Not only is it cold outside, it's in the middle of the worst flu/cold/pneumonia streak I've seen in a long time. So what better to eat on a day like today than onions ? The maligned onion...lol...that has so many health benefits it isn't funny. And since I have a lot of onions (on sale for about 20 cents a pound !!) it seemed like the perfect day for French Onion Soup. I sliced about 5 pounds of onions, give or take, to start this awesome peasant soup. It's one of our favorites and a perfect choice for the pantry challenge.
To make this yummy soup, all you really need is butter, onions and stock. I have both chicken and vegetable stock in my pantry that I can myself. The vegetable stock is from garden and food scraps and the chicken is from well, chicken. lol Every year I will buy leg and thigh chicken quarters when they are at ridiculously low prices. I have gotten them as low as .29/lb but generally they are around .49/lb. A great price for usable protein to keep in the freezer and pantry. Sometimes I pull the meat and freeze it and sometimes I can it. I cook them down in my big tabletop roaster for 24 hours or so and wind up with all kinds of yummy stock that I can. I do the same thing at Thanksgiving with turkey. If you don't have stock, you can use bouillon. Not my favorite, but it can work. Most traditional onion soups use beef stock as a main ingredient, but we don't eat that much beef, so--there ya go.
So first thing--peel and slice the onions into a wide heavy bottomed pan. I use my Revere ware dutch oven. Melt one stick of butter and start those onions cooking !
This is the hardest part of the whole thing. Stirring stirring and waiting for those onions to caramelize. Has to be done on medium low heat so's not to scorch them. Takes forever (at least by today's standards).Trust me--they will eventually start to change colors and the aromas are heavenly.
Here is where they start to turn a deep golden color, and you want them a little darker. They get all mooshy and yummy and let them go just a little longer. Then I add the stock, some water, a little Penzey's Pepper and some granulated garlic. I rarely add salt, because the butter has plenty. Then I let it simmer. If it isn't dark enough to please you, you can always add some Kitchen Bouquet. That's it. Honest.
When it comes time to serve it, I put the bread in the bottom of the bowl and cheese on top of bread (Gruyere is best, Swiss will work and today I used Muenster and Parmesan, because that's what I had. Then ladle the soup over the top. I made a Focaccia bread today, topped with sea salt and Italian seasonings, and that's what I used. It was delightful...
So...tonight's supper was about $1.50 for the bread and about $2.00 for the soup. And there's enough leftovers of both to make at least 2 more lunches. Yee Haw. And I barely touched any of my pantry foods for this. Breakfast was homemade granola for him and 2 hard boiled eggs and some bacon for me. Lunch for me was popcorn, and he took some leftovers from the fridge.
Bon Apetit !! (in a frugal kind of a way)