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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Butternut Squash Soup

One of my favorite soups to make during the fall season is butternut squash soup.  It is very healthful as Rachel Ray would say.  It is simple and to make and easy on the waistline.  In fact, I usually use this as my afternoon snack instead of reaching for a carb.

Ingredients

Two butternut squash (peeled and cut into cubes), one diced onion, two quarts of chicken stock, olive oil, nutmeg, black pepper, and salt

Directions

1. Coat the bottom of a soup pot with olive oil.  Sauté onion with a touch of salt until tender.

2. Add the butternut squash to the pot.  Add chicken stock to cover the squash.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the squash is tender.

3.  Once the squash is tender, use an immersion blender to puree the contents of the pot.  If you do not have an immersion blender, you can place small batches of the soup in a regular blender.  Be careful not to fill it too full because you don’t want a squash explosion.

4.  Once the soup is pureed, add fresh ground nutmeg and black pepper to your liking.

Traveling to Tuscany in a Bowl

During the Lenten season, my church has soup suppers on Wednesday night.  I usually bring a pot of soup to church twice a year for this event.  One of my favorite things to do is to take a recipe and adapt it in order to please the masses.  I went on the Food Network website and found a delicious recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup by Emeril Lagasse.  It sounds delicious but there were a few things that I needed to change.  I didn’t think the general population at my church would enjoy chickpeas and I wanted to cut down the cost by eliminating the pancetta.  I knew I needed to make a larger batch than what the recipe provided so I kept that in mind when I went to the grocery store.  While there, I saw that Bob Evans sage sausage was on sale for $1.99 so I knew that would sub out the pancetta and save me money.  Here’s how I made the soup and it is sure to please.

Ingredients

1 package Bob Evans sage sausage, 2 yellow onions (diced), 3 stalks celery (diced), 3 carrots (diced), 4 cloves garlic (minced), 28oz canned diced tomatoes, 3 15 oz cans cannellini beans,  1 15 oz can kidney beans, 2 1/2 quarts chicken stock, 2 sprigs rosemary (minced), 5 sprigs thyme, 2 bay leaves, sprinkle of crushed pepper, 1 head kale (cut into bite size pieces)

Directions

1. Brown sausage in the bottom of a large stock pot. 2.  Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook until tender. 3. Add diced tomatoes, beans, and stock.  Let it come to a simmer. 4. Add rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and crushed pepper.  When the soup is complete, be sure to pull out the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves.  Continue cooking until the beans and vegetable are tender. 5.  Add the kale and cook until tender.  Enjoy!