Onion soup, anyone? Carabaccia?

It’s getting to be the end of November and even though the temperature in and around Rome is nowhere near levels of brrrrrr wintryness, psychologically and seasonally it is time to make soup.  What could be more classic than French onion soup?  Carabaccia can.

Carabaccia is ‘Made-in-Florence’ onion soup.  Carabaccia came before French onion soup and was probably brought over to France, together with many other ingredients, foods and recipes of the Florentine Medici Court, by Catherine de Medici upon her marriage to the French King Henry II.  There actually exists a website called http://www.carabaccia.it! and there is also a restaurant in Florence called “La Carabaccia” where I read that word ‘carabaccia’ originally referred to the name of a boat in Renaissane times that was used to ferry people to and fro across the River Arno in Florence.  I love history!  It’s always full of interesting snippets …

Anyway, the onion soup I am talking about in this post is based partly on the onion soup my mother used to make and partly on a recipe of Delia Smith’s … and so think of it as hotch-potch onion soup: part Carabaccio, part Delia, part French — but jolly good nevertheless: and that’s what counts.

I was cooking for three people … and so I thought to myself, three onions each plus one for the pot …

A nice knob of butter and some olive oil in the casserole …

Slice the onions as thinly as you can and let them sweat very very very slowly in the casserole … on a low heat.

Add some salt and also some sugar and make sure you turn them over now and then …

And that’s what they looked like after 45 minutes.  See how much they’ve shrunk and they are getting caramelised.

Now is the time to add a spoonful of flour …

Cook the flour for about 3 minutes and then add one ladleful of chicken or beef stock.  I had just made stock that day but had still not filtered it.  That’s why you see a sieve in the photo, I was using it to filter the brodo (stock).  Add the stock and mix well before adding more stock.

Taste and add salt and pepper.  Switch off heat and cover.

This is a very poor photo, apologies.  It is grated Emmenthal cheese.  Emmenthal or Gruyère, or, if you are making Carabaccio onion soup, parmesan cheese …. these are all wonderful cheeses for this kind of soup.

Cut slices of bread to a chunky width and toast them under the grill/broiler in the oven for a bit.  Or in a toaster.  Then remove them and add the grated cheese on each slice.  Put back in the oven and heat until the cheese melts.

Mmmmm …. looking lovely already.  Okay, now … back to the soup.  Turn the heat on again and …

Add a good splurge of either cognac or sherry or port or marsala … whichever you prefer. And now it’s time to put everything in the pot!

Add the toasted bread and cheese last.

A lovely casserole in soup tureen version!  (I work for a home decor company called Giardini di Sole — and the above ceramics line is known as Bella Frutta).

Served in a yellow Bella Frutta plate …

Or served in a black Bella Frutta plate … what does it matter!  It’s just the business come wintertime.

And we heartily disagree with Elizabeth David, God bless her soul, when she expatiated on the demerits of French onion soup:   “The onion soup generally regarded as ‘French’, writes Elizabeth David in her classic, “French Provincial Cooking”, ‘with sodden bread, strings of cheese and half-cooked onion floating about in it, seems to me a good deal overrated, and rather indigestible.’

Rubbish, quoth I.  Onions are incredibly good for you and if you cook them slowly and long enough, they are veeery digestible too.  And the soup is truly magnificently slurpy and satisfying … and I’ve an empty pot to prove it, so there …


About myhomefoodthatsamore

Community celebration via food, wine and all beautiful things.
This entry was posted in Primi (first courses - usually a pasta or risotto), Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Onion soup, anyone? Carabaccia?

  1. jackie says:


  2. jackie says:

    cooked your onion soup which was a huge success. turned out there was plenty to feed the family and my 3 neighbours! they all said it was delicious. thankyou x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s