Category Archives: Soup
I eat a lot of soup in the winter, making a pot once or twice a week depending on what’s on hand and my mood. A few favorites are periodically repeated, but there are so many soup recipes out there, more often I try something new. Of course, “something new” could be a different recipe for something I know we like. French Onion Soup falls under that category. This week’s selection for Cook the Book Fridays is David Lebovitz’s version of this classic soup from his book My Paris Kitchen.
French onion soup is one of those soups where the quality of the underlying broth is key. David’s version calls for chicken broth. I had a turkey carcass in the freezer which was close enough. I got a start early in the week, making a batch of turkey stock in the slow cooker. I love making stock in the slow cooker. I can comfortably come and go while it simmers away safely without any attention required. And when I do leave the house, the aroma on returning is magnificent.
To balance the lack of attention required by the stock, caramelizing the onions for the soup calls for two hours of frequent attention. Two pounds of onions melt away to a surprisingly small pile of fragrant mush. At this point, the rest is again hands off. The onions simmer in the stock for nearly an hour before balancing the flavors with sherry vinegar, salt and pepper.
The finishing touch are the cheesy croutons that top the soup. For my bowl, I topped toasts (made from Mardi’s No Knead French Bread) with Emmenthaler cheese and broiled it. Howard prefers the cheesy toasts on the side, so I also broiled some standalone toasts on the pan alongside my bowl of soup. Everyone was happy!
This version of French Onion Soup was delicious, though it wasn’t noticeably different from other versions I’ve made. I suppose that’s the thing with a classic – as long as the familiar flavors come through, it’s reliably good regardless of the recipe.
Last month, I made this completely vegetarian version from Serious Eats without any stock, just water, which we also loved.
The only downside of making onion soup is that my house always seems to smell skunky for the next day or so. Does that happen to you?
After the sugar overload of December, I promised healthier eating in the new year. For me, that usually starts with soup. I love soup, especially soups that fill you up for lunch. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a smooth one made with beans or vegetables and then pureed – no cream required. Other times, I crave a brothy bowl filled with vegetables or beans.
So far in 2019, brothy soups have been the star. I started the year with a wonderful onion soup made with sweet red onions offset by the tang of Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. It was easy and delicious. Cheesy toasts on top made this a perfect lunch.
Cook the Book Fridays’ first recipe from Everyday Dorie this year is another hearty brothy soup: Potato Chowder, Lots of Ways. Dorie Greenspan gives a basic formula along with suggestions on tweaking the ingredients depending on the season as well as other ideas for giving the soup your own flair. Though called potato chowder, the soup includes an almost equal (or maybe greater) amount of alliums. There are onions, leeks, shallots AND garlic. I even used leeks I grew in my garden last summer (they’re storing well in the fridge).
I didn’t have any bacon on hand, but I did have a jar of bacon fat, so that’s what I used to sauté the alliums. Once they’re soft, broth and the requisite potatoes are added to the pot. I had some containers of corn stock in the freezer, made this summer from corn cobs. I thought that would be nice with the bacon undertones. I also added a tablespoon of Old Bay seasoning to evoke memories of childhood summers in Maryland. Once the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes), they are mashed in the pot to give the soup some body. You could optionally add some cream, but it didn’t seem necessary. And I’m focusing on less decadent eating for January.
It’s cold outside, but this soup warms you from the inside. The stock was sweet, and the flavor of corn was distinct, more than I expected. It complemented the bacon and Old Bay perfectly. The soup is rather beige, but sliced scallions and chopped parsley added the needed color to the bowl.
This is a perfect recipe to have in your back pocket. The basic ingredients are always on hand, at least at my house, and the ways to vary the pot to use other things in your pantry are limitless. I’m looking forward to having fun with other combinations as the seasons evolve.
To see how others in Cook the Book Fridays dressed up their chowder, check out there links here. And to try it yourself, you can find the recipe in page 63 of Dorie Greenspan’s newest book, Everyday Dorie.