Cooking, Soup, Vegetarian
comments 7

Onion & Thyme Leaf Soup

The Ballymaloe Cookery Course is a fantastic book containing 1175 recipes, 370 variations and more than 100 basic skills from staple recipes that are quick and easy, to master recipes with twists to change them and more complex challenging dishes. There are many irish recipes and international recipes also, it’s more a culinary bible than a book and would be well placed in any kitchen. It is written by Darina Allen, the co-founder and one of the teacher’s at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, Ireland. She’s the Irish answer to Delia Smith and a promoter of slow food and traditional cooking techniques. The cookery school is famous and has been the first step for many in a culinary career. It’s located in the middle of its own 100-acre organic farm outside Cork City, in an idyllic location near the coast.I am offering this cookbook as part of the prize I have donated for Menu for Hope 4 so, I thought that I should cook something from it to show you how lovely it is. I have chosen something very simple and quick as I had very little time yesterday. It was delicious, very rich and flavoursome, a perfect winter soup. The devil is in the detail as always, covering the potato and onion with the paper while it sweats really concentrates the flavour, be sure to do it. I used a chicken stock but a nice rich veggie stock would be great with this too, I just used what I had to hand.


Serves 6 approx

450g (1 lb) chopped onions
225g (9 oz) chopped potatoes
45g (2 oz) butter
1-2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
900ml (2 pints) homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
150ml (1/3 pint) cream or cream and milk mixed, approx

fresh thyme leaves and thyme or chive flowers


Peel and chop the onions and potatoes into small dice, about 1 cm.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. As soon as it foams, add the onions and potatoes, stir until they are coated with the butter. Add the thyme leaves, season with S&P.

Place a paper lid (I used baking paper) on top of the vegetables directly to keep in the steam. Cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid and sweat on a low heat for 10 minutes or so. The potatoes and onions should be soft but not coloured.

Add the stock, bring it to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are cooked – about 5-8 minutes. Liquidise the soup and add a little cream or creamy milk. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.

Serve, sprinkled with thyme leaves.

For information on how to donate and enter a raffle to win this book, please see the Menu for Hope – Raffle announcement & prize post.




  1. That looks and sounds lovely. I saw someone using the baking paper method on TV recently and have been meaning to try it.

  2. Thanks Ginger. Yeah, it really works. We used to do it in Home Economics in school, only we used butter wrappers. It worked a treat! Plus it made it extra buttery :)

  3. Naomi says

    Funny you should mention the butter wrapper technique Niamh. That’s what Darina used to make us use at the cookery school. Though I always end up cutting through my butter wrappers so have to ‘waste’ parchment paper.

    By the way, this is a lovely site. Just came across it because of Menu for Hope.

  4. Hi Naomi – thanks! Must be an Irish thing :)

    I didn’t have a butter wrapper to hand as I was experimenting with buffalo butter which was in a smaller unsuitable wrapper, so, I used parchment this time.

    Did you do the 12 week certificate course? I have always wanted to do it…

  5. I have a little pot of thyme that is growing much more quickly than I can think of recipes to use it for. This is perfect timing. Thanks!
    P.S. You have a lovely name, which I had never heard of until my husband and I rented Ballykissangel. We just loved that show, well until all the leads left.

  6. This sounds heavenly. Interesting to see that thyme is having a blog moment – it seems to be all over at the moment and I have a roasted root vegetable soup with thyme waiting to be blogged in my drafts folder. Interestign idea with the paper and the onions – I’m going to have to try that!

  7. It’s very good. Thyme is such a winter herb and it’s one of the plants that I thought I couldn’t kill, except for, well, I did…

    Looking forward to seeing yours :-)

Over to you! Your comments - I would love to hear from you :)