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Feed a Cold….

April 11, 2011

I have been working a bunch this last week, both at Pendl’s and substitute teaching. Between the kids who smear their germy hands and faces all over the display case at the bakery and the kids at Alta and Tetonia Elementary schools who smear their snotty little hands all over everything, I seem to have developed quite the raging cold. I tried rest…that didn’t work. I tried sweating it out. That didn’t work. The latest plan…feed the cold and make it like me so much for feeding it so well that it will feel sorry for me and will go away.
Step one: Soup.
As it was a Sunday in Teton Valley which means the big grocery store was closed and I was working all morning. Alas I did not have time to thaw out the big chicken in the freezer nor could I pick up a pre-thawed bird. Yes chicken soup is the classic dish to soothe the sick soul, but I had to go for the next best thing…French Onion Soup.
As I slurped up my leftovers at lunch today, a few teachers asked me how I make my french onion soup. LEt me tell you…it is easy stuff.
1. caramelize some yellow onions. I used 2 large onions and had about 3 servings worth of soup. I usually heat 2 pots (one is the pot I will cook the soup in the other is usually a large frying pan) on medium-high heat and add butter and a little olive oil to each (yesterday it was 1-2 tbs butter and 1 tbs olive oil). I slice the onions and split them up amongst a couple of pots so that they caramelize rather than sweat and/or steam. I add a pinch of salt and sugar to the onions (yesterday it was about 1/4 tsp salt in each pan and 2 tsp sugar in each pan). Once they look like they are browning, turn the heat down and slowly cook until caramelized. You should stir often. This will take about 45 minutes to an hour and is THE KEY to good French Onion Soup.
2. Deglaze the pan: Once onions are caramelized I put them all into the soup pot and deglaze the pan with some sort of alcohol. I have tried many kinds, red and white wine, vermouth, etc, but my favorite is brandy. Pour in about 1/2 c and scrape up the bits of onion off the bottom of the pan. Once the brandy has reduced to a glaze, Add in your beef stock. I am sure homemade is probably best, but as I have yet to experiement with beef stock, I just use boxed stock. My favorite is Pacific Brand. I think it has a nice rich flavor and is not salty.
3. Add spices. Toss in 1-2 bay leaves and a pinch or two of thyme…fresh if you have it otherwise dried. Season with a little more salt and some pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes.
4. Serve with a big chunk of cheesy bread. Traditionally gruyere or emmenthaler are the types of cheese that pour over the top of the soup. Deli style swiss cheese will do in a pinch or on a budget. Slice your bread, top it with cheese and melt the cheese in the toaster oven or under the broiler.
5. Serve.
6. Get healthy

If this doesn’t work, tomorrow I am making Mexican Chicken Soup…the key…jalapenos and diced tomatoes. Yum.

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