I’ve written about this soup before because I’ve been modifying and trying different versions for a number of years. This afternoon I did a version for lunch that was easy and really delicious, so I wanted to share what I did. It’s based on a 16th century Dutch dish (original recipe and translation below). I added a pound of mussels to it as they were cheap ($3.75/lb) and they’re a family favorite.
This version was a quick version omitting the sweet/sour profile of most medieval dishes, but adding a little vinegar would work nicely with the shellfish. As far as the beer goes, I would not replace the Rodenbach with anything. It’s a Flemish style sour beer and the flavor profile would be significantly changed with the addition of another beer, unless it is another Flemish style sour beer. It’s a bit pricey (it was $2.50 each at my local market), but worth the expense. I’ve used other beers and they’re good, but not as good as the Rodenbach.
Dutch Onion Soup
1/2 cup of butter (one stick)
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 Bottles Rodenbach Classic
4 cups water
4 mushroom bouillon cubes (found in the Kosher aisle at your market)
Add: One Pound Mussels (this can be omitted)
Before you begin, if you’re adding mussels, rinse and check them then put them in a colander. Make sure that the pot that you’re using will fit the colander on top of it without touching the liquid. If you dip the mussels just a bit, that’s fine, but make sure that you don’t cover the ones on the bottom.
- Melt the stick of butter in your pot.
- Add the sliced onion and cook them until the onions are soft and a little brown.
- While your onions are cooking, bash the mushroom bouillon cubes in a mortar or crush with a spoon in a bowl.
- Add the beer, water and bouillon.
- Bring the liquid to a boil.
- Put the colander on top of the pot and cover.
- When the mussels are open and cooked, it’s done.
This will feed four people. We ladled the soup into the bowls and then added as many mussels as we wished to eat. You can shell the mussels and add the meat to your bowl if you don’t want to deal with wet fingers.
A note on salt: I did not add salt to this recipe as the bouillon cubes are quite salty, but if you taste it and want to add more, please do so.
This is the original recipe:
19 Om een ajuynsoppe te maken.
Neemt ajuyn, snijt die in schijven ende roost hem in olye met de corsten van de brooden. Als dit nu wat gesoden heeft, so doet er wat azijns by, wat byers, wat suyckers ende wat gengeberpoeder. Laet dit tesamen sieden totdat het begint dick te werden ende alsdan in de schotel ghedaen ende gegeten.
Translation (by Jennifer Strobel)
19 How to make onion sop.
Take onion, cut it in slices and roast it in oil with crusts of bread. When this now has cooked a while, so put therewith some vinegar, some beer, some sugar and some ginger powder. Leave this together to boil until it begins to become thick and then place it in the dish to be then eaten.