Monday, November 22, 2010

French onion soup

From this week: whole wheat bread made last night (I'll spare you the recipe; it was unsuccessful to say the least)

From weeks past: thyme, parrano cheese

Staples: vegetable broth, butter, olive oil, garlic, onions, spices

I'm on a strict soup diet until Thanksgiving... except today I had a salad... and a pear... and 7 hershey kisses, a mini twix, and two airheads.

Very strict diet. For example, this french onion soup starts like this:

Okay, for serious, I am going to be eating a lot of soup this week, but it's not really for the sake of my health (although I suppose soup is a good way to prep for binge-eating). Really, I'm limiting myself to soup because once again I'm resisting the urge to grocery shop, since it's a short week. I still have chicken and rice soup left from last week's Potomac haul, and I planned to live off of that and tuna and pb&js made with the poorly-executed bread I baked last night.

Well, that's what I planned, but it's near impossible for me to get home from work and not cook, even when the only fresh foods I have are onions and near-moldy thyme. Onions --> onion soup --> Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. When I saw that the recipe called for fresh thyme (bonus points for near-moldy), I knew it was my destiny to make vegetarian onion soup tonight.

Even with all the butter, it's a bit lighter than traditional beef broth-based onion soup, but I think this is as close as a vegetarian recipe could get to the rich, beefy classic. A bay leaf, worcestershire sauce, and lightly charred onions sauteed (in butter) until golden brown are the keys to success.

That, and serving it up in this cuteness:

French Onion Soup
Adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian Charred Onion Soup

4 large or 6 small onions, peeled and halved through the root
2 tbsps olive oil
4 tbsps butter
1 small head garlic, halved through the equator, plus 1 clove
1 bay leaf
leaves of 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices crusty bread
1/2 cup cheese (gruyere or other melty cheese), shredded

Preheat broiler. Pour olive oil onto cookie sheet, then rub cut sides of onions in the oil. Arrange onion halves cut-side up on the cookie sheet. Broil onions until lightly charred and slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Remove onions and cool them until they can be handled. Thinly slice. Pour excess olive oil into deep soup pot and add butter. Melt over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until melty and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme leaves, broth, and salt and pepper. Raise heat, bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes. Turn heat down to low, add worcestershire sauce, and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, rub bread with garlic, and toast. When soup is ready, ladle it into oven-proof bowls. Top with toast and cheese, then broil until cheese is golden and bubbly.

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