Soup Season in Full Swing

I vividly remember the first time I had French Onion Soup.  I was 11 or 12 years old and I was at my best friend’s brother’s Bar Mitzvah.  The party after the ceremony was at The Cranbury Inn, probably the only legitimate sit down restaurant in our town.  We were served the soup in the tradition soup crocks coated with melted cheese.  I had never seen such a thing.  I was not much for soup when I was younger, so this concept was foreign to me.

I immediately asked my best friend what it was, and she gave me a “duh” look, and said “it’s French Onion Soup.”  I was definitely taken by the spectacle of the cheese melted over the bread on top.  Forget the onions and the broth, bread and cheese is good stuff!

It took me a few years to learn to appreciate the soup in it’s entirety aside from the traditional garnish.  Now it’s a tempting option every time I see it on a menu.  It has certainly become a comfort food for me, and a half decent French Onion Soup can make for a great day.

I was at Panera recently, having my typical debate between options and I then I saw French Onion Soup on the soup list.  I pulled an audible at the register and ordered the soup.  Even though it was just Panera soup, it really hit the spot and inspired me to give it a try at home.

French Onion Soup

Recipe from Tyler Florence 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle
  • 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • 1/2 pound grated Gruyere (plus I added some parmesan)

Method

  1. Heat up soup pot on medium heat on the stove and melt the stick of butter.
  2. Once the butter is melted, throw in the onions, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper.  Cook the onions about 25 minutes until soft and slightly caramelized.
  3. Add wine, bring to a boil and cook until liquid has mostly dissolved.  About 5 minutes.
  4. Pull out the thyme and bay leaves and add flour to pot.  Stir and cook for about 10 minutes then add beef broth.
  5. Simmer soup for at least 10 minutes before serving.
  6. Slice and toast baguette (I made croutons) and serve soup topped with bread and cheese on top in the traditional fashion.

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Green and Loving It

I’ll tell you a secret.  I love a green vegetable.  My two favorite green vegetables are probably broccoli and green beans.  The topic at hand today is the green bean.  The key with the green bean in my mind is that they are cooked but still crunchy.  I’m not a fan of the mushy green beans that are either cooked to death or canned.  A couple years ago I took inspiration from a few different recipes that I saw from various sources and started making a fabulous green bean dish.  This dish has since become a staple at important eating occasions in my family, including a spot at the most important eating occasion: Thanksgiving.

If I were you, I would give this recipe a test run in the next couple of months and you might be convinced to replace a side dish at your own Thanksgiving feast.

Green Beans with Caramelized Onions and Almonds

Serves 4, scale up as needed

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbs butter (or I used bacon fat this past time)
  • 1 medium onion sliced in half or quarter moons (white or yellow)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lb of raw green beans
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • seasoning to taste

Method

  1. Heat a medium sized frying pan on low heat.  Melt butter in pan.  Add sliced onion, then minced garlic.  Allow to cook on low heat until the onion caramelizes and turns a nice brown color.  About 30-45 minutes.
  2. When the onions are close to done, blanch the green beans.  This is done by adding them to boiling water, allow to cook for 4-5 minutes, then transfer beans to an ice bath (bowl with ice water and room for the beans).  The transfer to the ice water will stop the cooking process and leave the beans crunchy.
  3. Meanwhile, give your sliced almonds a quick toast over low heat in a pan on the stove.  This should only take a few minutes, don’t let them get too brown!
  4. When you feel you have reached a good level of caramelization with the onions, add the green beens and almonds to the onions and mix them up.  Give it a sample and season to taste.  Then enjoy!