French onion soup is a classic dish, brown onions slowly sweated in butter until caramelised, enriched with white wine and beef stock, and served with croutons smothered in melted cheese, sound delicious. However this doesn’t really suit the requirements of the 5:2 diet. Butter and Cheese are not your friend on this fiendish diet. I find that with a little creative license, you can make just about any meal low calorie (I’m still working on Pizza). Trolling the internet, I came across this French Onion Soup recipe http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/9079/the-ultimate-makeover-french-onion-soup which pretty much has done all of the work for me, I’ve made some slight changes in the recipe below.
If you really want to make this low calorie, exclude the bread and cheese topping (about 130 calories in that tasty addition), the soup on its own adds up to about 200 calories per serving.
4 large Spanish onions (about 900g/2lb)
3 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
300ml dry white wine
1 rounded tbsp plain flour
1 litre beef stock
- Cut the onions in half lengthways, then slice down into very thin slices. Heat a very large pan, add the oil when hot, stir in the onions, 3 of the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves, then season with a little salt. It will seem like a lot of onions, but they reduce right down. Cook over a high heat for 5 mins, stirring often. The onions shouldn’t brown yet, just start to soften. Lower the heat, then cook slowly for 35 mins, uncovered, stirring often until the onions have reduced right down and are very soft.
- While the onions are cooking, tip the flour into a small heavy pan and toast over a medium heat for a few mins, stirring occasionally, until light brown in colour. Set aside.
- When the onions are very soft and reduced, turn up the heat so they caramelise, then cook for another 12-15 mins, stirring along the bottom of the pan occasionally to mix in the brown sticky bits. When the bottom of the pan and all the onions are sticky and a rich brown colour, stir in the flour. With the heat still high, gradually pour in the wine, again stirring in the bits from the bottom. Pour in beef stock, then slowly bring everything to the boil. Skim off any froth from the surface. Simmer for 15 mins so all the flavours can mingle.
- To serve, remove and discard the herbs from the soup. Ladle the soup into bowls. Add some crusty bread with cheese melted on top for the full experience.