I used to spend hours in the kitchen laboring over traditional bread recipes, making homemade corn dogs, pretzels, etc., I have always like doing things by hand, the long way. For the longest time, I thought that having a microwave would almost encourage me to stop making handmade meals and that I would get lazy. I liked the contact with ingredients-kneading pizza dough by hand, beating the sugar and eggs until it gets that light, sunshine yellow, it made me feel like I was getting back to the basics. Perhaps it was my connection with ‘simpler times’.
Then I had a kid.
So, you race home from work, go get your child from daycare, get home and whip something up for dinner…fast, because you’ve got to get the bath and the bedtime story-all by 8:30 at night. Although, I have actually been incredibly lucky because my husband will gladly play and entertain our son if I do decide to get my hands dirty and spend some time in the kitchen-especially if I’m making his beloved onion rings. But, cooking does more than take your time-sometimes it can drain you of your energy.
So, this summer-I finally decided to take a step back. I was still a fan of cooking-but I tried to make delicious simple. Fresh salads garnished in marinated mozzarella, homemade vinaigrettes, hummous…It’s really easy to do easy in the summer because vegetables are everywhere and they just look so darn good!
But what about the fall? The days are starting to get shorter. You want fast. But you also want warm.
That is where french onion soup swoops in to save the day.
And not only is it extremely easy-it also won’t break the bank. I mean, you can make it swanky by adding a really fancy Swiss cheese if you’re serving this at a dinner party…but tonight, I remade this dish and added potstickers (about .70 cents worth will satisfy two adults and a toddler-versus the 5.50 package of so-so flavored grated cheese that I won’t serve liberally even if I do garnish the soup a little…) to add a little local flavor..so the whole thing will make two full meals and will cost me about .30 cents a serving!!
Anyway, not that this blog is about frugal cooking or anything-but it is always brag worthy when you can say delicious, easy, cheap AND gourmet!
So, back to what matters: the flavor.
To make this, I used rice cooking wine. The cheapest wine I could find with which to cook here. I thought this soup was quite tasty, but if you are looking for a traditional French recipe you can use a dry, white wine. If you get a wine that is drinkable, you’ll have a little added treat when you sit down to eat…
My French host mother also made this dish one night with beer…it really is a versatile soup!
Serve this soup with a cold beer, bread and cheese (or cheesy garlic bread?) to balance out the richness of the soup. And voilà-you have what an older generation of French people would want to come home to after a night of painting the town red!
FRENCH ONION SOUP RECIPE
5 ½-7 cups of purple onion (3-3 ½ large onions)
¼ cup oil or butter
2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
2-3 cloves garlic
1 ¼ c cooking wine
8 cups chicken broth
2 TBS apple cider vinegar (optional-depends on quality of wine and how much you like vinegar;)
1 TBS cornstarch
2 Tbs. water (for cornstarch)
Julienne your onions and then cut the strips in half lengthwise. This makes getting onion in every spoonful very practical. Smash your garlic, keeping the skin on. If you let these caramelize with the onions, you can dig them out of the soup and spread them on your bread.
Then, heat your oil or butter in a wok or frying pan on medium high heat. Add onions, salt and oregano., do not stir frequently (I only moved once in 5 minutes).
After 5 minutes lower heat and give a quick stir. Then let it brown another 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. If the garlic skins come off of the clove when stirring, remove them…
(Those onions are almost caramelized to perfection even if their beautiful purple color doesn’t allow for a better showcase.)
Then add ¾ cup of the cooking wine and ½ cup of the chicken broth. Let simmer until half of the liquid evaporates. Mix the cornstarch and the water in a small glass. Then, pour it over the onions, stirring constantly. Let it simmer for another minute then turn off the stovetop.
Add the mixture to the chicken broth and let it simmer on low until you are ready to eat! Serve with a cold beer or a glass of dry white wine and garnish with some chives or cilantro and dig in!