With all the rich food and multi-course meals of the holiday season, we like to take a simpler approach. We make a few pots of homemade soup a few days ahead and then reheat them when everyone comes over.
This year we had Chinese Chicken Soup (see previous post) and French Onion Soup.
For the Chinese Chicken, I splurged on a $3 bag of frozen edamame, water chestnuts, snow peas, and those weird little corns instead of just plain old green beans, along with the whole bag of bean sprouts. It was yummy.
The French Onion Soup recipe came from The Cook's Encyclopedia of Soup that I bought at Barnes & Noble a bazillion years ago.
1 Tablespoon butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 large onions, finely sliced (~3#)
2-5 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 1/4 quarts beef stock
2 Tablespoons brandy (optional)
French bread, sliced thick and toasted
3 cups grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 10-12 minutes until they are soft and beginning to brown.
Putting one garlic clove aside, finely chop the rest and add to the onions. Add the sugar and thyme and continue cooking over medium heat for 30-35 minutes until the onions are brown, stirring frequently. (Note: the sugar will stick to the pan bottom and add to the brown color of the soup)
Sprinkle the flour over and stir until well blended. Stir in the wine and stock and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam from the surface. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in the brandy, if using.
Heat the broiler. Rub each sliced of toasted French bread with the remaining garlic clove. Place 6 or 8 flameproof soup bowls on a cookie sheet and fill them about three-quarters full with the onion soup.
Float a piece of toast in each bowl. Top with grated cheese, dividing it evenly. Broil about 6 inches from the heat for 3-4 minutes until the cheese begins to melt and bubble. Serve piping hot.
If the crowd is bigger than 6 people, I usually make another soup, a creamy one, so that there's plenty for everyone to have a bit of each. I serve either crusty French bread or, if I have time, I make an easy refrigerator roll dough into Parmesan crescents to dip in the broth. One of these days I'll post that recipe.