Monday, February 23, 2009

Holey Swiss Cheese Batman, on my Onion Soup!

Let's face it, nowadays it's easy to find recipes for just about anything. So when we had leftover, now flat, champagne, a 3lb bag of onions and some stew beef in the freezer it would have been all too easy to make something like this . But where is the fun in that? One of the joys of cooking, at least for me, is the feeling of adventure (have you read the blog title?) and creativity. Besides, we had beef but no beef stock and yes I could have bought some, but in the interest of being thrifty I decided to strike out on my own and create something that at least closely resembled French Onion soup. Here's what I did:

For Soup:
.5lb Stew Beef
2lb Onions
1 Stalk Celery
1/2 Stick Butter
2 tsp Dry Thyme
1 Bay leaf
2 tsp Salt
1 Tbs Flour
4 c. Water
1/2-3/4 c. Dry white wine or flat Champagne

For Garnish:
1 Baguette (Thickly sliced, the more stale the better)
Cheese (Usually Gruyere, Emmental, or Cantal, are used)

Slice all your onions and celery, however thick or thin you like, remember they have to fit on a spoon. Try not to cry (I failed this step). Set aside. Get a big pot out, at least an 8qt. Add a smidge of oil to the bottom, set to med-hi heat and throw in beef chunks to sear. You don't want to cook them, just get them nice and crisp on all sides. When this has happened take out beef and set it aside. Turn the heat down to med and add butter, thyme, and salt. Let the butter melt without burning it and then throw in your onions and celery. Stir them around so they are coated in butter mix. Take a moment to inhale deeply and smile. Onions and thyme are like rainbows and sunshine for you nose. Cook down onions slowly till they begin to turn brown. Ok, here comes the kinda tricky part. You know that tablespoon of flour this recipe calls for? Well you need it to make a roux. This is actually the main reason you used such a big pot. Push onions to the sides of the pot and slowly add your flour to the butter on the bottom while stirring constantly. Alternatively you can melt a little more butter in a bowl in the microwave, mix the flour in and then pour this on top of your onions. (A little extra butter never hurt anyone, right?) At this point you have a choice. You can transfer the onions and the beef you have set aside into a crock pot, add the water, champagne and bay leaf and let it cook on low all day (this is what I did because I had to go to work) Or you can add the beef, liquid, and bay leaf directly to your onion pot, turn down the heat and simmer until the beef is done and everything is a nice golden brown color. It's really just a matter of preference/how much clean up you want to have later.

When you are ready to serve your oh-so-wonderful soup get some bowls that can withstand broiler heat and ladle your soup into them. Top bowls with a slice of your crusty bread and sprinkle the whole thing with a generous amount of cheese. Put bowls on a cookie sheet and set them under the broiler. When the cheese gets nice and bubbly take them out and enjoy! Oven warning: all broilers/ovens are different, I would crack the door a bit and watch the bowls because it probably wont take more than a minute or so for the cheese to melt and seconds after that the whole thing is burnt and you have ruined all your hard work!

So there you have it, French Onion soup made without beef stock but with beef actually in it. It may not be perfectly traditional but it still tasted oh so sweet ;)

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