Tag : soup
Tag : soup
Onion is among my favorite flavors, right after almond, cardamom, and garlic. Fortunately, it’s also one of the basic components of savory recipes, especially soups, and when making a sauté, braise, or poach, one must always keep onions in mind, even if they make you cry (tears of joy because they are so delicious.)
The best thing about onion soup, aside from the sumptuous beef stock, is the simplicity. I am all about simplicity. Give me a recipe with ten ingredients and I’ll try to make it just as well with five. Emphasis on the word “try,” of course. You could easily make this recipe more complicated, and you can even make it simpler than I do (though you may regret it if you do.) Unlike with those ingredient-heavy poached salmons and technique-intensive braised chickens, though, french onion soup is really a two-step deal: cook the onions on low, simmer the stock on low. The low-and-slow technique really draws out the flavors from the onions, shallots, garlic, and herbs, and simmering helps intensify the wine and stock flavors.
Skipping past all of that mumbo-whatsit, onion soup, while it can take a while (1-2 hours at least for a really good dish), is really just a long period of doing nothing. Normally when I plan a meal, I can only manage 1-2 things from scratch, because by the time those two things are prepped, I’m too tired to prep anything else but salad from a box. Moreover, some dishes require delicate timing so they’re still warm when it’s time to dig in, or precise timing so they don’t burn or explode before they’re ready. The balancing act of getting dishes started and finished is exhausting, and some evenings I give up and only serve one thing, with a side of kale. Onion soup, though, is mostly waiting, with the occasional checking and tasting.
Let’s say you wanted to serve homemade bread with your soup. Prepare the dough either in the morning or the day before and leave it in the fridge. Start by heating the oil and slicing the onions. While the onions are caramelizing, shape your dough (stacked rolls for brioche, loaf pan for focaccia, misshapen slabs for ciabatta, etc.) The dough can proof a second time while the onions are cooking, and now you can prep the rest of your soup ingredients. Maybe you want some protein, too. Pull your (thawed/not frozen) steak, fish, chicken, whatever out of the fridge at any point while the onions are still cooking (or even before), and get that ready (rinse, dry, whatever needs to be done.) Now you have soup base going on the stove, meat drying and coming to room temperature, and bread proofing, and you don’t even need to have the oven preheating yet!
Most recently, I made brioche dough the day before the soup, and while the onions and shallot cooked, I prepped the dough in fluted brioche cups, then put them in the oven (at 80 degrees F/ C) to rise. While the dough was rising and the onions were caramelizing, I was getting all the rest of the soup ingredients ready and washing the dishes. I also had fillets of fish drying off and warming up at the same time. After adding the garlic, flour, wine, and beef stock for the soup, I took the dough out of the oven and set the oven to preheat, assembled a salad, and even assembled dessert, which I put into the freezer until it was ready to bake. I seasoned the fish, and after the oven was fully preheated and the soup had been simmering for ~20 minutes, I heated up the oil in my cast iron skillet for searing the fillets, set out plates, bowls, and utensils, and cleaned up my mess. Everything was able to come out at the same time without all the running around and hair-tearing and inside-crying that usually happens when I cook.
You can prepare not just one entire meal, but more than one, while you make french onion soup and that, in addition to the taste, is why I love it so much.
I have on and off problems with lactose intolerance. Some days, dairy is deadly, while others, I frolic around the dairy fields, carefree and crap-free. Pills help, depending on how far I am towards the “dairy bad” side of the spectrum (some days, the pills do jack squat to keep me from the Irish sport of stomach hurling.) I try to be pretty strict about dairy (and I usually fail), and because the last time I made this soup, I had already prepared lemon oregano brioche buns, I decided just to do the soup without the cheese and toast. It’s still just as delectable.
Not only can you make the soup sans cheese, but you can also make it vegetarian or vegan by swapping out other soup stocks (mushroom, for example) and replacing the butter with other oils. Beware, though, that a lot of grocery-store mushroom stock has beef in it. I would recommend making your own mushroom or onion stock (or a combination!) Vegetable stock works, as well, but the flavor is very bright and tart compared to the beef stock and caramelized onions.
french onion soup
1 T light olive oil, or any other refined oil
1 T unsalted butter
2 yellow onions
3 – 5 cloves garlic, plus one extra for toast if using
1 T all-purpose flour
1 c dry white wine (eg., Pinot Grigio)
4 c (1 quart) unsalted beef stock
1 – 2 rosemary sprigs (with or without leaves)
coarse sea salt
Heat oil and butter in a stock pot on low-medium heat.
