Make Classic French Onion Soup at Home

If memory serves me correctly, I started cooking somewhere between 18 and 20 years old – definitely much later than the ‘Top Chef Kids’ we see today!  I was going to college and university and still living at home with my parents and younger siblings. (Going away to school was not a popular thing to do at that time where I lived since it was a major city with a number of high-quality universities close by.  In fact, from what I know, it is still very similar today).

As a tween and teen, I was interested in what my Mom was doing in the kitchen and always wanted to help.  My Mom was not keen to have us help in the kitchen. She used to say “go play”. When we asked her why she always said we’ll have plenty of years to cook when we are grown.  My Mom is a great cook and always made wonderful meals and desserts. We had lots of variety and ate nutritious, delicious, homecooked meals just about every day. At the same time, I later understood that a part of her found cooking tedious and wanted to get it done as efficiently as possible.  Teaching your young children to cook alongside you is definitely not efficient, as many of you know! Fortunately, when I did start to cook, my Mom was available and eager to answer questions on how she did things. I’m lucky to still have her as a resource today – and as years went on, she now sometimes calls me to ask me cooking questions or advice.  I take that as a real compliment!

When I started to assert myself in Mom’s kitchen and make parts of meals or whole meals, I always made things my Mom didn’t make.  It wasn’t because I was dissatisfied with her cooking, rather, I knew I couldn’t make her meals as well as she did, so I tried out recipes that were new for our family or things we had eaten occasionally in restaurants or at family and friend’s house.  Eventually, my Mom and the rest of the family grew to like the dishes I made and they became part of our rotation….(truthfully, my brother didn’t like anything I made!!! But, he was quite a picky eater as a kid. As an adult, he learned to love many more foods and he is also a very good cook!  I’ve learned a few good recipes from him too!)

One of the first dishes I made was soupe a l’ognion gratinee.  I enjoyed it in restaurants when I occasionally went out with friends and thought I’d like to try it out at home.  (And, now that I’m remembering, Mom did make this a few times in the ’70s…remember those brown onion oven safe onion soup bowls!!)  My first attempt at creating this recipe worked out well and I’ve tweaked it as the years went by to become the version that is listed below.  It’s a pretty easy recipe to make even though there are a few more steps than your average pot of homemade soup. fullsizeoutput_4deBut, it is worth the treat! The only issue for me is that it’s so filling that I always have difficulty deciding what to pair it with…when I started inviting friends for dinner in my early cooking years, I would usually pair it with my homemade Caesar salad.  Of course, all these years later, I realize that more protein is needed, so adding some grilled chicken to that Caesar would be a good option. Go to my June 19, 2018 blog to read the story of an unforgettable homemade Caesar dressing. Click here for the recipe.

Whether you decide to try this onion soup recipe as a meal on its own, or as the starter to a bigger meal, I am sure you will impress your friends and family with this one and make it again and again.  Let me know how it goes!

Happy cooking, friends!

Onion Soup au Gratin

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet Vidalia onion, or 4 to 6 medium cooking onions
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 litre best quality low salt beef stalk (or homemade beef stock)
  • Splash of cognac (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Dried or toasted French bread slices, about 1 inch thick
  • Approximately 4 ounces of strong white cheddar or gruyere cheese, sliced
  • 2 heaping tbsp quality parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Thinly slice onions and set aside
  2. Melt butter in pot
  3. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions are translucent and soft
  4. Add wine (and cognac if you are using it) and combine
  5. Next, add beef stock and seasonings
  6. Combine and simmer 20 to 30 minutes
  7. Preheat broiler
  8. Pour hot soup into oven/broiler safe bowls
  9. Cover top with dried or toasted French bread
  10. Cover toast with cheddar or gruyere, sprinkle parmesan on top
  11. Place bowls on baking sheet covered with foil and broil until cheese is melted and slightly browned

Tips:  Serve with a napkin around onion soup bowl handle because bowl will be very hot!

posted by: everydayhomegourmet.blog/  

 

Slow Cooker to the Rescue! Pork Chops with Apple, Potato, and Kale (Gluten Free!)

A slow cooker is a fantastic tool for anyone interested in creating time-saving healthy dishes.  My Mom first bought one in the late 70’s when she went back to work part-time after being home with three kids for many years.  She made a great beef pot roast with this tool and I’m sure she appreciated coming home to a fully cooked, warm, nutritious meal after a busy workday.  As an adult, I did not own a slow cooker until about 12 years ago when I inherited one. Since this appliance takes up valuable kitchen real estate, I thought I’d better figure out more recipes than Mom’s pot roast if it was going to be worth it to keep the slow cooker in my house.

I did figure out a number of recipes to make in the slow cooker and it has become an important tool in our house to help with weekday meal planning.  Many of the published slow cooker recipes call for searing the meat ahead of time and I never did that because I didn’t want to have another pan to clean…it seemed to defeat the purpose of the ease of using a slow cooker.  So, when my slow cooker broke a little more than a year ago, I investigated slow cookers with a sear option…I found this one with a stovetop-safe cooking pot that is very easy to clean…..I totally recommend this unit and would never again buy one without this option.  When I made Mom’s pot roast recipe with the new cooker, the increase in the depth and intensity of the flavour was amazing! 

