Sunday, January 23, 2011

French Onion Soup

In the theme of hearty, winterizing meals, I made some absolutely delicious French onion soup for myself and my coworker Jess before the holidays.  It was nice to have some guests over on a Thursday night to watch Big Bang Theory... why not dinner and a show?  It's nice to have Snickers around, too, to put my cat Chief in her place.

Ready for company... Soup, crudités, and sundried tomato and herb bean dip.  Don't forget the vino!
I really enjoy French onion soup.  It's so simple (and cheap!!) to make, but it has such a depth of flavour from the soft, caramelized onions.  Plus, it presents a PERFECT excuse to use my mandolin!  No way in heck I'd want to slice all those onions so thinly by hand... this just speeds up the process (and reduces the time I spend "crying" over the pot).  If you don't have a mandolin, the recipe would still work with manual knife-slicing... I'd just recommend unearthing some goggles from your old swimming lesson days prior to!!  I think Chef Michael Smith once hinted on his show that contact lenses decrease the teariness... I have yet to test this theory.  I'll let you know.

Mmm... Cheesy... Bread-y... Delicious...

French Onion Soup
Adapted from "Living the G.I. Diet" by Emily Richards and Rick Gallop

Makes 4 servings
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 6 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 6 cups beef stock (low fat, low sodium)
  • 1/2 cup red wine (sometimes I use white... whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 Tbsp dry sherry or cognac (in a pinch, I've even used rum...)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 slices crusty French bread or baguette
  • 1 cup shredded light-style Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese (for this batch, all I had was cheddar and mozzarella, so I used a blend)
  1. In soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Cook onions, garlic, and salt, stirring ften, for about 10 minutes or until they start to brown.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until onions are very golden, caramelized, and very soft.  Add flour and stir to coat onions for 1 minute.
  2. Add beef stock, wine, sherry, bay leaf and pepper; bring to boil (make sure you scrape up all the lovely bits on the bottom of the pan).  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove bay leaf.
  3. Pour soup into desired bowls.  Place bread on top to fit bowls and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake in 400ºF oven for about 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.  Broil for 30 seconds to brown top.

Looking back, I find it hard to believe that I used to hate onions.  As a kid, I can actually remember claiming that I was allergic to mushrooms and onions so I could avoid eating them (my cousins saw right through my claims... but I thought with all the hoopla surrounding Ni's food allergies, I could squeak by).  I'm not sure when I started to actually like onions, which is why I'll occasionally re-try things I dislike (read: olives, mushrooms, peppers) to see if my tastes have broadened.  I'm just glad they did in this case... I'd hate to miss out on this onion-y goodness.  Though, to be fair, there are still some onion applications I don't like... I can't see myself ever partaking in one of Hubs' cooking-onion-and-yellow-mustard-on-Wonderbread sandwiches.  *Shudders*

Hoping she'll be able to convince Hubs to save the onions for soup instead,

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