Monday, April 18, 2011

easy french onion soup

Okay, so here comes the second soup post in a row.  But that's because I could probably eat soup every other day.  And it's an easy meal to make hearty and yet vegetarian.  The soup I made used chicken broth, but could easily be made with a nice homemade veggie broth.  I keep scraps of veggies and chicken or other meat bones in large bags in the freezer, then when I need broth, I just pop the contents of the bag into the crock pot, covered with water, and cook it on low for 18-24 hours.  How long you let it go depends on how strong you want your broth and how stinky you are willing to let your house get.  Ha.

french onion soup on Matt's grandma's handmade hotpad

I liked that this recipe was simple, but I thought it was just a tad bit too simple, so I added a couple of garlic cloves and some dried thyme to the onions.  Then it seemed just right.

 you know it's good--look at that doggy snout trying to get at it!

Quick, Light French Onion Soup
slightly adapted from Serious Eats
serves 4

1 pound sweet white or yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp dried thyme
2 cups dry white wine, such as Muscadet
2 tablespoons butter
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1 bay leaf
4 slices crusty bread or baguette
2 cups (5 ounces) freshly grated Gruyere cheese
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Combine the onions, garlic, thymewine, butter, and a large pinch of salt in a baking dish and cook, uncovered, until the wine is absorbed almost completely into the onions, and they are tender and golden, 45 minutes or perhaps a little longer.
In the meantime, bring the chicken or vegetable stock and bay leaf to a simmer in a large saucepan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When the onions are finished, divide them among 4 deep broiler-safe bowls. Cover the onions with chicken stock to fill the bowls, and place a slice of bread on each. Distribute the grated cheese over the bread and broil until the cheese is golden and bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes. 


Sunday, April 10, 2011

early spring warmth

We're still at a point in the spring season where we'll see chilly and rainy and generally miserable days, so I still need soup.  But I'm definitely getting to the point where I want lighter, more vegetable-based foods.  This soup provided a nice balance.

I love Cook's Country's take on posole, but I can only take that fatty, pork-filled stew so often.  This potato soup begins with a similar pureed onion and chili base.  I opted for a can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes instead of crushed fresh, but if you have nice fresh tomatoes around, go for it.

I also wanted to add another texture or flavor, and debated between frozen sweet corn or hominy.  I decided on hominy this time to keep the flavors smoky and earthy like the pork posole.  If I make this later into the spring or summer it would be nice to use frozen or fresh sweet corn to brighten up the whole soup.

Mexican Potato Soup
adapted from Serious Eats
1 lb boiling potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
Kosher salt 
28-oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes or 3 large red ripe tomatoes, about 1 1/4 pounds, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce, coarsely chopped
2 c homemade chicken or vegetable stock (of course, go for veggie broth if you want it vegetarian)
28-oz can hominy (optional)
1/3 c cilantro, finely chopped
Place in large saucepan and cover with water by about three inches. Season water with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender but firm to the bite (potatoes will cook further in step 2). Drain potatoes and set aside. Meanwhile, blend tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chipotle pepper in blender at high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.
Pour tomato mixture into large saucepan. Add vegetable stock and potatoes. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are completely tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. For thicker broth, mash a few potatoes against side of pot with wooden spoon. Add cilantro and hominy (if using) simmer for 2 minutes longer, or until hominy is warm. Serve immediately with extra cilantro and sour cream (I use Greek yogurt) as desired.