Roasted Basler Flour Soup (Basler Mehlsuppe)

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It has been a long day at work and I am finally back in my room. Even though its considered pre-summer now, the weather still fluctuates like the chances of winning in a lottery. Right now it is cold and wet, with icy winds blowing in from the lake next door (yes I live right next to a lake). The mountains that surround the town I am in are covered in snow again, and the sky has gone from the usual blue to grey, constantly shrouded by low clouds and mist.

I have to be very honest. I am not a fan of this soup. But on a cold day like this, and with nothing much that I can cook with, I have to admit that it is an extremely practical and convenient soup to make. Some Swiss even use it as an early morning hangover cure after a night (or two) of alcohol guzzling over the weekends.

Roasted Basler flour soup originates in the city of Basel, a Swiss city that shares a border with both France and Germany. Being a border city, Basel has enjoyed being a trading hub since historical times. And one of the main imports coming into the city before being sent off to the rest of Switzerland was white wheat flour. A luxury for most Swiss at that time but a rather common product in Basel back then. Having a surplus and enjoying a lower price of white wheat flour compared to other parts of Switzerland, the Baslers created a soup that was both filling and easy to make. Trust me, it may not be the best of taste, but it works just fine on a cold night (or early morning). When all you have is a chill in your bones and a stomach swollen with nothing but a near sub-zero bottle worth of gin and vodka.

Roasted Basler Flour Soup

basler flour soup
Makes: 1.5 Litres
Ingredients

  • 60g clarified butter (use normal butter if its more convenient but take care not to burn it)
  • 500g white onions, peeled and chopped
  • 250g white wheat flour,  roasted gently in a non-stick pan or slow oven until evenly brown. COOL flour before using
  • 2 litres instant beef broth or stock (I prefer to use boiling water mixed with instant stock powder)
  • 250g red wine (any cheap or trashy one will do)
  • Salt to taste (or you can increase the amount of stock powder for saltiness, it gives it a rounder flavor)
  • 75g grated hard cheese (Sbrinz or Gruyere is used here in Switzerland but if unavailable, substitute with grated Parmesan or Romano)

Steps

  • On a medium heat, sweat the onions in a pot with the butter but try not to colour or caramelize it. If you do so by accident (or intentionally), its no issue. You will probably get an added sweetness to the soup
  • Dust the browned flour into the pot and mix it well. Then add the beef broth/stock in batches, constantly stirring to break any lumps that form from the flour
  • Bring the soup to the boil and add the red wine. Skim off any foam or scum that rises to the top and allow to simmer for an hour. Stirring occasionally to prevent any flour from sticking and burning at the base of the pot
  • Strain soup through a not-too-fine sieve and ladle into a few bowls or deep plates
  • Sprinkle with cheese and serve
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