Belfast bound chef shares mouth-watering recipe for French Onion Soup

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World renowned chef Jean-Christophe Novelli reveals his mouth-watering recipe for French Onion Soup.

Dubbed the nation’s ‘favourite famous French chef’, Jean-Christophe Novelli announced recently plans for a Mediterranean-inspired menu for his debut restaurant in Northern Ireland.

002 Jean-Christophe Novelli ' the French-born, Belfast-bound celebrity chef ' has named local man Jim Mulholland as 'le grand chef' of his first restaurant on the island of Ireland. Pictured at the launch from L-R Jean-Christophe Novelli and Jim Mulholland, grand chef.

002 Jean-Christophe Novelli ' the French-born, Belfast-bound celebrity chef ' has named local man Jim Mulholland as 'le grand chef' of his first restaurant on the island of Ireland. Pictured at the launch from L-R Jean-Christophe Novelli and Jim Mulholland, grand chef.

The multi-Michelin-starred and 5-out-of-5 AA Rosette-winning chef has given Northern Irish produce top billing.

Set on Belfast’s waterfront, with stunning views accentuated by a double-height glazed façade and open-air terrace, the 112-seater ‘Novelli at City Quays’ restaurant will open in April as part of the all-new AC Hotel Belfast, the £25million contemporary-luxe hotel developed by Belfast Harbour in the heart of its prestigious City Quays quarter.

‘Novelli at City Quays’ will be the celebrity chef’s first restaurant on the island of Ireland, representing a key milestone for him, a major coup for Belfast’s hospitality offering, and a valuable boost to local suppliers.

“You need to have wonderful ingredients to produce wonderful food, and I have been thoroughly inspired and excited by the quality and variety of produce available to me here on my Belfast doorstep,” said Jean-Christophe Novelli.

“At ‘Novelli at City Quays’, our customers can look forward to the authentic Mediterranean-inspired cuisine I am best known for, including my famous Coq au Vin, French Onion Soup and Loin of Sugar Pit Pork, and all made with the best of locally sourced ingredients.”

Reading like a veritable Who’s Who of NI producers and processors, Abernethy Butter, Hannan Meats, Ewing’s Seafood, Yellow Door and North Down Group are just some of the local companies hand-picked by Jean-Christophe and Jim Mulholland, his Belfast grand chef, to supply the new restaurant. Even the charcuterie board features homegrown chorizo and salami, produced by Limavady-based Corndale Farm.

“It has always been my passion and my mission to source whatever I can locally, and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience to introduce our amazing local produce to such a globally celebrated chef as Jean-Christophe Novelli and to see him, in turn, become a champion of it,” said Jim Mulholland, grand chef of ‘Novelli at City Quays.’

Ahead of the highly-anticipated grand opening in April. Jean-Christophe shared his recipe for his famous French Onion Soup.

Jean-Christophe Novelli’s French Onion Soup

Ingredients

150g unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1kg red onions, thinly sliced

1 sprig fresh thyme, stalks removed

2 bay leaves

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 teaspoons caster sugar

750ml dry white wine

350ml strong beef stock, hot

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Croûtons

1 baguette

1 garlic clove, peeled

180g Gruyère cheese, sliced

freshly ground black pepper

pinch paprika

Method

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan with the oil and gently cook the onions for about 6–8 minutes or until softened.

2. Add the herbs and seasoning, sprinkle over the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the onions are melting and glossy.

3. Pour in the wine and raise the heat. Bring back to the boil and simmer to reduce for 10 minutes.

4. Add the hot stock, bring back to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes.

5. When you are ready to serve the soup, preheat the grill. Slice the baguette diagonally and dry-fry in a heavy-based pan without oil or butter. While it is toasting, rub a clove of garlic on the bottom of the pan to infuse the bread.

6. When the baguette pieces are golden brown, top with the sliced cheese, grind over the pepper, sprinkle with the paprika, and grill for 2–3 minutes (or microwave for 10 seconds) until the cheese is bubbling.

7. Just before serving the soup, add the lemon juice and stir.

8. Ladle into hot bowls and top with the cheesy croûtons. Serve immediately.

The Novelli at City Quays dish will see a twist on the classic French Onion soup recipe, with a pastry lid.