French Onion Soup

So here's something I've been thinking about lately. Body image.

Last night my husband and I had a conversation. I guess he is frustrated by the way my brain turns all the nice things he says about me into insults. Like he could literally say, "You look gorgeous today". And my brain would be like, "TODAY, hmm? Not all those other days. Anna, you have got to try harder!" And then I feel bad.

And then he feels bad.

It's worse lately, too. And I mean, who can blame me about being unsure of myself? I am pregnant. I have mass. I am a walking ecosystem.

I am...fat. What? Shhh! Don't say that word.


All right. I won't. But this is a food blog, and maybe it's worth bringing it up after all.

Food can make you f....that word. It's true.

But I think maybe that is why I like eating it.

I like food because it is like a rebellion. It's like telling all the world and all those voices that tell you who you need to be and what you need to look like, to shove it.

People see fat as ugly and undesirable. But food is not ugly. Food is beautiful. And food is natural. Food comes from the earth. It grows. It's free. At least in its natural state it is. Money may not grow on trees, but apples do, and apples are better than money anyways. Food is a gift from the universe, suggesting that someone up there loves us. It tells us we are connected to something, this earth, and as it sacrifices for us right now, someday we will sacrifice for it too.

And that it will be okay when that happens. Because if nothing went into the ground, nothing would grow back out of it.

And I find that, somehow, when I cook for myself with this attitude, I don't get fat. But better yet, if I did, I wouldn't care.

So here's to food. Cure for neurosis and marriage-improver. So glad I found you.

French Onion Soup (recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Let me advise you right now to commit a whole afternoon to this. It takes a long time! At least, it did for me. But it is worth it. Get a good bread, get a good cheese, get a good movie to watch while the onions caramelize, and have at it. You will be warm and full and happy. I promise.

1 1/2 pounds (3 or 4) thinly sliced yellow onions
3 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 t table salt, plus additional to taste
1/4 t granulated sugar (helps the onions to brown)
3 T all-purpose flour
2 quarts (8 cups) beef or other brown stock
1/2 c dry white wine or dry white vermouth
Freshly ground black pepper

To finish (the recipe says optional, but it isn't really, is it?)
1 T grated raw onion
1 to 2 c (to taste) grated Swiss (I often use Gruyere) or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan cheese
1 T butter, melted
12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a 4- to 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown (took me a bit longer than this - go by color rather than time). Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup.

After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed. Correct seasonings if needed but go easy on the salt as the cheese will add a bit more saltiness of its own.

Set aside until needed.

Preheat oven to 325. Arrange six ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bring the soup back to a boil and divide among six bowls. To each bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon grated raw onion and a tablespoon of grated cheese. Stir to combine. Dab your croutons with a tiny bit of butter and float a few on top of your soup bowls, attempting to cover it. Mound grated cheese on top of it; how much you use will be up to you.

Bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler. Finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly. Grab pot holders, and serve immediately.


Kris Ngoei said...

Very wise observation of food. Sometimes I ponder and appreciate how good life feels because of good food. And greatly feel so blessed that I am given to chance to chew and taste :-)

This French onion soup is definitely worth the effort. One glance at it I am just convinced!

Mumsfilibaba said...

Hmmm...a marriage improver. Maybe I should try this ;).

CherylK said...

I love French onion soup and I've never, ever made it! This is probably a sign that I should, right? Thanks for the great looking recipe.

Hang in're just going through normal pregnancy self-image blues. I hope you have a wonderful long weekend.

Shaunee said...

I used to love French Onion Soup, and then once after I made it, I had REALLY bad breath for the rest of the day. I think it was the carmelized onions? I've had the same bad breath after salted carmel hot chocolate. Anyone have answers for a confused ex-french onion soup fan?

a. maren said...

o no, shaunee! strange! i usually find that cooking those smelly veggies like onions and garlic makes them much breath friendlier, but maybe not! or maybe they were differently cooked in the soup you had? hmmm...strange! or maybe it's just...caramel?