The onion, whose flavour is such an essential part of practically every soup, has been used for more than just flavouring in the past - the juice was rubbed on wasp stings as a pain killer, and, if you could bear the smell it made an excellent hair restorer - it also helped to cure chilblains, catarrh and hangovers. The famous French onion soup, eaten by market porters for breakfast was therefore part food, part cure. This English version, creamier and milder, is food pure and simple.
4 Large Onions 2 sticks Celery 50 Gram Butter (2 oz) 50 Gram Plain flour (2 oz) 300 ml Milk (1/2 pint) 850 ml Chicken stock or vegetable stock (1 1/2 pints) Salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper Little Grated nutmeg 2 Tablespoon Parsley, chopped 4 Tablespoon Single cream
Peel and chop the onions and celery and cook them in a covered pan in a little butter, with a tablespoon of water until they are very soft, about 10 minutes. Then purée them in the liquidiser or sieve through the fine blade of a mouli-légumes.
Keep the purée on one side while you melt the butter in the cleaned saucepan and stir in the flour to make a roux. When the flour and butter have combined and become smooth and glossy, add the milk a little at a time, stirring all the time until you have a smooth mixture.
Add the onion and celery purée and enough stock to make a smooth creamy soup.
Simmer for 10 minutes, taste for seasoning, add a little nutmeg, stir in the parsley and lastly enrich the soup by pouring the cream into the middle and letting it swirl up to the top.