Classic French Onion Soup

Classic French Onion Soup

Photo by Cristina Gonzalez

What a Classic to finish off soup season, French onion soup. This was actually the first soup I ever cooked when I started my culinary endeavors, long, long time ago, when I had to rely on what my mum had lying around to produce my clumsy attempts in the kitchen; My early recipes were easy to make, with honest uncomplicated ingredients my mum had in her pantry. So that is how I came across this magnificent soup.

Do you know the expression “Chicken soup for the soul”? I reckon it should definitely be changed to “Onion soup for the soul”. Chicken soup, yes, nice… but I always find it lacking a bit of oomph… on the other hand, its vegetarian counterpart, the ever so humble onion soup is the ultimate comfort in every mouthful.

I have this thing I try to follow, I am determined to do every day something that either brings me a smile or makes me feel super-good, just so every day counts; let’s say the day has gone terribly wrong, and I have no idea how to fix it, not a smile, not a single thing has happened that has managed to lift my soul; not to worry, there is one thing I still can do that never fails… onion soup, a bowl of this liquid gold later, and my soul is purring, honestly.

Should you ever be in need of a little pat in the somewhat wounded soul, follow my advice… and prepare a good pot of steamy onion soup!

Classic French Onion Soup

Photo by Cristina Gonzalez

Classic French Onion Soup

Yield: 4 - 6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 medium brown onion (800g - 1+1/2lb) thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1 thyme spring
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 7 cups (1750 ml) beef stock (or chicken/vegetable stock)
  • 2 tablespoons sherry (or Port)
  • Cheese toasts
  • 8 baguette slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 cup grated cheese (Edam, Cheddar, Mozzarella... or a mixture of two)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Melt butter with the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat; cook onion covered, for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for another 20 minutes; add garlic, thyme, bay leaf & peppercorns in the last 5 minutes
  2. Add white wine, stir to combine and let evaporate for a few minutes
  3. Add flour, cook for one more minute stirring constantly
  4. Stir in stock, bring to the boil. Lower heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Add sherry and shimmer a further 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf & thyme spring
  5. Meanwhile, lightly toast baguette slices. Rub one side with the cut part of the garlic clove, top with cheese and thyme and season with pepper. Place toasts on an oven tray and cook under the grill for 1 - 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden
  6. Serve soup in warmed bowls with the cheese toasts
http://www.danceofsaucepans.com/classic-french-onion-soup/

Seafood Chowder with Garlic Toasts

Seafood Chowder with Garlic Toasts

Photo by Cristina Gonzalez

The trick to a good chowder is to get it thick and creamy, that is what I look for in a chowder, a watery one just won’t do… but at the same time I don’t want to load it with a pint of double cream… so I have set to come up with a satisfying nutritious seafood chowder but without the guilt factor written all over it! For a change of pace, I have added some Spanish paprika instead of bacon, I really wanted the fresh seafood flavours to shine, and they definitely have the spotlight in this chowder!

Seafood Chowder

Photo by Cristina Gonzalez

If you are in a hurry to get this chowder on the table, you can bypass the first two steps and use 700g (91.5 lb) of prepared marinara mix (Countdown sells a decent mix from behind the counter in the fish department) and a good quality fish stock… but I won’t be able to guarantee the same awesomeness!

You can’t miss the garlic toasts; is the Spanish version of the good old garlic bread; simply toast bread, rub it with garlic and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil, uncomplicated and absolutely delicious.

 

Seafood Chowder with Garlic Toasts

Photo by Cristina Gonzalez

And well, I am delighted to report that I have accomplished my mission, and the most soul-warming, nourishing good-for-you dinner is served…

Seafood Chowder with Garlic Toasts

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 12 big whole raw prawns
  • 16 fresh mussels, scrubbed & beards pulled out
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 large leek (white/light green part sliced & well rinsed)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 300ml (10 oz) milk, warmed (I used Light - 98.5% fat free milk)
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 medium potato, peeled & cubed
  • 1 cup small cauliflower florets
  • 250g (8 oz) fresh salmon, skin & bones removed, cut in 2.5cm (1in) cubes
  • 250g (8 oz) firm white fish fillets (I used monkfish) cut in 2.5cm (1in) cubes
  • 150g (5oz) squid hoods, cut into rings
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • lemon wedges to serve
  • Garlic Toast
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, cut in half
  • extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Peel prawns and pull the dark vein from each back (check garlic prawns) and reserve. Simmer prawn shells in 1+1/2 cups of salted water for 20 minutes. Strain liquid and reserve. Discard shells
  2. Rinse mussels well; discard any broken ones or mussels that don't close tightly when tapped. Place mussels, white wine & water in a medium pan over high heat; cook covered for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until mussels have opened. Discard any unopened ones. Strain liquid & reserve with prawn stock. Keep warm. Get mussels out of the shells and chop finely; set aside (you can reserve 4 mussels with their shells for decoration if you want)
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, cook onion and leek until soft and beginning to turn golden. Take pan off the heat, add paprika and bay leaf. Return to the heat, add flour; cook stirring for 1 or 2 minutes. Add slowly, 650ml (2+1/2 cups) of the warm reserved prawn and mussel stock combined, stirring constantly. Stir in warmed milk, bring mixture to the boil
  4. Reduce heat, add carrot, potato and cauliflower; simmer until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add white fish, salmon, prawns, calamari & chopped mussels. Cook for a couple of minutes. Take chowder off the heat; stir in cream & parsley
  5. Serve with lemon wedges and garlic toasts
  6. Garlic Toasts
  7. Spread bread slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Toast under the grill for a minute or two on each side or until golden (keep a close eye as they can burn easily) Rub toasts with the cut part of the garlic. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil
http://www.danceofsaucepans.com/seafood-chowder-garlic-toasts/