French Onion Soup

French onion soup is definitely the perfect solution for being holed up on a snowy weekend.  This soup is so easy to make and tastes so good when you use good ingredients.  I followed Deb’s recipe on smittenkitchen.com, which is pretty much similar to other recipes but with a few extra details like most of her recipes.  Caramelizing the onions for a long time and using Gruyere cheese produces a first rate product.

five cups of onions. about 2 1/2 of the big ones.
the onions after 15 minutes
the onions after 1 hour just before adding the liquid. I probably could have done them a little longer to get them just a bit darker but they were getting very sticky and I didn’t want to burn them.
I toasted the bread in a 400 degree oven, turning them every five minutes until they were very hard. Don’t use un-toasted bread or it will turn to mush.
ridiculously expensive… but so worth it.
into the oven they go
Olivia Newton John enjoying her soup.

I pretty much followed the recipe below except I didn’t add the raw onion and the cognac at the end. It turned out perfectly.

From: www.smittenkitchen.com

Onion Soup [Soupe à l’Oignon]
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking

1 1/2 pounds (680 grams or 24 ounces or about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tablespoons (42 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt, plus additional to taste
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) granulated sugar (helps the onions to brown)
3 tablespoons (24 grams or 7/8 ounce) all-purpose flour
2 quarts (8 cups or 1.9 liters) beef or other brown stock*
1/2 cup (118 ml) dry white wine or dry white vermouth
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons (45 ml) cognac or brandy (optional)

To finish [Gratinée] (Optional)
1 tablespoon grated raw onion
1 to 2 cups (to taste) grated Swiss (I often use Gruyere) or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a 4- to 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to real low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes. They don’t need your attention; you can even go check your email.

After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup. Plus, from here on out, it will be a cinch.

After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed. Correct seasonings if needed but go easy on the salt as the cheese will add a bit more saltiness and I often accidentally overdo it. Stir in the cognac, if using. I think you should.

Set aside until needed. I find that homemade onion soup is so deeply fragrant and flavor-rich that it can stand alone, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the graitinéed top once in a while. Here’s how to pull it off:

Preheat oven to 325. Arrange six ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bring the soup back to a boil and divide among six bowls. To each bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon grated raw onion and a tablespoon of grated cheese. Stir to combine. Dab your croutons with a tiny bit of butter and float a few on top of your soup bowls, attempting to cover it. Mound grated cheese on top of it; how much you use will be up to you. [Julia Child, in another era, felt that 1/2 cup of grated cheese could be divided among 6 bowls. I can assure you that if you’d like your gooey bubbling cheese lid to be anything like what you get at your local French restaurant, you are looking to use more, such as a generous 1/4 cup.]

Bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler. Finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly. Grab pot holders, and serve immediately.

* Porcini or mushroom stock are a robust vegetarian substitution.

Senate Bean Soup

We have been making this soup for years whenever we have left over ham and a ham bone.  It always tastes better the next day.

Senate Bean Soup

Soup Suppers, Arthur Schwartz

  • 1 lb. dried white beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 small ham hock (we usually use the left over bone from a ham)
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 to 8 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves
  1. Soak the rinsed beans overnight in cold water to cover by several inches. (we usually skip this as we aren’t thinking that much ahead.  Just a couple of hours soak helps though if you have time).
  2. In a 5 to 6 quart pot, combine the drained beans, ham hock, and water.  Cover and bring to a boil; adjust the heat, partially cover, and simmer briskly until the beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the onion, celery, garlic, potato, salt and pepper.  Keep at a steady simmer another hour, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender and the soup is very thick.
  4. Remove the ham hock and, if desired, strip the meat off the bones and put into soup. (we usually add more left over ham if we have it)
  5. Serve piping hot.

Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream

A tasty recipe for butternut soup

Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream

Bon Appetit, November 1998

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1/2 cup chopped peeled carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried sage leaves
  • 5 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

1/2 cup whipping cream
Chopped fresh chives

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, leeks, carrot and celery; sauté until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Mix in apples, thyme and sage. Add stock and 1 cup cider and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until apples are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.
Working in batches, purée soup in blender. Return soup to pan. Boil remaining 1/2 cup cider in heavy small saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Cool. Place sour cream in small bowl. Whisk in reduced cider. (Soup and cider cream can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate.)
Bring soup to simmer. Mix in whipping cream. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle with cider cream. Top with chives.

White Bean Soup with Pasta and Rosemary Oil

(we usually skip the rosemary oil… but i’m sure it’s good)

For Rosemary oil:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 T. finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced.

Warm simmer these ingredients in small saucepan, approx. 5 minute

For soup:

  • 2 cups cannellini beans/navy beans or mix
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. fresh rosemary or 2 tsp. dried
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/3 cup parsley
  • 1 c. diced tomatoes with juice
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 c. small dried pasta
  • parmesan cheese

1.  Heat oil, 1 T. rosemary in soup pot.  Add onion, carrot, celery.   Saute for 10 minutes.  Add garlic, parsley, simmer.  Add beans, tomatoes., 3 quarts water, boil, then simmer approx. 1 hour.  Add 2 tsp. salt, simmer 30 minutes longer.
2. . Puree the soup
3. Cook pasta, strain rosemary oil.
4. Soup into bowls, add pasta to each, drizzle with rosemary oil, sprinkle with parmesan, serve.

Spinach Yogurt Soup

Evie Davis

  • 1 small minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 packages frozen spinach
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • ½ cup uncooked rice
  • 2 cups plain yogurt

Sauté onion and garlic in small amount of oil in large pot.  Add spinach and cook down with the onion and garlic for a few minutes.  Add the broth, salt, pepper, seasoned salt etc..  (Season well – yogurt will neutralize flavor).  Add rice.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until rice and spinach are tender.  Turn off heat and let soup cool down to almost room temperature.  Whisk the yogurt for a minute or two and slowly pour and mix into the soup.  Reheat the soup slowly at low heat as the yogurt will curdle if brought to the boiling point.  (If the yogurt does curdle, the soup is still good).  Can also be eaten cold or at room temperature.