Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Lesson in French.

I am a huge fan of French Onion soup, especially on a cold, rainy day. I love the sweet taste of caramelized onions paired with a savory broth and how the cheese melts so perfectly over a crusty piece of French bread.  This simple soup can surely be a meal in itself!  The one thing I do not like about it is how expensive it is to order out.  I mean, 5-7$ for a bowl of soup is a big investment.  So I took it upon myself to make a batch and I swear it was better than any restaurant's!  AND I'll let you in on a little secret... It is super easy to make and costs next to nothing!  I admit you might shed a few tears from chopping onions, but it will all be worth it when you taste your creation.
         Nutrition tip: When you order French onion soup out, most recipes include lots of butter and cheese that add extra calories and tons of sodium.  When you make it at home, you can adjust recipes to maximize the nutrition and it will taste just as good.

So a bit of history (for those who care).
     Onion soups have been around since the Roman times, but recently have gained popularity since the 1960s when French cuisine became popular in the United States.  In the past it was considered a dish for the poor because onions and beef broth are low cost items.  Again, I don't understand how restaurants charge an arm and a leg for it now.  Traditionally it was made with croutons and Gruyère cheese and placed under the broiler in a ramiken.

French Onion Soup Recipe
Serves 4
Total time: 40 minutes
         - 2 Large Vidalia onions
Beef Base (Reduced Sodium)
         - 1 Tbsp of Olive oil (or butter)
         - 1 Tbsp of flour
         - 4 cups of beef stock*
         - 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
         - 1 clove of garlic, chopped
         - 1 Tbsp of dried bay leaves, crushed
         - Pepper, to taste
         - 4 slices of Swiss or Gruyère cheese
         - 4 slices of French Bread

4 Ramikens or bowls

Slice onions very thinly. Heat olive oil or butter in a large saucepot.
Add onions to saucepot and allow to caramelize for about 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  Add the beef broth, white wine, garlic, bay leaves, and pepper.  Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Take broth off the stove and divide into 4 Ramikens.  Place 1 slice of French Bread over the broth and top with a slice of swiss or Gruyère cheese.  Place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown.  Serve with a side salad to complete the meal!

* I used "Better Than Bouillion" because it is cheaper in the long run and takes up less space than stock!  Use 1 Tbsp per 4 cups and it comes out great.  Try buying the reduced sodium to cut down on extra salt.

Estimated Cost of Recipe: $1.25 per serving
Nutrition Facts:
~250 kcals, 8 g protein, 12 g Carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 140 g Sodium

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