Onion and mustard seed soup with cheddar croute and topside biltong

Onion & mustard seed soup with cheddar croûte and topside biltong

The humble onion shines through in this recipe which will prove to be a classic no-hassle winter warmer. It's easy on the eye, delicious and budget-friendly. Onion soup can easily be the star of the show or worked into your dinner party as a starter or soup course. However you choose to present it, you won't be disappointed.
The recipe combines the flavours of beef, onion and a sharp cheddar to warm the cockles of the heart this winter. We have veered slghtly from the traditional French style by replacing baguette and gruyere with ciabatta and cheddar, but you will find this version to be a refreshing change with a uniquely South African twist. The addition of biltong brings that aged beef flavour bursting into the mix, all accentuated by fresh herbs and the distinctive pop of mustard seed. A true winter classic!
This isn't a complicated recipe. However, results can vary greatly if the methodology isn't closely adhered to, so sticking to the steps is key, especially when cooking the onions. That being said, it's a relatively no-frills recipe and great fun to put together.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 4


  • Chopping board
  • Sharp knife
  • Wooden spoon
  • Large pot


  • 700 g Onion
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Muscovado sugar
  • 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 350 ml Red wine
  • 1000 ml Beef stock
  • 20 g Mustard seed
  • 1 sprig Rosemary
  • 5 g Parsley
  • 5 g Fennel
  • 1 tbsp brown onion soup powder
  • 200 g Sols topside biltong
  • 100 g Gays regal mature cheddar cheese
  • 1 Sols Ciabatta loaf
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Peel the onions and cut in half, remove the hard root and slice as thinly as possible. Clean the garlic, chop finely and keep to one side with onions.
  • Place a large saucepot on the range and allow the pot to gain some heat. Add the olive oil and then immeduately add onions and garlic. Allow the onions to brown evenly, and then turn the heat down.
  • Add the muscovado sugar and allow the onions to cook and caramelize for 7-10 minutes. It's important that they start breaking down, sticking to the bottom of the pan so that their flavour intensifies.
  • Now it's time to ramp up the heat until it feels dangerous! The onions are going to start sticking a lot to the bottom of the pan leaving it brown (if you're burning to the bottom you've gone too far). When you are starting to think that you may be in trouble, deglaze the pot with red wine. It should lift nicely from the bottom of the pot and all that flavour is going to create the epic foundation of an epic broth. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer.
  • Mix the onion soup powder thoroughly into your stock and add the combined mixture to your pot. This stage is all about reduction. Leave this on a gentle simmer reducing down for another 20-30 minutes. After this, add finely chopped rosemary.
  • Slice ciabatta into 1.5cm thick slices. Grate your cheddar cheese, chop the parsley and mix it together, you may also crack in some black pepper to this mix – it takes it to the next level. Lay out the ciabatta onto baking paper, sprinkle the cheese mix generously atop the bread and gratinate under the grill.
  • Chop up the fennel finely and mix into the soup just before serving. Serve the soup hot, with crunchy cheddar ciabatta croute and garnish with topside beef biltong.


  • Don’t cook the biltong, merely add at the end as a garnish.
  • If you do not allow the onion to break down at the start your sauce will not be voluminous and flavourful. In addition, you will have a disproportionate ratio of strange crunchy textured onion to broth.
Keyword soup, warm, Winter

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