French Onion Soup

retrochick.JPGMichele says:

I’m not a fan of summer; it’s hot, sticky, and—for someone as pale as I—sunburny.  I spend most of the summer indoors, hoping for a cloudy day.  For reasons probably related to my aversion to summer, I long ago decided that August is, in fact, autumn.  And what does autumn mean?  Soup, of course!  Every year, I spend my late summer early autumn days making and consuming vats of soup.  In the first week of my imagined autumn, I have already jumped into preparing my favorite soup: French onion.

I know that most folks consider French onion soup to be a red and white can classic, but it really is so much more.  It is a simple but classic, decadent but inexpensive, fancy yet homey French entrée dating back to the 1700s.  (More recently, it was featured in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.)  A restaurant must have for many, this timeless soup can be made at home with little more than beef broth, onions, cheese, and bread.  Why not give it a shot next time you’re craving soup (or croûte/little toasts)?  It’s “fall”, after all.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

  • 4 large Spanish onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup dry red or white wine (or good balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 32 ounces (4 cups) beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 16 ounces (2 cups) chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon thyme, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup of shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese per serving
  • 2 slices baguette per serving
  • Olive oil, for drizzling on baguette slices

 

  1.  Melt the butter over medium heat in a large (preferably enameled cast iron) stock pot.  Add the olive oil and the sliced onions.  Cook the onions, stirring frequently, until softened and browned, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Add the pinches of sugar and salt after the onions first begin to brown.
  2. Once the onions have caramelized, sprinkle them with ¼ cup of flour.  Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the flour smells nutty.
  3. Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup red wine.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the wine no longer smells of alcohol.
  4. Add 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 32 ounces of beef stock and 16 ounces of chicken stock to the pot with the onions.  Stir until the soup begins to thicken.
  5. Add the bay leaf and ¼ teaspoon thyme to the soup.  (Taste after 15 minutes and add an additional ¼ teaspoon if you desire.)  Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.  Simmer for one hour, skimming any white foam off the top every 20 minutes.
  6. To make toasts (croûtes), drizzle or brush each slice of baguette slices with olive oil.  Place the bread slices on a large baking sheet.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through, until very crunchy and toasted.
  7. Just before serving, light your broiler.  Spoon the soup into oven-proof bowls or ramekins and top with an even sprinkling of Swiss cheese.  Place the ramekins of soup on a large baking sheet and melt the cheese under the broiler until browned.
  8. Once the cheese has melted and the ramekin has cooled slightly, place the soup on a plate with two croûtes and serve.  (The croûtes are best after being soaked in the soup for a while. ;-) )

Makes 4 main course (or 6-8 appetizer) servings.

Michele Newell is a housewife turned blogger turned Home Ec 101 contributor.  You can read her near daily ramblings at Dreams Unreal.

WinnerwinnerThe winner of the Everyday Raw Gourmet Cook is commenter #5 better known as: J. Grab. I’ll be contacting J. via email to have him send his shipping details. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Albondigas Soup, Simplified for Weeknight Ease

Heather says:

I absolutely love albondigas soup, it’s a family favorite, but sometimes I just don’t have the energy to mess with rolling the meatballs. Sometimes I just can’t bring myself to care that much.

So on a whim one evening, when I had planned on making the original albondigas, I looked at it and said Fuhgeddaboudit, we’re doing a deconstructed or simplified version of the recipe. Deconstructed is a fancy term for breaking a complicated dish down into its elements or ingredients and changing the presentation.

This has all of the same ingredients, but without the work of the meatballs. Score.

If you were intimidated by the original soup recipe, give this version  a try. I wouldn’t dissuade you from trying it with a margarita, either.

