Lately I’ve felt a strange drive to find some great vegetarian soups. Maybe it’s the result of years of restaurant and grocery store soups presenting me with watery, boring broth-based concoctions with mushy veggies and rice. Try Olive Garden’s minestrone and you’ll know what I’m talking about. It always seemed like the best soups, the flavorful, appetizing ones, were made with various kinds of meat stock, thereby limiting my choices to veggie chili (ugh…) or the watery-rice-vegetable-tomato paste slop.
French Onion has remained a tantalizing little devil of a soup. Blast you, soup, for smelling so scrumptious but forever stewing in beef broth. But today, mind you, TODAY, the tables have turned. I finally thought to look at a recipe and get over my thought that French Onion would be a complicated mess to make. I pictured the process as a meltdown similar to Julie Powell’s beef bourguignon in Julie and Julia, but I should have known better, for that movie is stupid and this soup is easy-peasy.
My rant on Julie and Julia: I love Meryl Streep. She can do anything, even take on the ice. My sweet, darling Meryl did a heck of a portrayal of Julia Child. It’s the other half of the movie that is so irritating and absurd that it insults my intelligence as an out-of-work college graduate.
First off, the Julie Powell character is plain annoying and whiny. I don’t blame the husband for rolling his eyes. On the other hand, the big domestic argument is one of the most contrived scenes I’ve ever seen. This is how I remember it going….
Julie: Wahhh! My idol food critic can’t make it to the dinner we arranged tonight and I prepared this meal for 6 hours! Ugh I’m exhausted.
Eric the Husband: God!*$#it, Julie, this isn’t always about you! So you spent forever on this! Shut up! I’m OUT OF HERE!
Cue the husband walking out of the apartment and sleeping in his office for 2 nights. How long have these people known each other?
Well, I love to burst a bubble. Turns out the real-life Julie Powell embarked on a 2-year long adulterous affair when she completed her famous book, Julie and Julia. In her latest book, Cleaving, she details the whole thing. Read more about that here. She’s some lady, I tell ya.
Okay. I’m done. Make some soup, why don’t you?
Easy French Onion Soup
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Note: Use a big ol’ pot for this. I used my wok for the onions, and it held the whole soup once I poured in the broth and wine. Still, you need to have a separate pot on the burner to heat up the broth.
- 6 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 gigantic yellow onions did the job for me, but I’m sure like 5 or 6 little baby onions would work, too)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 8 cups veggie broth (I used my Knorr bouillon cubes, of course. If you aren’t vegetarian, you could go the traditional route with beef stock.)
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 cups shredded Fontina cheese
- 1 loaf crusty French bread, sliced and toasted
Melt butter with oil in large pot over medium low heat. Add onions, cover with lid, and cook for 15 minutes.
Uncover the onions, raise the heat to medium, and add the sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir frequently and cook for 30-40 minutes. By then, the onions should all be a pretty golden brown color.
Stir in the flour and cook for 3 minutes.
Pour in hot broth and wine, stirring to combine. Partially cover the pot and let simmer for 30-40 minutes. Spoon soup into individual bowls, sprinkle on a layer of Fontina cheese, and serve with a toasted piece of bread.
An idea for the bread: Toast slices with a dusting of Parmesan and Fontina. Are you surprised I’m having trouble fitting into my Levi’s?