Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Onion Soup with Mushrooms

It's soup weather here in Southern California--or it will be later this week--we're expecting rain.

Onion soup holds a special place with our family.
Our daughter Karen went through a serious French Onion Soup phase when she was young--she liked it so much she ordered it at every restaurant--and judged how good the restaurant was by the quality of their soup.


I think this soup warrants a  closer look, don't you?


This version is a little different, it's got mushrooms in it, and an apple.
I made it with small crimini mushrooms, the next time I make it I'm going to try it with shiitake and shimeji mushrooms. I think that will be good.


adapted from Cooking Light--serves 10

Ingredients:

6 large brown onions, quartered and sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
10 oz. small crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 apple, cored, peeled and julienne cut
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup Madiera wine or dry sherry
1 sourdough baugette, cut into cubes and toasted
8 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon vegetarian beef base or 6 cups beef broth

optional:

1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar


Start by slicing the onions--it will cook down so don't worry it's too much.
Get the onions cooking over medium high heat in a large dutch oven or pot by melting the butter, adding the onions, and stirring frequently for several minutes. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until the onions brown (watch the heat so they don't burn) for about an hour, stirring occasionally.


In the meantime, slice the mushrooms and julienne cut the apple.


The onions take some time, but be patient. You could caramelize them in a large skillet, it goes a little faster, but you still have to be patient, especially when you're doing a lot of onions. After the onions caramelize, add the mushrooms, apple and pepper, and cook for another few minutes until the mushrooms wilt a little, then add 1/2 cup wine and loosen the brown bits at the bottom of the pan with your spatula or spoon.


Add 8 cups of water and 2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon beef base or 6 cups beef broth. If you're using the optional apple cider, put it in now. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.


While that's cooking, preheat broiler and cut the sourdough baguette into cubes and broil until lightly browned, about 1 minute on each side.


Preheat oven to 500ºF.
If using the optional sherry vinegar, add it now. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Using oven safe bowls, ladle soup into bowls placed on a baking sheet, put a few pieces of sourdough cubes on top of the soup and sprinkle with grated Gruyere.


I like having leftovers--the soup is really good the next day.
Here it is again using the bowls I got for the Pizza Pot Pies.


We only used about a tablespoon of shredded cheese and decided to leave the thick gooey layer of decadence for restaurant fare.


Garnish with a thyme sprig.

I sent Karen a picture of our Onion Soup with Mushrooms and she answered, "No Fair!"--she's jealous and lives too far away to pop over and have some. She calls it F.O. Soup--French Onion Soup. When she was in junior high, she liked it so much she ate F.O. Soup everyday--sometimes twice a day--for 8 days straight.

Ah--the Good Ol' Days.



Itadakimasu!



Still a few more days for our Giveaway, until the Lunar New Year, January 23rd, 2012.



***



Remember my nieces?


Hannah and Leslie?
 (Look at Rick in the background getting into the picture!)

I entered into a vegetarian challenge with them at the beginning of 2010.

Hannah is still a vegetarian, but Leslie and I are not.
I did well--it was pretty easy since I was doing it with them--but a year-and-a-half later Leslie sent us a message:

I just wanted you to know I ate meat.
I'm going to be a flexitarian.

Leslie and I agreed, it's too difficult for us at get-togethers with family and friends not to eat what everyone makes. For me, it almost felt...disrespectful...at times. I also noticed some of the older family members stressing over what to prepare for the vegetarians, which made me a bit uncomfortable. As easy as it is for me to serve everyone's dietary preferences, it's not easy for others--and as much as I've said, "Don't worry about it, I'll bring something vegetarian," when going to eat at someone's home, I discovered it caused some degree of stress for the hostess. Is it because as an American-Japanese I was taught not be be a bother--to conform? Was it because I was raised eating meat and like it or because I didn't fully adopt vegetarianism as a conviction?

In any case, I like Leslie's idea--

flexitarian--a diet that is plant based with occasional meats.

That seems to suit me best.


***


Onion Soup with Mushrooms-Serves 10

Ingredients:

6 large brown onions, quartered and sliced
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
10 oz. small crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 apple, cored, peeled and julienne cut
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup Madiera wine or dry sherry
1 sourdough baugette, cut into cubes and toasted
8 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon vegetarian beef base or 6 cups beef broth

Optional: 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

Get the onions cooking over medium high heat in a large dutch oven or pot by melting the butter, adding the onions, and stirring frequently for several minutes. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until the onions brown (watch the heat so they don't burn) for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, slice the mushrooms and julienne cut the apple.

After the onions caramelize, add the mushrooms, apple and pepper, and cook for another few minutes until the mushrooms wilt a little, then add 1/2 cup wine and loosen the brown bits at the bottom of the pan with your spatula or spoon. Add 8 cups of water and 2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon beef base or 6 cups beef broth. If you're using the optional apple cider, put it in now. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Preheat broiler and cut the sourdough baguette into cubes and broil until lightly browned, about 1 minute on each side.

Preheat oven to 500ºF.

If using the optional sherry vinegar, add it now. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Using oven safe bowls, ladle soup into bowls placed on a baking sheet, put a few pieces of sourdough cubes on top of the soup and sprinkle with grated Gruyere. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Karolyn, I've been reading your blog for awhile now and this is my first time commenting. I just wanted to let you know that this recipe looks amazing! I will definitely be making it soon. It seems like a really nice twist on a classic French Onion soup, which I love. I think your pictures and descriptions and stories are marvellous. Thanks for making such an awesome blog!

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  2. I love mushrooms and the idea of adding them to a french onion soup. So lovely and meaty. It looks even better in those cute soup bowls you have.

    I have the exact same feelings about going fully vegetarian. You described it perfectly. I almost always prefer vegetable dishes, but I do enjoy meat/poultry/fish sometimes (especially in pho!) and have thought a lot about get-togethers. I think variety makes life more interesting :)

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  3. Are those bowls from create and barrel? I have as well as was wondering if I can use in oven?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Marco, Yes, the bowls are from Crate and Barrel. They work great for me in the oven with this recipe, the Pizza Pot Pie and Chicken Pot Pie. :)

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