Thinly slice onions and shallot and add to the pot. Stir occasionally (every ~10 minutes.) Let the onions and shallot cook until sufficiently brown and soft, 30 – 45 minutes.
Mince garlic and sauté with the onions and shallot for a few minutes. When you can start to smell the garlic, add flour and whisk well. Let everything cook for a minute or two. The flour and butter form a roux and help thicken the soup.
Pour in the wine, bring to a simmer, and reduce slightly, then add the stock and bring to a boil. When boiling, throw in the rosemary sprigs. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes, tasting occasionally and adding salt for flavor.
If doing gratinée
4 – 8 slices of baguette
2 – 4 cups of shredded cheese (parmesan, mozzarella, gruyere, etc.)
1 T unsalted butter, melted, or 1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, or 1 T garlic salt
Once the soup is simmering, preheat the oven to 375 F/ C.
Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush with melted butter or oil.
Crush the garlic clove, if using, and rub onto the baguette slices, or sprinkle the slices with garlic salt. Toast for 5 – 10 minutes until just starting to turn golden.
Remove the bread and turn the oven up to 450 – 500 F/ C, or preheat the broiler.
Divide the soup into oven-safe bowls (ceramic or stoneware), top with 1 – 2 slices of baguette each, and sprinkle cheese liberally on top to cover the whole surface of the soup.
Toast/broil the soup in the oven or broiler until cheese is melted, bubbling, and a little golden brown. Serve garnished with rosemary leaves, black pepper, parsley, or any other desired herb.
Bon appetit, mes chers!
I discovered something late last year: I don’t generally like stews. It just so happens that most things called “stew” are things I don’t like. Not a fan of chili (except Cincinnati Chili, oh mama), try to avoid Brunswick Stew, and really don’t like boiled meat (beef is not meant to be boiled, y’all.)
But I won’t judge you if you do like stew. I just won’t cook it for you and if you have a habit of making it, or of boiling your meat, I will not be coming to your house for dinner (unless you buy wine in bulk, then I’m there.)
Because of this, I would much rather this recipe be called Mulligatawny Soup, but I’m not gonna try and rewrite history to suit my own preferences.
While I’m not a fan of stew, I am a massive fan of anything curry, the saltier and spicier the better. And bonus points out the buttcrack for coconut milk-based curries.
So I think I can overlook the name just this once…maybe.
I first had mulligatawny stew nearly a year ago, when I was still doing the food-writer-ing-editor-ing thing in Japan. One of the recipes submitted for a cold weather-themed spread I came up with was mulligatawny stew. I had never heard of it, but I needed photos for the spread, so I tried my hand at the contributor’s recipe (she is now one half of the food section editorial pair and her culinary endeavors are by far the most inspirational I’ve ever watched.) Needless to say, my attempt was a failure. I’m not a wonderful cook now, but a year ago I was abysmal. Unless I was making pasta or roasted potatoes, I was helpless. More stories about that throughout the year (think failed naan and that time I discovered chicken gizzard.)
My soup was thin, clear, and flavorless, but looked pretty enough in the photos. I’m trying to become more attuned to flavors in cooking and how to manipulate them. I have plenty of experience with pastry and baking that I can handle ingredients deftly, but when it comes to pots and pans, I’m a baby.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t trust this recipe. I put myself down but I have learned at least something since I started cooking. I spent the latter half of 2015 playing with soups (so expect a lot of soup recipes this winter and next), so I’m getting used to how things work together in the soup pot.
Between the first time I ever made mulligatawny stew and the recipe below, I noticed the big factor is the coconut milk. First of all, I’m lactose-intolerant and as I get older, my reactions become more intense/more frequent. Second of all, when there’s curry, there should also be coconut*. I can handle butter, but if you wanted to go full vegan, you could substitute coconut oil easily. If you’re paleo, coconut oil is the way to go, as well.
You may be thinking of green curry, which should actually taste like coconut, but I’m thinking of other curries. If you can’t handle dairy, don’t substitute soy milk. I learned the hard way (creamy vegan tomato soup) that soy milk breaks up. Coconut milk is smoother and holds together. I recently attempted tikka masala for the first time and had to make a non-dairy substitution. I thought coconut milk might be too strong a flavor for the tomato gravy, but you couldn’t even tell, and the texture was amazing.
