In this variation on the classic Provençale garlic soup, you char the onions and garlic to give them a toasty, roasted flavour, then purée them to make a soup. As garlic makes up so much of the flavour, try to use the best-quality local garlic you can afford. You can whisk the egg with some grated Gruyère to enrich the dish even more.
- 2 large red onions, unpeeled
- 10 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 20 sage leaves
- 4 slices white sourdough bread
- 4 free-range eggs
- 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time 15 minutes
Preheat oven to 200°C. Place the whole, unpeeled onions in the embers of a fire and cook, turning a few times, for 15 minutes or until the inside is tender and the outside is blackened. (The trick is to scorch the outer leaves so the smoky flavour inveigles the centre.) To do this in a conventional kitchen, using tongs, place the onions over a gas flame, turning frequently, for 15 minutes or until the outside is blackened. Cook in the oven at 200°C for 25 minutes or until soft. Remove from oven and set aside for 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, roast the garlic in a frying pan over medium heat, tossing regularly, for 15 minutes or until skin is scorched and flesh is cooked. When cool enough to handle, peel off the scorched onion and garlic skins and discard. Using a food processor, process onion and garlic flesh to a paste.
Place the paste in a saucepan, add 1L water, thyme, bay leaves and half the sage. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, char the bread over a direct flame or on a chargrill for 40 seconds each side or until deep golden. (It’s important that it’s dark for that essential charred flavour.)
Place the hot bread in the base of four bowls and crack 1 egg onto each slice. Working quickly, scatter remaining sage leaves over the bread slices. Stir olive oil into the boiling soup, then remove from the heat and quickly spoon the soup over the bread and egg. The boiling soup cooks the egg a bit and the egg thickens and enriches the soup. Serve immediately.
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 11, pg33.
Photography by Alan Benson.