This Bramley apple soup is like the classic French onion soup. It is an ideal recipe to showcase some wonderful Irish artisan producers.

I visited Highbank Orchard in Kilkenny a while back and was hugely impressed by the work they are doing. They produce a beautiful cider vinegar.

For blue cheese you could try Cashel Blue or Crozier Blue produced in Tipperary. And, as you know, I am a great fan of Carol’s Stock Market in Derry.

Have a look at her website, and she delivers all over Ireland. This soup is ideal if you want to cook gluten free.

Medjool dates are the king of dates with that delicious caramel treacly taste. This is good with any sweet white wine. For the custard you may make your own or buy a ready-made one. This is a super easy delicious dessert that I come back to time and again.

Happy cooking


Learn to Cook with Neven is out now published by Gill Books.


Bramley apple and onion soup with crumbled Cashel blue

Baked apples with Medjool dates. \ Photography: Claire Nash. Food styling: Janine Kennedy

Serves six

50g (2oz) butter

1kg (2 ¼lb) onions, roughly chopped

2 Bramley apples

500ml (18fl oz) medium dry cider

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Pinch of dried thyme

½ a bay leaf

2 litres (3 ½ pints) chicken stock from a cube is fine)

225g (8oz) potatoes, peeled and diced

1 onion, thinly sliced (to use as a garnish)

75 g (3oz) Cashel blue cheese

Handful fresh chervil sprigs

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Heat a heavy-based pan over medium heat. Add 40g (1 ½oz) of the butter, then tip in the chopped onions and allow to cook gently for about 15 minutes, or until they are softened and lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

2 Peel the apples and remove the cores, then roughly chop and toss in a little of the cider to prevent discoloration. Deglaze the pan with the remaining cider and the apple cider vinegar. Add the apples and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the cider has reduced by half.

  • 3 Add the thyme to the pan with the bay leaf, the stock, potato and season with a little salt. Bring to a simmer, and then cook for another 15 minutes or until the potato is completely tender, stirring occasionally. Remove the bay leaf from the pan and whiz the soup to a puree with a hand blender or in batches in the food processor. Season to taste.
  • 4 To make the garnish, heat the remaining butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion slices until softened and just beginning to colour around the edges. To serve, reheat the soup gently and ladle into warm bowls. Crumble 1 tbsp of the Cashel blue into each bowl. Garnish with the fried onion slices and chervil sprigs to serve.
  • Baked apples with Medjool dates

    Serves four

    4 Bramley cooking apples, each about 300g (11oz)

    50g (2oz) butter

    50g (2oz) Medjool dates, finely diced

    2 tbsp light brown sugar

    2 tbsp brandy

    Custard, to serve (can be store-bought)

    Icing sugar, to decorate

  • 1 Preheat the oven to fan 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4). Remove the centre core from each apple and then run the tip of a sharp knife around the circumference of each one, just piercing the skin – this helps stop them bursting whilst cooking. Grease a 23cm (9in) square ovenproof dish that will fit the apples comfortably with 15g (½oz) of the butter.
  • 2 Place the remaining butter in a mini blender or food processor with the dates and brown sugar. Whizz to a thick purée and then use to fill the prepared apples. Arrange in the buttered dish and sprinkle around the brandy.
  • 3 Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the apples are completely tender but still holding their shape and covering the tops of the apples with small pieces of foil if they start to brown too quickly.
  • 4 Transfer the apples to warmed wide-rimmed bowls set on plates and spoon around the custard. Decorate with a good dusting of icing sugar to serve.