Butterbeer & Kreacher Comforts

My son, Flynn, is something of a Harry Potter fanatic. We originally read the seven books together when he was in kindergarten and first grade, and the moment we’d finished, he promptly launched back into them and read them all over again. He’s now 10, and is in the process of re-reading the 759-page seventh book, “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows” — for the ninth time.

Flynn at the barber shop with his book while Dad gets his hair cut

Flynn at the barber shop with his book while Dad gets his hair cut

Every so often, he gets out his Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook — composed mostly of foods actually mentioned in the books — and finds things he’d like to make. Usually it’s something sweet, often “Rockcakes,” the scone-like lumps served by the gentle giant Hagrid when Harry and his friends would visit him in his groundskeeper hut. But on a lazy Sunday afternoon, he had something else in mind.

“I want a Harry Potter lunch today!” he said, handing me the cookbook, open to a page that read “Kreacher’s French Onion Soup.” I puzzled — was this kid, who had poked and prodded his meals since he was a toddler to make certain there were no errant onions present, actually asking me for French onion soup!?

Kreacher

Kreacher

“Yes,” he confirmed, “It sounds yummy. And some butterbeer, too!” he added, referring to the sweet concoction the kids in Harry Potter drink when they visit the fictional village of Hogsmeade.

My immediate impulse was to say no — it was a somewhat involved process making French onion soup, and I was already in the middle of putting together a paella for a dinner party in a few hours. Plus, there was leftover mac & cheese in the fridge! But then, I had to remind myself: Your picky son has just asked you to make French onion soup for lunch!!!

“Sure,” I said, “I’ll make you that!”

The butterbeer — essentially cream soda with a caramely, marshmallowy whipped cream head — took awhile to figure out, as there was no recipe in the book but plenty online. For the soup, I glanced over Kreacher’s recipe, but decided to forgo the house elf’s version (which included no white wine and used parmesan instead of gruyere) and simply make my own.

For Flynn, it would be as much about the Potteresque ceremony of the meal as the food itself. So while he sat at the dining room table reading “Deathly Hallows” and waiting, I got out a bevelled glass beer mug and one of the lidded ceramic tureens I’ve had for decades that I’ve only ever used for two things — country pate, and French onion soup. The relatively minor efforts of my labor were more than rewarded by the wide eyes and beaming smile on my son’s face when I brought his meal to the table.

Validation that I’d made a good choice came the next morning, when I discovered an entire photo shoot of Flynn’s Harry Potter lunch on my iPhone, not taken by my hand. And I realized I had the makings of a pretty good post for my blog.

French onion soup, butterbeer  and "Deathly Hallows" — photo by Flynn

French onion soup, butterbeer and “Deathly Hallows” — photo by Flynn

If you’ve got your own Harry Potter fanatic and want to make him or her really happy — or simply feel like a nice bowl of French onion soup and a sickly sweet beverage to go with it — here you go!

Enjoy.

*    *    *

Butterbeer
serves 4

4 bottles of cream soda, chilled
3/4 tsp. rum extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 heaping tbsp. powdered sugar
3 large marshmallows

Pour each of a bottle of cream soda into two mugs, and add a few drops of rum extract — about 1/2 tsp. split between the four — to each.

Toast  your marshmallows in a toaster oven or 400-degree oven until soft and beginning to brown lightly. Place whipping cream, powdered sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp. rum extract in a large bowl and whip until beginning to firm. Add softened marshmallows and continue whipping, incorporating marshmallows, until firm.

Top each cream soda with a heaping scoop of the “head” and serve.

*    *    *

French onion soup
serves 4

2 quarts homemade chicken or beef stock
4 tbsp. butter
2 brown onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. flour
1/2 cup white wine
4 thick slices crusty bread such as baguette or ciabatta
1/2 cup grated gruyere or other swiss cheese
salt & freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onions and sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and beginning to caramelize — about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in flour and stir until incorporated. Add stock and wine, lower heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 40 minutes.

Remove soup from heat. Adjust seasoning with salt pepper.

Spoon soup into four ovenproof bowls or tureens. Place a slice of bread in each, and top with the grated cheese. Broil in the oven for 5 or so minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly, just beginning to brown. Serve.

(If you don’t have ovenproof bowls, you can toast the cheese-topped bread in the oven instead, and place in the soup afterward.)

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeyna Grace
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 02:56:13

    Sounds like he had an awesome meal!

    Reply

  2. jewel
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 12:24:29

    Go Dad! 🙂

    Reply

  3. Mom
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 17:36:13

    I LOVE that picture of Flynn. I made onion soup too yesterday.

    Reply

  4. Dana Fashina
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 19:13:51

    Haha! Love your ‘kreature’ pic!

    Reply

  5. Michelle
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 23:31:16

    So sweet.

    Reply

  6. thelittlelibrarycafe
    Sep 06, 2014 @ 00:29:16

    How lovely! If he ever fancies a taste of the back to school feast, treacle tart was what I always dreamed of!
    http://thelittlelibrarycafe.com/2014/03/01/treacle-tart-harry-potter-and-the-philosophers-stone/

    Reply

  7. rnbarlo
    Sep 09, 2014 @ 11:21:41

    Which HP fan wouldn’t love this meal?

    Reply

    • scolgin
      Sep 09, 2014 @ 13:44:16

      Yes, except now of course, he wants to plan a whole Harry Potter feast and invite all his friends to wear their robes and get sorted. {:-\

      Reply

  8. JamTokyo
    Sep 20, 2014 @ 07:26:37

    this blog is amazing!!

    Reply

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