ocado, the online shop does have a range of organic stocks, including a delicious mushroom stock if you wish to make this as a vegetarian/vegan option. Riverford sell organic duck and chicken carcasses, which I keep in the freezer until required. I also use any lamb bones whenever I have them. I recommend investing in a pressure cooker. It makes great stock in under an hour. The soup shown here was made with homemade chicken stock.
The addition of Shitake mushrooms – available at all major supermarkets - gives this dish its wonderful meatiness. Shitake are well known for their rich beefy flavour. Sautéing the mushrooms with a little red Miso also adds the element of umami. If you make this a day or two in advance, the flavours will really have time to develop.
The 'Mushroom Melange' powder is something I developed as an instant flavour enhancer and it really adds an element of umami to this dish. It is optional, so if you decide not to use it, add the mace instead. Tapioca flour is a great thickener, especially if you no longer use cornflour.
Without the bread, this is a gluten-free recipe, and can be vegan or vegetarian if you use a quality vegetable stock.
Serves 4 - 6
1.25 litres quality stock - I used chicken stock in this
1 kilo yellow onions, finely sliced
2 tbs coconut oil
1 tsp pink Himalayan salt or more to taste
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1.5 tbs date syrup
2 level tbs organic tapioca flour (gluten free)
250 g shitake mushrooms, well washed and sliced
2 tsp coconut oil
2 scant tsp of red Miso paste
1 tsp dried thyme or few fresh thyme sprigs
1 tsp "Mushroom Melange" powder or 1/4 tsp mace powder
2 tbs brandy/sherry – optional
four slices of goat’s cheese on organic gluten-free toast, lightly grilled
a few finely chopped walnuts
pink Himalayan salt and pepper to taste
** 1 cup Healing Intent
1. Gently sauté the onions and garlic in 2 tbs of the coconut oil and add the salt. Cook over a very low heat until the onions are soft and almost mushy. This will take around 40 minutes to get the onion to the right consistency.
2. When the onions are ready, add the date syrup and increase the temperature and stir-fry for 5 minutes until the colour darkens and the onions lightly caramelise.
3. Heat 2 tsp coconut oil with 2 tsp of red Miso paste and the mace. Gently sauté the mushrooms for around 3 minutes. Do not overcook.
4. Stir in the tapioca flour into the onion mixture and continue stirring for a minute or so to cook off the flour, then tip in the mushrooms mixture, add the thyme and stir in the stock. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover and cook for around 1 hour.
5. To serve, add the brandy, if using, and then ladle into a soup bowl, float a slice of grilled goat’s cheese on toast and top with a few chopped walnuts.
Mushroom Melange Powder
1 tbs black sesame seeds, lightly toasted in a frying pan
3 tbs dried porcini mushrooms
1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1 level tsp mace
2 sheets of toasted nori (seaweed)
Put all the ingredients into a grinder and process until a smooth powder. Use as a natural flavour enhancer. This is great in gravies without using Bisto or other such product.
** Healing Intent: when cooking foods to heal the body it is important to set your intent. The best way to do this is imagine that you are cooking this dish for yourself or for someone you love who is very ill and that this dish is the only thing that will help in their healing. You will find that the way you handle the food will change, and will not only result in a better dish, but you will feel the food actually nourishing your body and spirit.