So, this fall in my quest to create a new recipe for my slow cooker, I came up with this pork chop recipe that was cooked with apples, potatoes, carrots, onions, and kale.  Whenever I use the slow cooker, I always want to make sure that the dish is a balanced meal in itself so that there is nothing else you need to do for that meal. (Of course, adding a salad is always a good plan!)  We loved the flavours in this dish! It was slightly sweet because of the apples, which was a nice departure from my usual savoury cooking. There were four servings in this dish, with leftover veggies and broth. After the four servings were enjoyed, I didn’t want to throw away the remaining broth and veggies, so I pureed them with my hand blender and now had a lovely soup to enjoy for a few lunches!  You have to love it when your efforts limit waste and also provide easy extra meals!  The picture on the left is the pork chop dinner and the picture on the right is the leftover veggies, apples and broth blended into soup.  (If you are not into soup, use 6 pork chops and that would use up all the veggies).

Here’s what it looked like in progress:

Try this recipe out and let me know how you liked it!  Also, I’d love to hear about your favourite slow cooker recipes. Happy cooking friends!

The Daffodils Should be in Bloom…but We’re Still Warming up with Soup in my Corner of the World!

Normally on April 15th in my corner of the world, we are looking at daffodils in bloom and looking forward to the rest of the spring to come.  Instead, here’s was the view outside my door today!

Snow in April 2018
Notice the unhappy spring planter in the bottom right of the photo!

 

 

We’ve had two days of freezing rain and snow here, which is unusual for this time of year.  If you saw my Instagram post from three days ago, you would have read that Mother Nature has not yet turned her calendar to spring in my city.  It’s been cold, but for the last two days, Mother Nature has sent us some unrelenting and unwelcome winter weather.  So, for me, that means it’s still time for comfort food and so soup is once again on the stove!

 

I have this great recipe for low-fat cream of broccoli soup that I have been making for more than 20 years.  It calls for skim milk, chicken broth and flour as the thickening agent instead of cream.  It is delicious, but about 3 years ago I wanted to reduce the number of steps in the recipe, and eliminate the dairy and flour to make it more friendly for one of my family members who follows a gluten-free and lactose-free diet.  Continue reading “The Daffodils Should be in Bloom…but We’re Still Warming up with Soup in my Corner of the World!”

Cold days call for soup!

I love soups, especially in this cold, wintery weather.  I love how they warm my tummy on cold days and give a sense of comfort when we are feeling unwell.  There are many options for prepared soups, from simple, old-fashioned condensed canned soup to the more gourmet fully prepared type in today’s grocery stores.  These products can be tasty, but read the labels!  Most are quite high in salt, and other things that are best not to put into your body on a regular basis.  I love making soups at home.  These healthy alternatives fill your body with the goodness of a number of food groups and nutrients at once, and if you keep the recipe fairly simple, it doesn’t take much time at all.  If you make a big pot, you can have it for more than a few meals.  Soups are also something you can involve kids in making by having them collect all the ingredients for you and add to the pot, or by chopping the vegetables if they are old enough to handle a knife.  While the soup cooks, your house will be filled with that great aroma that brings a sense of home to everyone.  If you have been in the habit of eating prepared or store-bought soups for a while, your palate might take a little adjusting to enjoying your food with less salt, but in no time, you will prefer the taste of your own creations!  Stick with it, and you will do yourself a lot of good by reducing your intake of salt and additives, no matter what your age!  

I have been making soups for many years and really love them.  Today’s recipe is one I found last winter and it couldn’t be easier!  It’s also hearty enough to be a full meal, if you like.  And, it’s gluten-free and can be vegetarian if you use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and cooked chicken.  So it can be a meatless crowd pleaser for a skating party, Grey Cup party, Super Bowl party, your staff soup day at work, or the differing dietary needs of your family and friends.

Hearty Tomato and Grain Soup

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Hearty Tomato Grain Soup

I found this recipe on the package of PC Blue Menu Soup Mix in the winter of 2017 and I could not believe how easy and tasty it was!  I also add chopped carrots and celery in the last 15 minutes of cooking, and if I have some cooked chicken bits in the freezer that I saved from my last roast chicken, I add that too.  But the recipe is very delicious on it’s own, so go ahead and enjoy this easy, hearty dish!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mixed grains/legumes (brown rice, barley, split peas, lentils)
  • 1 – 20 ounce can diced tomatoes  (I prefer the no salt version)
  • 1 litre (4 cups) low salt chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • Half to one tbsp Olive Oil
  • ¾ cup chopped carrots (optional)
  • ¾ cup chopped celery (optional)
  • ¼ cup cooked chicken shredded or finely chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in pot; add chopped onion and cook until fragrant and translucent
  2. Add the mixed grains/legumes
  3. Add the can tomatoes
  4. Add chicken broth
  5. Add water
  6. Bring to a boil
  7. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 60 to 80 minutes.  Grains should be tender, but not too soft
  8. Optional:  In the last 15 minutes of cooking add chopped carrots, celery chicken, or whatever vegetables you prefer!                

posted by: everydayhomegourmet.blog/