If It's Friday It Must Be Soup Dec 10/10 French Onion Soup
I have to be honest. I really, really wanted to make sopa de lima today. Jen, from Piccante Dolce, was kind enough to bring me along with her this week to a dinner put on by the Mexican Tourism Board at Frida, a fabulous Mexican restaurant in Toronto. UNESCO has recognized Mexican cuisine's cultural heritage and added it to the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. How cool is that? We got to dine on multiple courses, all representing different UNESCO recognized sites throughout Mexico. It was a very special experience for me because Mexico is a country of my heart - sorry, I know that sounds incredibly cheesy, but it's true. I have travelled quite a bit there over the last 20 years or so and have an incredible affinity for it's culture and it's food.
I am going to wait for Jen to write about it and then I will link you to her post and I will chime in with my thoughts at that time.
Okay, back to soup. Shack loves French Onion Soup and I am kind of enjoying my run of good luck making new things (new for me anyway) that he has been loving so I am going to push the sopa de lima back a bit and continue on with my winning streak. I did a ton of reading and found a million recipes but I chose to follow this recipe from Cook's Illustrated. Instead of just caramelizing the onions in a skillet on the stovetop for 45 minutes, this method required almost 3 hrs of time but the first 2 3/4 hrs they were left, pretty much unattended, in the oven. So, longer time commitment but less work sounded reasonable to me since I was planning to spend the day at home anyway, catching up on Dexter, I mean HOUSEWORK. Instead, after the first hour in the 400F oven a friend called and asked me to go see a movie with her, so I turned the oven down to 225F and left the onions in there for another 3 hrs. When I came home, I half expected to open the oven to find a little lump of coal under the loosely tented foil but instead, I found silky, melty caramelized onions!!
Since I don't have a LeCreuset enamelled cast iron dutch oven, I did the onions in my super, duper heavy cast iron skillet and after the final de glazing with sherry, I put it in a soup pot and carried on from there and it worked out beautifully.
After that, I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter and we both really liked the soup. I forgot to add some parmesan to the cheese and Shack said his only change would be to add that - he thinks the parmesan will add a bit of needed saltiness as well. I think it really is a great recipe and did not require any tweaking apart from the addition of freshly grated parmesan to the cheesy crust. Doing the onions for hours in the oven really is a time commitment but in the end, a zillion times easier than doing them stovetop and the flavour is so much richer and deeper this way. My aunt told me that she has also done them in her slow cooker for a few hours and that is an intriguing idea. The only down side to this dish was the fact that after chopping all of the onions and caramelizing them for the first hour, I hopped into my friend's car smelling like a giant, walking, buttery, caramelized onion. Attractive in a soup, not so much in a car mate.
On the bright side, if I keep this up, I will have my Kitchen Aid pasta attachment in no time.