Sunday, March 3, 2024
27 C
Brunei Town

Bowl of comfort

G Daniela Galarza

THE WASHINGTON POST – I’d been going through a dry spell, lacking in kitchen inspiration and feeling a bit blue, when it hit me: What I wanted was comfort food. I was itching for a creamy soup (with actual cream in it!), but I wanted it to be as familiar and easy to make as chicken soup with the charm of a bubbling bowl of cheese-laden French onion. That’s how this creamy chicken soup was born.

It gets its base flavour from caramelised onions, but if you’re imagining that you’ll have to stand over the stove for an hour, stirring sliced onions, you can squash that dreaded thought. I’ve worked in a bit of a cheat for coaxing caramelised flavour out of deeply browned onions.

What you do is start with diced rather than sliced onions – the extra surface area helps them caramelise faster. Then, you cook them over relatively high heat – medium-high. As soon as they start to turn dark brown, you add a splash of white vinegar.

Keep cooking and stirring, allowing the now-boiling liquid to soften the onions and, within minutes, evaporate.

The sugar, which is now absorbed by the onions, will encourage the allium to caramelise further. Add another splash of vinegar to repeat the process, and you’ll end up with onions the color of mahogany; soft, shiny and sweet.

Creamy chicken soup with caramelised onions. PHOTOS: THE WASHINGTON POST
When the potatoes are cooked, remove the pot from the heat and, using an immersion blender, puree the soup on high speed until mostly smooth

Chicken broth and a potato, cut into cubes, stretch those onions into a soup. Pureed potato gives the soup body, and a small amount of cream adds richness. Then, chicken, sauteed and pulled into bite-size pieces, gets stirred in.

The final touch is a handful of shredded gruyere cheese. It rounds out the flavours and adds a sharp funk. As you take a bite, thin, melty strands of cheese will follow each spoonful, reminiscent of a bowl of French onion. But without the hours-long cook time and stint under a broiler.

I don’t like to pick favorites when it comes to recipes, but I’ve been making this on repeat – especially on cold, gloomy days when the sun sets too early. It’s become a welcome respite from whatever the day has thrown my way.


Active time: 25 minutes;
Total time: 35 minutes
Two servings (makes a generous four cups)

This rich and creamy soup leans on caramelised onions and gruyere cheese for flavour, potatoes for body and just a little bit of heavy cream for silkiness. The onions caramelise more quickly because they’re diced, rather than sliced. A sprinkling of chives before serving brings the onion flavour forward.

Instead of the chicken breast, feel free to use any cooked or leftover chicken you may have, such as rotisserie.

To make this soup vegetarian, omit the chicken and use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock. Along with the potatoes, add a 15-ounce can of (drained and rinsed) cannellini or navy beans.

To make this soup vegan, follow the instructions to make it vegetarian and also omit the cream and cheese. Add two teaspoons of white miso before pureeing the soup.

Use water plus a tablespoon of apple cider or white vinegar. Or, use more broth.


– One boneless, skinless chicken breast (eight to 10 ounces), patted dry
– A quarter teaspoon fine salt, plus more as needed
– Freshly cracked black pepper
– Three tablespoons olive oil
– One small (six ounces) yellow onion, diced
– Four cups chicken or vegetable broth, preferably no-salt-added
– One large Yukon Gold potato (12 ounces), peeled and diced
– A quarter cup heavy cream
– A quarter cup (one ounce) shredded Gruyère cheese
– Chopped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)


Lightly season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper.

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Lay the chicken into the pan so that it falls away from you, and cook until browned on one side, about five minutes.

Turn over, and brown on the other side, about five minutes more, or until cooked through with an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board.

Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown and stick to the bottom of the pot, about five minutes.

Stir up any brown bits. Continue cooking until the onions turn dark brown, about four minutes more. Add the broth and potatoes, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, using your fingers, pull the chicken into bite-size pieces.

When the potatoes are cooked, remove the pot from the heat and, using an immersion blender, puree the soup on high speed until mostly smooth. (Or, using a standing blender, puree the soup in batches. Don’t overblend or it may become gluey).

Stir in the pulled chicken and cream. Taste, and season with more salt and/or pepper, bearing in mind that the cheese will also add saltiness. Just before serving, stir in the cheese.

Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the chives and more pepper, if desired, and serve.