Onion and Mushroom Soup with Garlic Ciabatta Croutons Recipe inspiration: Coles Magazine – Curtis StoneWinter in Australia is one of my favourite times of the year – mainly because the weather is cooler and it reminds me of my UK home. Imagine cosy forest pubs, crackling log fires and crisp wintry walks – you honestly can’t beat it. Although Australian winters are much milder than winters in the UK, it provides the perfect walking conditions and also means I don’t look like a bright red strawberry who’s constantly dripping in sweat! Trust me, it’s not a good look.In regards to food, winter means soup time! I absolutely love soup – it’s so nourishing and warming and the perfect comfort food accompanied by a thick crunchy slice of wholemeal bread. Plus, soup is generally cheap to make, you can make it in bulk and it’s super easy to prepare.I recently came across Curtis Stone’s Mushroom and Onion Soup recipe which looked ‘souper’ (excuse the pun) delicious and I had to try it. Similar to French onion soup, minus the gruyere cheese, I’ve made a few small alterations to the recipe so I hope you enjoy my version. Plus, it’s dairy free (though definitely not carb free!).Ideal for a cheap midweek dinner with that crusty loaf of bread or serve as an appetiser. You can even have it for lunch the next day or freeze any extra. And if you have been out walking in the cold, a bowl of hot, steaming soup will do just the trick to warm you up.Onion and Mushroom Soup with Garlic Ciabatta Croutons | Serves 4 | Easy | 2 hoursIngredients185ml (3/4 cup) olive oil, divided3 large brown onions, sliced coarsely600g mushrooms, roughly chopped (a selection of cup mushrooms, brown Portabella mushrooms and King Trumpet mushrooms)6 thyme sprigs1 bay leaf375ml (1 ½ cups) dry white wine1 litre (4 ¼ cups) chicken stock (or vegetable stock)500ml (2 cups) water4 x 3cm-wide strips of lemon peel1 tbsp Dijon mustard1 tbsp soy sauce2 small rosemary sprigs, leaves picked5 garlic cloves, peeled1 sourdough bread, broken up into 2cm piecesSalt and pepper to tasteMethodHeat 60ml (1/4 cup) of olive oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 35 minutes or until starting to caramelise and turning golden brown.Add the mushrooms, thyme and bay leaf. Season with 1 tsp salt and reduce heat. Cook, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, for 10 minutes or until there is no liquid left and the vegetables are tender and browned.Add the white wine and lemon peel to the pan and simmer, stirring often, for 15 minutes or until onions have a jam-like consistency. Add 1 litre of chicken stock and 500ml of water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for 75 minutes or until flavours develop. Stir in mustard and soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper.Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper. On a cutting board, finely chop the rosemary leaves and add into a food processor along with the garlic and blitz until finely chopped.Transfer to a large bowl and stir in 1/2 tsp salt and the remaining olive oil. Add bread a piece at a time and toss to coat. Spread bread over the lined backing tray, reserving oil in the bowl. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Return the croutons to the bowl and toss with the reserved oil.Divide soup among serving bowls. Top with croutons and serve with bread on the side. Season with pepper.Craving other soup recipes? Be sure to try my Spicy Thai Pumpkin Soup Recipe as well as learn how to make the best chicken and noddle soup - perfect when you have a cold.