Monday, May 3, 2010

Soup From Scratch

I set out to make onion soup from scratch the other day. Two days later, we actually sat down to eat it.

I had read about roasting bones to make beef stock and wanted to see how much better it might be than the usual canned broth I use. So, I collected some soup bones from my butcher, roasted them along with some aromatic veggies, then made broth by covering them with water and adding more veggies (carrots, onions, celery, bay leaf) and simmering them until they yelled "uncle!"

The resulting broth was nicely colored but not really very flavorful by itself and it only made one quart. I decided to forge ahead, hoping that the broth would add vitamins to the soup, if nothing else.

The onion soup recipe I used was Julia Child's classic from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, volume one. Julia seemed to feel that canned broth was not a terrible sin; made me wonder why I had been so gung-ho to create my own broth. Never mind, onward!

The long, slow cooking that Julia suggests for the onions did take a considerable time, as she warned before I began. Nearly an hour later, they were limp and golden brown, really quite lovely. I covered them with the boiling broth and simmered them for another 40-50 minutes, adjusting seasoning and adding wine and cognac as the recipe suggested. Ladled into bowls, it was topped with crunchy garlic croutons and a few batons of Gruyère strewn across the top to droop down into the soup, and served steaming hot. The first two pictures I tried to take fogged my lens.

My Beloved, who is the onion soup aficionado in our family, loved it. He remarked on how rich it tasted, and how layered. He usually peppers everything that goes into his mouth but he left the soup alone, just ducking his head and slurping his way through his bowl. I served some buttered herb toasts alongside and he used his last toast to chase the rest of the broth and the last few onions around his bowl.

I'd call this soup a big success, except that it took about 20X longer to make it than it took to eat it, not my favorite ratio. Next time, I'd go for canned stock to see if we could truly taste the difference. What's good enough for Julia is usually fine by me.

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Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

Shh, don't tell, but I use canned stock quite a bit too ;)

Monday, May 03, 2010  
Blogger Greg said...

I have to stop reading your posts early in the morning. My tummy is growling and mouth mouth watering!It's not even breakfast time yet.

Monday, May 03, 2010  
Blogger Louis la Vache said...

Swanson has a new aseptic package of beef stock that eliminates the problem of the tinny taste canned broth can have - and because it is stock rather than broth, it has a richer taste.

Monday, May 03, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Me, too, Greg. 9:33 a.m. and I'm suddenly ravenous.
Nice experiment, Zooms.

Monday, May 03, 2010  
Blogger Louis la Vache said...

Zoomie, «Louis» borrowed your coffee cups for tomorrow's post (0001 Paris time).


Monday, May 03, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Morgan, my lips are sealed.

Greg, onion soup for breakfast? Well, why not?

Louis, I have found good organic stocks packaged that way and I do use them frequently. Easier to store than cans, too.

Cookiecrumb, thanks.

Louis, good luck with that.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010  

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