Enjoy!
Ground Beef Soup

: Simplified Albondigas

: This is a weeknight version of the classic Albondigas or Mexican Meatball Soup

  • 2lbs lean ground beef
  • 2 small cans diced green chilies
  • 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes or use an equivalent amount of fresh, diced tomatoes about 2.5 cups
  • 1 bunch green onions – chopped, include the bulb, but set aside and chop that separately
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced or pressed -divided use half in the beef half in the broth
  • 1 bunch cilantro – chopped
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 2 qts beef broth or stock (low sodium if possible, if not, I recommend using Better Than Bouillon
  • salt, pepper, and Tabasco or Chalula to taste

Directions:

  • In a large, heavy pot brown the ground beef with the bulb portion of the green onions and about half of the garlic.
  • Drain any fat.
  • Add the 2 qts of stock or broth and increase the heat of the burner.
  • Add the green chilies, diced tomatoes, the rest of the garlic, 1/2 cup of rice, and about half of cilantro and green onions.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook until the rice is done. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning as desired.
  • Add the last of the cilantro and green onions just before serving -this adds a bright, fresh taste.
  • Serve with warm, flour tortillas

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Slow Cooker Smoked Sausage Potato Cheese Soup Recipe

*plus an unrelated note from Heather at the end*
Bobbie says:

“So, is it cold enough for ya?” I don’t think I’ve made it through a winter in my entire life without hearing this lamest of questions at least once. I just smile and nod at the crazy person as I move along.  “Cold enough” implies that one looks forward to frigid temperatures. Anyone who’s spent more than five minutes with me during the winter knows I detest cold and snow, and probably thinks I’m less than sane for living north of the Mason-Dixon line my entire life, despite the weather. I couldn’t really argue with that.

We’ve actually had a rather mild winter in the Gettysburg area so far, but it’s still been cold enough to warrant some hearty, comforting soup to warm the bones as well as the soul. This simple Smoked Sausage Potato Cheese Soup is perfect  for busy, chilly days. Peel a few potatoes, chop a carrot and toss everything in the slow cooker in the morning and let it cook all day, then finish the last step just before supper time. Pair with a tossed salad and maybe some crusty rolls for an easy-peasy winter meal. Simple, yet satisfying.

Cheesy Smoked Sausage Potato Soup - Easy Comfort Food

My potato preference for this is Yukon Gold, but any kind will do. Any fully cooked sausage can be used, and you can also use a different cheese. I think bratwurst with swiss cheese sounds really good, but I haven’t tried it yet.  Reheats nicely, if you’ve got any left over – keep in the fridge and use within a couple days. Freezing not recommended – texture will be affected.

 

Smoked Sausage Potato Cheese Soup Recipe

makes about 4 quarts

1 pound fully cooked smoked sausage
8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch chunks
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups frozen sweet corn
1 1/2 cups peeled carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of dried thyme
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
4 cups chicken or pork stock, preferably homemade

1 cup evaporated milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Halve the sausage lengthwise, then slice about 1/4 inch thick.

Combine everything except the evaporated milk and cheese in a 6-quart slow cooker.

Cover and cook on HIGH for 5 to 6 hours, or on LOW for 8 to 9 hours.

Remove the bay leaves. Cheesy Smoked Sausage Potato Soup - gently stir in cheese

Stir in evaporated milk.

Sprinkle cheese over top of the soup. Stir gently until the cheese melts into the soup and mixes well throughout.

Serve hot. Refrigerate leftovers promptly.

 

 

 

 

 

Bobbie Laughman is a part-time elder caregiver, part-time administrative assistant and part-time dreamer of warm toes. She cooks and writes and bundles up well in the Gettysburg, PA area. Follow Bobbie on Pinterest,  subscribe to her blog or send a message to Bobbie@Home-Ec101.com.  

