Comfort Food -- ah, the memories.
Oct. 26, 2010 3:32 pm
Updated: Oct. 28, 2010 8:26 am
Today was a windy, rainy, "tornado watch" day, so what better way to spend it than hunkered down inside, while the scents from French Onion Soup wafted through the house. Yes, French Onion Soup is one of my comfort foods, not necessarily be cause it's
more comforting than, say, macaroni and cheese (it's not), but because the recipe takes me back to my early educational beginnings.
Many, many years ago, while working on my Bachelor's Degree in Home Economics I had a class called International Foods (sounds like an expensive Betty Crocker degree, but it's not -- another story, another day). This particular class was a real grind, because
it met from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m on Wednesday morning. I am sooooo not a morning person, and attendance was important because each "group" of 4 was responsible for cooking one course of a meal, from a different country each week. The best part, was that
the instructor, Dr. Connie Brezeale, collected the recipes we used, from the summer cooking vacations she took in the various countries -- and France week had crepes, French Onion Soup, Croissants, and Coq a Vin, among other things.
The only other class requirement was that everyone must at least taste every menu item that was prepared. Let me tell ya, Borsch and Caviar at 10 o'clock in the morning is something you never forget!
As you can tell from my narrative -- the Onion Soup was my absolute favorite, and I prepared it for years, before I lost the recipe. By then, however, the ingredients were pretty much committed to memory. So here goes:
1. Thinly slice about 6 lbs. onions. Today I used yellow onions, however, I usually ask the produce grocer which onions are the sweetest -- they vary by season.
2. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a soup kettle and add the onion slices. Cook them over a medium low heat, stirring to prevent burning -- for about 3 hours, or until they are soft, and reduced. While this step can be hurried, this is how the onions really get
sweet and flavorful, so I recommend that you don't rush it.
3. Stir in 3 T flour, 2 to 3 T paprika, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 3 bay leaves, and add salt to taste.
4. Add between 3 and 4 quarts canned beef broth. Don't use boullion, it's usually too salty. Find a hearty beef broth.
5. Add 1 - 2 cups dry white wine,
6. Simmer until warmed through (approx. 30-45 minutes.)
7. Ladle into oven-proof bowls, float a piece of toasted french bread on the soup. Cover the toast with either swiss or gouda cheese (I prefer swiss -- it's not as salty), and either bake or broil until cheese is browned and bubble.
While this recipe takes a lot of time to prepare, it is definitely one of my favorites, and it makes a large pot that will serve a hungry family, all week! The memories from my class make the food even tastier, and I thank Dr. Brezeale for her annual travels
-- while it doesn't seem like a labor of love, it wasn't as easy or affordable as it would be to do today -- here's a big shout out to a forward-thinking 1970's professor who introduced global learning, long before it even had a name..