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The bread discussions have gotten me thinking about French onion soup recipes: not too salty, a touch of booze, and cheese - oooh...cheese!
I found what looks like a great recipe on Cookography.com and will be making a batch for the National Soup Swap Day later this month (more on this incredibly brilliant event can be found on their web site). I will also make a Soup Swap group here so swappers can share our stories and recipes.

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The Best French Onion Soup

From: Cook’s Illustrated

Serves 6


For the best flavor, make the soup a day or 2 in advance. Alternatively, the onions can be prepared through step 1, cooled in the pot, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe.


* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 3 pieces
* 6 large yellow onions (about 4 pounds), halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices (Make sure you get Yellow)
* Table salt
* 2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
* 1/2 cup dry sherry
* 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (They recommend Swanson Certified Organic Free Range Chicken Broth )
* 2 cups beef broth (They recommend Pacific Beef Broth)
* 6 sprigs fresh thyme , tied with kitchen twine
* 1 bay leaf
* Ground black pepper

Cheese Croutons

* 1 small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices
* 8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)


For the soup:

1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Generously spray the inside of a heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with a nonstick cooking spray. Place the butter in the pot and add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, for 1 hour (the onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume). Remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Return the pot to the oven with the lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until the onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring the onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.
3. Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until the liquid evaporates and the onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if the onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with a dark crust, roughly 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.)
4. Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping the pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in the sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until the sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes.
5. Stir in the broths, 2 cups of water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot.
6. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

For the croutons:

1. While the soup simmers, arrange the baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven until the bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

To serve:

1. Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Gruyère. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
here are some good soups that i have made.

Now is the time to make my favorite, soupe au pistou. Here's my favorite version:
Vegetable Soup with Pistou
Serves 15

One August in Provence, I went to a midnight village Fête. The town was perched high on a hillside and most of the streets were narrow, steep, and curving. The only flat place was a tiny square in front of a church, and it was here that the long tables for the Fête were set. From a tiny restaurant off the square, huge bowls of summer vegetable soup were brought steaming hot to the tables, along with smaller bowls of fragrant pistou— a sauce of garlic, basil, and olive oil. The grated cheese was already on the tables, along with baguettes from the local boulangerie and bottles of the local rosé and red wine. Under the cover of spreading Mulberry trees strung with colored lights, we sat out talking and eating, while the cicadas sang in the background. Soupe au Pistou is ideal to serve to a large crowd, as the soup is easy to make in good-sized quantities and can be prepared a day ahead. Because the dish uses fresh shell beans, available only during the summer, it brings to the table the cachet of a special moment captured in time. Do not be tempted to make the pistou ahead of time, however. Freshly made, it has an intense, sharp flavor that enhances all the other ingredients in the soup. Left to stand, it can become dull and even bitter and, if stirred directly into a soup that will be reheated later, will give the soup an entirely different flavor.

For the soup:
4 pounds very ripe tomatoes (about 12 medium-sized)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic chopped
8 medium-sized boiling or new potatoes;
such as Yukon Cold or White or Red Rose
(about 3 pounds), peeled, if desired,
and cut into 1-inch dice
1/2 pound Blue Lake or other
slender green snap beans; trimmed
and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 cups fresh shell beans;
such as fava, cranberry, flageolet,
or lima (about 1 pound)
3 quarts Basic Vegetable Broth (see the book),
or other vegetable broth
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh marjoram
1 piece Parmesan or other hard cheese rind,
2 to 4 inches square, chopped (optional)
1 cup finely broken spaghetti or other thin pasta

For the pistou:
10 garlic cloves
4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if needed

To make the soup, chop the tomatoes, reserving the seeds and juices. Set aside. In a soup pot large enough to hold all the ingredients eventually, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and the garlic and sauté until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the potatoes, snap beans, and shell beans, and cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly with a wooden spoon, until well-coated and slightly softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and their juices and seeds. Add the broth, salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram, and the cheese rind if using. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and beans are soft, about 40 minutes. Add the pasta and cook until it is tender 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the pistou. Place the garlic cloves in a large bowl and mash them with the back of a wooden spoon or with a pestle. Add the basil leaves, 1 cup at a time, mashing them into the garlic paste. When all the basil has been incorporated, add the olive oil, a drizzle at a time, incorporating it into the paste along with the salt. If you have not added the cheese rind to the soup, mix the grated Parmesan into the pistou.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and stir about 1 tablespoon pistou into each bowl. Serve the remaining pistou in a bowl alongside.

