Spinach and onion soup with tomato crostini

    1 hour 30 min

    A colourful vegetarian version of classic French onion soup, this makes a filling lunch or supper. The secret of the rich flavour lies in frying the onions very slowly until they are well browned, caramelised and sweet.

    1 person made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 30 g (1 oz) butter
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) large onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 tsp caster sugar
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 litre (1¾ pints) vegetable stock, preferably home-made rich
    • 115 g (4 oz) broccoli, finely chopped
    • 115 g (4 oz) spinach leaves, torn
    • salt and pepper
    • Tomato crostini
    • 8 thick slices of French bread
    • 1 garlic clove, halved
    • 2 tsp tomato purée
    • 2 tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges
    • 30 g (1 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

    Prep:30min  ›  Cook:1hr  ›  Ready in:1hr30min 

    1. Melt the butter with the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and fry gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and pale golden. Stir in the sugar and garlic, then continue to fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are browned and caramelised.
    2. Stir in the stock and a little seasoning, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the broccoli and simmer for a further 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the spinach, then cover and leave to stand while making the tomato crostini.
    3. Preheat the grill to high, and lightly toast the slices of bread on both sides. Rub one side of each slice with the cut garlic clove and spread lightly with tomato purée. Add 2 tomato wedges to each slice, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top. Grill for about 2 minutes or until the cheese melts and is just bubbling.
    4. While the crostini are grilling, reheat the soup, if necessary. Ladle into 4 warm bowls. Float 2 tomato crostini in each bowl of soup and serve immediately.

    Parmesan cheese

    Parmesan cheese is not truly vegetarian, as it contains animal rennet. To make this dish 100% vegetarian, omit the cheese or find a suitable vegetarian substitute made without animal rennet. In supermarkets look for the 'parmesan style hard cheeses' which are suitable for vegetarians.

    Some more ideas

    For a pepper and onion soup, replace the spinach and broccoli with 1 red and 1 orange pepper, both seeded and thinly sliced. Add the peppers with the onions in step 1. Just before serving, stir in 200 g (7 oz) skinned and diced tomatoes and some torn fresh basil leaves. * Use 55 g (2 oz) crumbled feta cheese instead of the Parmesan on the crostini. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the cheese and tomatoes before grilling them.

    Plus points

    Spinach is a good source of several antioxidants including vitamins C and E, and carotenoid compounds. It also provides useful amounts of niacin and vitamin B6, and is a good source of folate. * Although spinach is traditionally thought of as a good source of iron, only 2–5% of the iron can be used by the body. This is due to oxalic acid in the spinach, which binds the iron, making most of it unavailable. Eating spinach with something that provides vitamin C, such as the tomatoes here, makes more of the iron available. * Broccoli is a good source of folate, which is vital for women planning a baby or during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

    Each serving provides

    A, C * B1, B6, B12, E, folate

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