French Onion Soup
A good friend of mine is a master gardener who loves to grow veggies. He grows more than he can eat, so he calls me at harvest time to share the bounty. I am always happy when he does. Some of the things I came home with last week were three large, and I mean really large, sweet Walla Walla onions. I was inspired to make one of them into soup. Here’s my recipe:
v 1 very large or 4 regular size Walla Walla onions cut into small bite-sized strips.
v Several Cloves of garlic, minced finely
v 1 Tablespoon Margarine
v 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
v 2 Quarts Veggie Broth
v 1 Heaping Teaspoon Miso (This is my secret ingredient.)
v Salt & Black Pepper to taste
v 1 Teaspoon Thyme
The first step is to caramelize the onions. This is the base for your soup. This process completely changes the taste and texture of the onion and gives it a sweet flavor. By the way, caramelized onions have many culinary uses. For example, they are an excellent addition to a sandwich or a salad.
Melt the margarine on low in a large frying pan, and then add the olive oil. Turn heat up to about medium. When the oil is hot add onions and stir to coat them in the oil. Add a pinch of sea salt and pepper and stir again. The salt helps them to caramelize more quickly. Cook them until they start to get soft, then turn burner down a few degrees. Let onions continue to cook as you stir them. They will change to a darker color and will start sticking to the pan. That’s fine; it’s part of the process. Add a bit of broth, water, or wine and swish around in the pan. This is called deglazing. Cook a few moments more.
Now add the veggie broth and the thyme. Let your soup simmer for a while and develop flavor while you go off and do something else. Stir occasionally as you walk by. Add the miso towards the end. It has a delicate flavor and boiling is very bad for it.
French onion soup is traditionally served with croutons and Swiss cheese. If you want to get all fancy, you can make your own croutons while your soup is simmering. All you need are a few ingredients:
v A few pieces of bread (bread at least a few days old works best),
v About a tablespoon of margarine and the same of olive oil
v A few cloves of diced garlic.
Heat a frying pan and add the margarine and olive oil. Once the margarine has melted add the diced garlic and let sauté a few minutes, until lightly browned. Cut the bread into small bite size squares. Add these squares to the pan in one layer. Let these simmer away until they are lightly browned, then carefully flip them over to the other side. When this side is browned and smelling delicious, they are done! See, wasn’t that easy?
Now ladle your soup into a pretty bowl and top with your freshly made croutons and cheese, if desired.