What with everything else both to eat and prepare over Christmas, elaborate first courses seem to be to be quite unnecessary. On the other hand, a good soup is a perfect start to a lunch or supper of cold turkey, meats or pâtés. Soups can, of course, be made ahead and re-heated very quickly, which makes them all the more practical for the Christmas period. This is an excellent, creamy winter soup of walnuts and soft, sweet onion that goes well with all Christmassy foods.
Peel the onion, cut it in half and slice it as thinly as possible. Put the olive oil with the butter in a large, heavy saucepan and melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or so until it is softened and slightly browned. Meanwhile, put the walnut pieces in a food processor and grind them finely; don’t leave the machine on too long or the nuts will stick together and become oily.
When the onion has softened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the caster sugar, the ground mace and the ground walnuts. Then stir in the flour. Gradually add the chicken or turkey stock and the milk. Put the saucepan back on the heat and bring it to the boil, stirring frequently. Let it bubble, stirring all the time for 2-3 minutes; then cover the pan and let it simmer very gently for 20 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste with black pepper and salt. Before serving, stir the chopped parsley into the soup, and, when it has been ladled out into soup plates, spoon some soured cream on to the soup in each plate.
© 1978 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.