Heather says:
I’m very grateful that Bobbie sent this over last night. I didn’t want to not post this week, but the kids and I were rear-ended yesterday afternoon. We were all checked out at the ER and other than being extremely sore and cranky, we’re all okay. I want to thank the extremely nice staff at N&D Wireless, a local business, for letting the kids and me wait in their store while everything was sorted out. The ambulances (not for me or the kids and as far as I know, the other people are okay, too) and police took up most of their parking lot for a good hour. They helped entertain my shaken up kids and were just generally kind. They didn’t have to let my wound up kids go nuts in there for as long as they did, but that kindness meant a lot, I was pretty rattled. I’m going to be a complete slacker this weekend and hopefully attack Monday with all of my usual spite and enthusiasm. Have a good weekend and hug -yes, hug- those you love.

Chicken and Dumplings

Heather says:

This recipe for chicken and rolled dumplings is my riff on the Lee Bros version which can be found in The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. I love their recipes and while I think their idea for sweet potato dumplings sounds intriguing, I chose to go with classic rolled dumplings.

Many people include shortening or butter in their rolled dumplings, this would give them more of a damp biscuit feel than a noodle. I stick to milk, flour, salt, pepper, an egg, and if I’m feeling froggy (which I was the other day) a little bit of baking powder. Go easy on the baking powder, you don’t want a bitter dumpling, you just want to lighten the texture. Do not knead or over work the dough, this will cause tough dumplings, only mix the dough just until it comes together.

Chicken and dumplings is a perfect cool weather comfort food. Grab a whole chicken, cut it up, and let’s get started.

: Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and Dumpling Ingredients

For the chicken itself:

  • 2 tsp kosher salt,
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 4 – 5lb whole chicken cut-up
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil

For the chicken and dumpling soup:

  • 1/2 cup white wine, crisper is better
  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves (more if you’re Bobbie)
  • 2 sliced onions
  • 3 large carrots, sliced into coins
  • 3 stalks celery
  • flat leaf parsley, chopped, ~optional
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Rolled dumplings

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour + more for dusting
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg (beaten lightly)

  • Season the chicken with the salt and pepper and set aside. Grab a large, 6 quart minimum stock pot or dutch oven and heat over medium high heat.
  • Add the oil to the pot and just as soon as it begins to shimmer add the chicken pieces, but do not crowd the pan (in case you decided to double the recipe) Cook about 3 – 4 minutes per side, just until the skin starts to brown. You want brown bits left behind, these are going to drastically enrich the flavor of your chicken and dumplings.
  • Remove the chicken and set aside for a moment.

  • Add all of the vegetables, except the garlic to the pot. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up all those browned bits.

  • When onions begin to soften, return the chicken to the pot. Add the stock, additional fresh ground pepper, bay leaves, and garlic to the pot. Cover loosely and bring the soup almost to a boil and reduce the heat immediately to keep everything at a gentle simmer for about 40 minutes. The chicken should be just about falling off the bones.
  • Remove the chicken pieces from the pot, set aside and allow to cool just enough to handle. Separate the chicken from the bones and skin.

Chicken in a bowl

  • Return the cooked chicken to soup and begin increasing the heat until it reaches a simmer. Taste the broth and add additional salt and fresh ground pepper as needed.
  • While the soup is reheating, make the dumplings.

  • Stir together 1 1/2 cups of flour, salt, pepper, and baking powder. In another dish mix the egg and milk. Add the liquid to the flour and stir until a workable dough forms. (You can experiment with more or less flour or milk until you find the exact consistency you want)
  • Dust your workspace with flour and roll out the dough to about 1/8th of an inch.. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough into strips an inch wide and the length you’d like. The strips do NOT have to be perfect. Imperfect strips taste just as fab as their perfectly formed counterparts.

Cut dumplings

  • Add the rolled dumplings to the now simmering soup and cook just until the dumplings are done. About 6 minutes or so.
  • Serve.
  • Enjoy

You can also use this base and then add drop dumplings instead of rolled.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 55 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

Culinary tradition: USA (Southern)

Shrimp Gumbo Recipe, Cajun Comfort Food

Heather says:

If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you probably have noticed that I have a strong affinity for Cajun and Creole food. What can I say? I live in the South and I love garlic and shrimp and when they simmer with trinity, then life, at least at supper time, is good.

