Monday, March 10, 2008

Six-Onion Soup

I was all worried about tonight's dinner. After a weekend of glorious, unrestricted, over the top eating in NYC, I was really apprehensive about a vegetarian weeknight dinner. That sounds horribly trite. What I mean to say is that, with our car out of reach for grocery-shopping purposes (long, tedious story), none of my recipes seeming both simple and interesting flavor-wise, and my favorite fellow-diner who generally finds veggie-based stock an extremely poor substitute for meat stock, well, I was anticipating an anti-climatic meal. Inspiration was distinctly lacking.

Six-Onion Soup
Originally uploaded by Neenabeena

Well, it's after nights like tonight that I feel completely justified in owning a disproportionately huge collection of cookbooks. (Disproportionate with respect to the size of our "cute" apartment). Most of our well-used, well-perused cookbooks sport 10-30 multicolored adhesive bookmarks, evoking the image of a badly-cut mohawk. One of these bookmarks has been tenaciously flagging the Silver Palate's Six-Onion Soup for months now. Oh my gosh, what a discovery! The soup turned out to be one of the best homemade meals we've had this month. I was dubious, but you actually can taste an un-pinnable-downable complexity from all those different varieties of onion. That complexity was almost hauntingly addictive, especially with some fresh ground pepper; you wouldn't want to distract from that interesting flavor with cream and chicken stock. The texture is more hearty, pulpy, bistro-style as opposed to uber delicate and suave, goes well with a hunk o bread and an under $20 bottle of wine. Success!

There was admittedly an episode of the burning croûtons, which involved me flailing and yelping and D rapidly detaching the toaster oven from the wall and holding out our two-story window to prevent the fire alarm from going off. He later gleefully reported, "See? I'm not the only one that burns shit."

It definitely also made me happy that we finally broke out the Royal Copenhagen porcelain spoons that I swooned over and finally bought in Denmark last December. I really think that their patterns are the ultimate in sophistication, class. During a transatlantic layover, I dragged a very jet-lagged Do to their flagship in a very cold downtown Copenhagen at 9 a.m. on the Saturday before Christmas, and nearly swooned from lust. (In case you were wondering, no, Do could not comprehend my coveting the damn china). Of course, with the Euro what it is, I could only afford two spoons... but oh do I love them. My own, my precious.

Perhaps predicting that I would share my passion for these freakin' spoons and thereby terrify all our readers, D decided to serve and share with all y'all one of our tried-and-true American Rieslings. Because his passion for wine clearly makes so much more sense than my passion for the spoons. :)

Recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook (my changes in italics)

4Tbs butter (try olive oil next time, for some semblance of healthiness)
2 cups chopped yellow onion
4 large leeks, white part only, chopped
1/2 chopped shallots
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (you can bet I used 6)
4 cups Chicken stock (Use Veggie stock, Chicken might overwhelm the delicate onion complexity)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Lots of salt and pepper
1 cup heavy cream (don't use, it's too rich and heavy. If you want a thickener, use a roux or cook a potato in with the onions -- it's starch will act as a thickener)
3 scallions, trimmed and diagonally cut into 1/2 inch pieces
toasted croûtons and snipped fresh chives for garnish.
  1. Melt butter in the pot, and add the onions, leeks, shallots, and garlic and cook, covered, over low heat until the vegetables are tender and lightly covered, about 25 minutes.
  2. Add the stock, thyme, and bay leaf, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer partially covered, for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the bay leaf, and Vroom-vroom the soup. (Ok, so Silver Palate doesn't use those words. Think of it as poetic onomatopoeia.)
  4. Here's where you don't whisk in the heavy cream. Instead, add the scallions and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. Ladle into bowls, garnish with croûtons and chives, and Voilà!
Serves 4-6.


JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This sounds like a totally awesome soup! Yum!

See all those cookbooks DO come in handy in a crisis! :)

Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll!

Kevin said...

This onion soup does sound tasty.

Paul said...

I first made this soup in 1985: I have yet to meet its equal. Bravo!

Hayford Peirce said...

I've been making this off and on for more than 20 years now and will be doing it again later this week as a first course for guests. I use the original recipe, using chicken stock AND the cream -- I don't see how it could be what it is intended to be without cream! Come on, now! One cup of cream is 16 tablespoons -- divided by six servings, say, that comes to about 2.5 tablespoons per person! Live it up a little: cream and butter are what make life worth living!