Friday, 6 February 2009


I think I am starting with a bit of a cold - all the damp and cold doesn’t bode well so I think I am going to try to nip it in the bud as I really cannot afford to have a cold at the moment.

Its time for some French Onion Soup I think. I am going to make a scuttle full first thing in the morning so that we can have it lunch time and I think I will put the bread-maker on as well so we can have nice fresh bread as well to go with it.

This is a particularly good soup to have when suffering with colds or flu like symptoms or a bad cough or tickly throat. The onions and garlic are both natural antiseptics and help you feel more comfortable especially when you have a very sore throat. A couple of bowls full of this soup helps soothe it. Unfortunately there is no cure for a common cold you just have to let it take its course, so it is really just a matter of making yourself more comfortable for the duration.

I am going to use the pressure cooker as it takes approximately 4 minutes to make at high pressure and I am ever conscious of the rising cost of gas and electricity, so I am tending to not put the oven on willy nilly and am making the best of what equipment I have. To tell you the truth I had forgotten about the pressure cooker, but Mum was telling me what she gets up to with hers, and so I have bought new gaskets and safety valves as it has been a while since I used mine as a pressure cooker. I have two Prestige pressure cookers and have been able to get replacement parts from our local Co-Op.

Well here is the recipe I use:-

Cooking time 4 minutes
Pressure high
Serves 4


1lb/0.5 kg of onions
2oz/50g butter
2 pints/generous 1 litre stock (recipe suggests beef stock cubes – but it is an old book) I use whatever stock I have to hand)
salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
few drops of Worcester sauce or 1 tablespoon Maderia (or sherry) per serving
4 slices of French bread (or four discs cut from a couple of slices of bread with a pastry cutter/cookie cutter you can use different shapes then)
4 oz Gruyere cheese or Cheddar cheese grated


Peel and thinly slice the onions. Heat the butter in the open cooker pan with out the lid and the trivet removed and cook the onions on a very low heat until the onions are softened and are only just beginning to brown. [it is important at this stage that the onions are cooked very slowly as this helps develop the flavour]. Add the stock, the seasoning and the bay leaf making sure that the cooker is not more than half full. Add the cover, and put on high until there is a continuous stream of steam coming out of the pressure gauge point (then add the pressure weight gauge) and let build up pressure following your pressure cooker instructions [I do have general instructions if anyone has lost theirs please pm me and I will supply] Once pressure has been reached turn down the heat and cook for the requisite time. Then switch off and allow pressure to dissipate (this can be done by placing the pressure cooker in a bowl of cold water or by allowing the pressure to reduce at room temperature) when it stops hissing it is safe to take the weight and then the lid off.

Remove the bay leaf then ladle the soup into four ovenproof bowls (if serving 4). Stir ina few drops of Worcestershire sauce or Madeira or Sherry into each bowl of soup then add a slice of French bread or a disc of ordinary bread. Sprinkle the bread with a lot of the cheese then put the bowls under a preheated grill to melt until cheese is bubbling for 2 to 3 minutes.

The soup can be frozen but do so without the cheese or the bread.

This never lasts long in our house; I also supplement this with a teaspoon of honey per day and also fresh orange juice/fresh oranges to give extra vitamin c. Honey helps boost your immune system naturally. It is also a natural antibiotic and gets rid of any mucuous off your chest - a natural expectorant. But if you cut yourself it is equally good smeared on a bit of lint and then strapped on the cut. It helps get rid of any infection that might be there and also helps heal the cut with minimum scarring.

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