I didn’t take any pictures of the shrimp gumbo making process, but I do have a decent final shot and since many of the ingredients and steps are similar to that of my shrimp etouffee, which is my eight year-olds favorite dinner, in the “whole wide world, next to Taco Johns,” which he has had exactly once on a trip to Minnesota, but apparently made an impression. You can make your own judgments on his tastes, just know that I try to take that mixed compliment as gracefully as I can. (He also told his grandmother that she makes the best chili ever, while she was opening a can of Hormel’s) I had to leave the room after that little gem.

Now these ingredients are flexible (except for the file which you shouldn’t omit) Sure, you can omit it, but it just won’t be the same.

Everything else, except the roux, substitute to your heart’s content. Got it? (Just keep the liquid to roux ratio the same. Alton Brown, one of my culinary heroes, has a great show on gumbo, in which he demonstrates how to make a roux in the oven)

Good gumbo is a great cool or rainy weather meal, it has plenty of vegetables, so just serve over rice and call it done.  Personally, I find leftover shrimp gumbo even better than the first time around, maybe the flavors meld better, maybe it’s that it’s almost as good as when someone else makes it for you. (The best food is always magically appearing, but leftover gumbo is a close second). As written this recipe will make about 3 quarts of soup, so unless you’re feeding a big crowd, you should get at least 2 or 3 meals out of it.

I highly recommend using enameled cast iron, and you don’t even have to spring for Le Crueset. A stock pot will certainly work to make roux, but you’re going to have to be diligent with stirring to avoid scorching, and a thin pan may invite frustration. If you don’t have a large (6 quart enameled cast iron) and only have a small one, by all means, make the roux in the small pot and transfer to the stock pot to finish. You’ll thank me when your roux doesn’t scorch.

And on to the recipe, yes, you can totally substitute chicken or vegetable stock for the shrimp stock, if you MUST.

 

: Shrimp Gumbo

: Cajun comfort food

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into coins
  • 2 quarts stock
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 ribs of celery, diced / chopped
  • 3 bell peppers, diced – you can go all green if you want, but red ones are sweeter, even if they are so dang spendy
  • 4 cloves of  minced garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 lb okra pieces, I use frozen. . . judge me if you must.
  • 1 tablespoon file powder
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

  • Make roux by heating the oil and flour over medium low heat, when the roux is peanut butter colored, you may stop as you’ll have a good flavor (for a full roux tutorial look at the Shrimp Etouffee recipe). If you really want a more authentic Cajun gumbo, turn down the heat to low and keep on keepin’ on until your roux is brick or chocolate colored. DO NOT USE BURNT ROUX, there is a distinct difference, even though the line from awesome to ruined is thin, proceed with caution.
  • While the roux is working, brown the andouille sausage in another pan (if you’re going to use a stock pot for the gumbo go ahead and use that).
  • Personally, I like to get my roux where I like it and set it aside for a few minutes while I cook the onions, bell pepper, and celery with the andouille sausage over medium-high heat. Alternately, you can cook the roux just under where you want it and finish it mixed with vegetables. It’s up to you, but cook the trinity until the onions are translucent, somewhere in the 7 minute range, a little over or under depending on your pan. Add the garlic and stir to combine.
  • Grab your whisk or favorite wooden spoon.
  • Slowly add the 2 quarts of stock, stir constantly to ensure the stock is fully incorporated into the roux. Turn the heat to low.
  • Add the bay leaves, salt and pepper (I go with about 2 tsp salt, and a few good grinds of pepper)
  • Add the okra, stir.
  • When the stew has reheated from the addition of the okra, add the shrimp cook until the shrimp is nearly done (becomes opaque).
  • Add the file powder, stir thoroughly, cover, and allow to sit for 10 minutes to thicken.
  • Serve over rice.

Preparation time:

 

Cooking time: 1 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

Culinary tradition: USA (Southern)

Enjoy!