Tuesday, August 30, 2011

French Onion Soup A' La Anne

I'm a big fan of Alton Brown so when he did French Onion Soup over a decade ago, my then-husband and I decided that we had to try it.  It was some GOOD soup and I added the recipe to my repertoire for use when I found some cheap onions.

Over the years, I've used the concepts I learned in that show to make some damn good bases for soups and stews.  Nothing like 4+  lbs of stewed onions to give your chicken stew some serious depth.

A few weeks ago, of friend of mine stopped by the house and handed me a bag full of red onions.  She volunteers every week at a drop-off point for the local food bank.  Sometimes there are extras and sometimes there are things the participants don't want so they place them in a box to be "recycled" into the system.  Problem is, the food bank doesn't want the perishables back.  Instead of tossing them, the volunteers take what they want...and my friend takes whatever is left and passes it on to me and a few other friends.

I guess no one wanted red onions that day because I got at least 10 lbs of red onions dropped on my kitchen floor.  Since I was one day post-surgery at the time, I had her toss them into my onion bag in the cupboard for use later when I could think again. (Percocet makes my brain....well....dull.)

Fast forward to this morning when I opened that cupboard and was hit by this....smell.  *shudder shudder*  I knew that smell well - rotting onions.  So, after I made breakfast for everyone (I cook breakfast and dinner - that's the extent of my household activities these days), I put the stew pot on the stove, tossed in a stick of butter, and started slicing onions.  By the time mom got up at 9:30, the onions were stewing down and I had nicely cleaned sinuses (those onions were STRONG!)

Once they were cooked down to mush and caramelized nicely, I added 4 bags of my frozen chicken broth, a shot of vinegar (I don't have any wine in the house - it doesn't mix well with pain killers), brought the mess to a boil, and allowed it to boil down until it reached a nice syrupy consistency - that took about two hours, most of which I spent lying in bed reading.  Since I'm not a big fan of vegetarian meals, I also added in a bag of cooked chicken to add protein and stretch the meal across 4 people.

And wha-la!  We have dinner!

Now yes, this recipe takes some time but let me tell you - it's WELL worth the wait, even without the bread and cheese crust on top.  ;-) 

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