Buy the Book!

The Vegetarian Table: France
By Georgeanne Brennan
Chronicle Books, 1995
Hardback, $19.95
Color photographs throughout
ISBN: 0-8118-0474-7
Recipe reprinted by permission.
I cook everything the old school way= pinch of this, spoonful of that, but I will try my best here haha

Carrie's Homemade Chicken Noodle

2 chicken breasts cubed
4 c. chicken stock
2 cans cream soup (chicken or celery are both good)
2 carrots chopped
2 celery stalk chopped
1/2 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
2 c elbow macaroni
pinch black pepper
pinch parsely
pinch rosemary
pinch thyme

Bring the stock and cream soup to boil. Add carrots, celery and onions and simmer covered for about 15 mins or so. Uncover and add macaroni chicken cubes and spices. Boil for about another 15 mins or until macaroni is to desired consistancy. Makes about 6 servings.
I just made a really good kabocha-kale soup, totally inspired by the farmer's market:

Halve a kabocha squash and bake at 350F til soft. Meanwhile, chop an onion, and saute til brown. Add a couple cloves of chopped garlic, and some chicken stock. When the squash is done, add it to the stock, and puree (this is super easy with a stick blender). Then add some kale ribbons, pre-cooked or canned white beans, parsley, chives, tarragon (this is a key flavor here), and salt and pepper.

Serve with sour cream and herbed challah croutons.

Challah croutons:
cube some slightly stale challah. Toast.
Meanwhile, melt a couple tablespoons of butter on the stove, and add salt, pepper, oregano, and sage (or any herbs you like that you happen to have on hand, but the oregano and salt were really good).
When the bread is crunchy, put them in a bowl and drizzle the butter over the top. Put back in the oven to crisp up a bit more, and add to soup.
Sausage, Lentil, and Kale Stew (my own recipe)


2 tbsp olive oil
1.5 cups carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp herbes de province (or thyme)
1/2 tsp cumin
1.25 qt organic chicken broth
24 oz no salt added ground tomatoes (I used a box of Pomi)
1 cup dried lentils (any color)
4 cups roughly chopped kale leaves and stems
2 sweet Italian sausages, cut out of casings and torn into chunks
2 spicy Italian sausages, cut out of casings and torn into chunks
grated parmesan cheese
fresh-squeezed lemon juice

In a large stew pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, scallions, black pepper, herbes de province, and cumin. Stir until coated, then heat 5 minutes or so, covered, stirring occasionally.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes, lentils and kale. Stir thoroughly. Cover and raise heat until mixture boils, then simmer, covered, 40 minutes.

Add sausages and continue to simmer an additional 20 minutes.

Serve with grated parmesan cheese and lemon juice.

Makes approximately 2.5 quarts of stew.

*nota bene: I tend not to cook with a lot of onions and garlic, but they can easily be added by cooks so inclined. However, this stew has a rich, complex flavor without using either of these.
Last week I made the best soup I ever made - posted it here Garden Soup!
Vegetarian French Onion Soup Recipe (substitute soy sauce, sherry and veggie stock for the beef stock!)

Rainy Day French Onion Soup (Vegetarian Friendly)

4 tablespoons butter
5 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Splash dry Sherry
3 large onions, slice thin
2 shallots, quartered
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash of dried thyme
French bread
Gruyere or Swiss cheese


1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the dry mustard and thyme.

2. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer the onions over low heat for 1 hour, stirring every twenty minutes. After one hour, or when the onions begin to sizzle and brown, stir more frequently to prevent burning. Once the onions are a rich, golden brown, add the vegetable stock, soy sauce and sherry. Heat for another ten minutes.

3. While the onions are cooking, cut or tear the French bread into large chunks, and brown in a 300 degree oven. Fill oven-safe bowls with the browned and crunchy bread.

4. When the soup is complete, fill the bowls and cover with cheese (I used two slices of Swiss, and some leftover Roquefort). Place the bowls under the broiler for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese melts completely.

Read more about my offbeat adventures is domesticity at playingh.wordpress.com.




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