I love soups; I basically can have soup every day as a meal especially during the Fall and Winter season. This idea came from a wonderful Japanese soup cookbook, I’ve combined the recipe (and translated into English) with some elements from a classic French onion soup preparation; the base is made with Japanese soup stock (dashi) which is a great option for non-beef eaters; Japanese rice cake is used instead of classic baguette toasts. You will be pleasantly surprised…Enjoy (OO)!
Ingredients (serves 2 as a hearty meal, 4 as a starter)
Two medium size yellow onions (thinly sliced), 1 teaspoon unsalted organic butter, 2 teaspoon olive oil, 1 bay leaf, Japanese mochi (store-bought packaged rice cake – 2 to 4), Gruyère cheese (finely grated – 1 to 2 Tablespoons), 4 cups dashi (I made my own using kombu (kelp) and katsuobushi (bonito flakes), can use instant bonito stock packages), Japanese sake 2 Tablespoon, 2 Tablespoon organic soy sauce, pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
***see my June 16th ” Napa Shiitake Mushroom Tomato Soup” notes on Japanese soup stock (dashi)
– In a 6 quart pot over medium heat, melt butter and add olive oil. Stir in the onions and season lightly with sea salt and few grinds of black pepper.
– Reduce to low heat, press a piece of foil onto the onions to cover them completely and cover the pot with the lid. Stir occasionally (lift the foil) and cook until the onions are very soft but not falling apart, it takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the lid and foil, raise the heat to medium high and add Japanese sake (rice wine), gently stir often and cook onions until they are deeply browned (not burnt), approximately 10 minutes.
– Over medium high heat, add dashi broth, soy sauce and bay leaf to the caramelized onions and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes to blend the flavours. Discard the bay leaf, season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.
– While soup is simmering, prepare the Japanese mochi – remove rice cake from individual packages, using a paring knife, make a small “slit” (or X mark) in the middle of each rice cake.
Fill the saucepan (make sure it’s big enough for 2 to 4 mochi and there’s enough room they won’t stick together) with cold water, submerge the mochi and turn on the heat to medium high. Gently stir and move the rice cakes around to ensure they don’t stick to the pan. Once the water comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium low and let it simmer for a couple minutes. Take them out when they begin to melt.
– Place the rice cakes in shallow baking dish and be sure to allow sufficient space between them without touching (the rice cake will expand as it bakes in the oven). Sprinkle the grated Gruyère cheese over the rice cakes, place baking dish in oven, position the rack from the broiler and heat broiler to high. At this point you have to be very careful not to burn them; keep very close watch and after a while they will start to puff, broil until they are browned and bubbly. Remove from oven.
– Ladle the hot soup in each bowl and gently place baked rice cake on top. Serve immediately.
– The soup can be made up to 2 days ahead and store in refrigerator; reheat soup and bake Japanese rice cake when ready to serve.
– You can find the rice cakes at Japanese food stores; in Vancouver, my go to place is Fujiya (912 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC ).
– As always taste the dish while you’re cooking and adjust the seasoning according to your own taste and dietary requirements. For cheese lovers, be generous with the Gruyère! I bought my aged Gruyère from one of my favourite stores, Les Amis Du Fromage (843 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC).