A lot has been going on in my kitchen lately, but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to share it here. Last month there was a Wine and Food Expo in Des Moines that a friend and I attended. For a first year event the Des Moines Register did a good job, but I hope that it will grow in future years. I had a chance to see Jamie Gwen do a cooking demo and then got her to autograph a copy of her latest cookbook (there are some good looking recipes). I haven’t had much prior exposure to Jamie, but from what I saw she’s a great chef, entertainer, and advocate for how the home cook can improve their food.
While at the expo I had a chance to try a creamy French onion soup that was really quite good (made by a Des Moines restaurant, but I can’t find the card at the moment, I’ll update if I find it). There was a lot of wine and food to try, but it was that soup that grabbed my attention. I decided to try to recreate it at home and ended up using a roux-based onion soup with a strong hit of Calvados, cream, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Coming up I have a few recipes and a few local businesses to feature, so hopefully I’ll get several posts out during my break from school and vacation from work.
Creamy Onion Soup
2 lbs. sweet onions, thinly sliced (you want long pieces)
2 cloves garlic minced
4 Tbs butter
1/4 cup flour
2 liters stock (I used 1 each beef and chicken)
4 ounces calvados or apple brandy
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup cream
3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano finely grated
salt and pepper
Baguette toasts for serving*
Saute the onions in the butter over medium or medium low heat until dark brown and caramelized – this will take about 30 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about two minutes. Add the calvados and stir vigorously to deglaze the pan. Add the bay and thyme. When the liquid is evaporated add the flour by sprinkling over the top. Stir vigorously to mix the flour and fat as it cooks. You’re trying to create a light roux. You can add an extra tablespoon or two of butter if you have a hard time incorporating all the dry flour.
You’ll want the stock nearby because this can quickly start to burn and you want to add stock before it does. You should add the stock a little at a time because if you add too much at once it will be hard to mix it smoothly into the roux and you’ll end up with a broth and dumplings, when you want a creamy soup. After adding all the stock let simmer for about 5 minutes and then add the cream and cheese. Stir vigoursly and turn the heat down low. You want the Parmigiano-Reggiano to melt into the soup. This takes about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, remove the bay leaf, and serve.
* Get a good crusty baguette, slice on the bias, brush with olive oil and bake in a 400 F oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and toasted.