So, when substituting for cream or milk, use coconut milk, and when substituting for butter, use coconut oil or other vegetable oils (peanut works very well.)
The chicken really adds to the soup but you could substitute it for vegetables of your choice (roasted cauliflower is brilliant, and as always, I love a good potato done any way. If you’re trying to cut back on starches, go with the cauliflower or some chickpeas.)
other important things I’ve learned:
1. Let the flavorings (garlic and onions) cook slowly and for a long time to really develop those particular flavors. In fact, cook everything for a little bit longer than you expect. Second, salt should be the last ingredient.
2. Most recipes say “salt for flavor” because salt determines the intensity of the other flavors. You can keep adding spices and it won’t change a thing if you don’t have any salt. Follow the recipe, and at the end, throw in a generous handful of salt, and then taste and adjust.
3. This one takes a long time to come together, so start preparing ~2 hours before you intend to eat. Fortunately this means you have time to prepare other things while the stew is going.
This is a perfect winter soup: it’s warm, rich and creamy, with enough spice to surprise you, but not so much that it’s hard to handle. The flavor is simultaneously light and strong, the broth is buttery even if you make it without butter, and the vegetables are sweet, savory, hearty, and refreshing. Using roasted cauliflower, or topping with roasted nuts, adds another delicious dimension, as well.
non-dairy mulligatawny soup/stew (with chicken but also with vegan substitutions included)
adapted from Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, by Melissa Joulwan
makes 9 servings (no really, it lasts a long time unless you eat it for every meal like I do)
2 yellow onions
1 large red apple
3 cloves garlic
1 lb carrots
salt and pepper
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh
oil (coconut, peanut, canola, etc.)
1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp flour or starch
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp allspice
2 bay leaves
1/2 c unsweetened coconut flakes
4 c chicken stock
Salt, to taste
1-2 c coconut milk
for topping: toasted sliced almonds, toasted cashews, toasted shredded coconut
Dice onions and put in a bowl by themselves.
Chop apples, mince garlic, and slice carrots, and put in a medium bowl together.
In a large, deep stock pot, heat ~1 Tbsp oil.
Lay chicken on a paper towel lined plate and dry off with paper towels.
Sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, and brown chicken on both sides. Remove meat and set aside in a bowl.
Add a little bit more oil to the pot and let it heat for a minute.
Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes until they begin to soften and brown.
Add garlic, carrots, and apple, and continue to cook until everything starts to soften and turn brown.
Mix curry powder, chili powder, flour, cayenne, and allspice together in a small bowl. Add the bay leaves and spice mixture to the vegetables, and sauté for about 10 minutes until the spices become dark and fragrant.
Meanwhile, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
Add the coconut flakes, and chicken stock to the pot, scrape up any brown bits at the bottom, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat, add chicken pieces, and simmer for about 45 minutes, until thickened, tasting along the way.
When soup is seasoned and thickened, turn off the heat and stir in the coconut milk.
For serving: toast some sliced almonds, cashews, or shredded coconut on the stove in a dry frying pan, until they brown noticeably (don’t worry about burnt nuts, they add flavor), and put on top of the stew. Warm up some naan the same way, in the same frying pan, or roast some seasoned chickpeas in the already-hot oven. Alternatively, put out some yogurt (dairy or non-dairy) to eat on the side or add to the stew for a contrast to the warmth of the soup.
instead of 2 lbs of chicken, use one head of cauliflower or 2 lbs white potatoes
instead of chicken stock, use vegetable stock
If using cauliflower, preheat your oven to 450 – 500 F, or preheat your broiler. Chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces, spread out on a baking sheet, coat lightly with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper.
When oven or broiler are ready, roast/broil cauliflower until it starts to blacken on top.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and cook the onions, carrots, apple, and garlic the same way as the non-vegan version above.
Add the spices, flour, and bay leaves as above and cook until darkened.
Add coconut flakes and vegetable stock, and scrape up any brown bits from the vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, until thickened noticeably.
If using potatoes, chop them into bite-sized pieces and add them to the soup.
If using cauliflower, add them to the pot about 20 minutes before the soup is done.
Simmer as above, turn off the heat when the soup is done, and stir in the coconut milk.
Garnish and serve as above.