Catching up again…Weeks 12 and 13: French Onion Soup and Sausage, Lentil, and Kale Soup

soup

Note: I wrote this post several weeks ago, but only just now got around to adding the pictures.  Hopefully I can get the next post written sooner than later!

I can now officially add Wegman’s to the list of places I should not be allowed to go on my own.  Target and Sam’s Club are already on the list.

This week I’m making a lobster bisque from some frozen lobster tails I picked up a couple weeks ago.  They’ve been sitting in my freezer waiting for me to get around to locating and purchasing lobster stock.  Since I have a kid-free day off of work (hardly ever happens, let me tell ya!) I decided to make the 45 minute drive out to the place that I was almost sure would carry it.  Turns out they carry lobster juice from Bar Harbor, but since I was able to find a bisque recipe using that, I went with it.

In addition to my lobster juice, I found Enoki mushrooms in their produce section.  I have a long and sordid relationship with these mushrooms.  Ok, so that’s a little over-dramatic.  But I have spent years looking for a place that sells these mushrooms.  A friend of mine used them in a Japanese dish he made me once and I’ve loved them ever since, which is saying something since I grew up as a mushroom hater.  I have literally had dreams about being able to find these mushrooms.  The only place I have ever seen them before is at World Market, but since the closest one I know if is in south DC, I’m not going to be making the trek to find them whenever the craving hits.  Truth be told, the Wegman’s I went to isn’t exactly around the corner, but at least it’s within my state!

I could go on about the amazing food I bought today, but I’m getting off topic.  The lobster bisque is a soup for another post, since I’m very far behind on posting my soups to date.  Last time there was a big lag between posts, I fell behind on posting but not on making the soup.  This time, that’s not the case.  I’m a full 5 weeks behind on soups as of today.  But tonight I’m making 3 different soups for dinner, and I’ve got the other 2 planned for the near future.

But today’s post is about weeks 12 and 13, which were French Onion Soup and another stab at Sausage, Lentil, and Kale soup (following the recipe this time).

First up is French Onion Soup, pinned from the blog Good Dinner Mom.  I had quite a few problems with this soup, but I’m mostly chalking it up to user error.

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The caramelizing method is hours in cast iron pot in a hot oven.  I think my oven was too hot, or I vented my pot too much in the later phase, because my onions definitely burned.  Not terribly, but enough that it was noticeable.

My second issue was with the cheese.  I’m a big fan of the layer of melty, glued to the bowl cheese that you get in restaurants when you order french onion soup.  And my cheese just did NOT do that.  First I tried doing slices, but they were too thick and just turned into hot, crusty chunks of cheese.  Then I tried shredding instead, and that didn’t turn out any better.  I just don’t think Gruyere is the way to go with this soup, at least not for me.

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I have every intention of making this soup again, since I know I can make it better.  I’ll watch my onions more closely next time, perhaps vent the pot a little less, and I’m definitely going with round slices of provolone cheese.  Mmmmm the melty goodness.

I’ve already made a Sausage, Lentil, and Kale soup this year (I wanna say week 3 maybe?) but I had smoked sausage in my brain when I planned to make it, and I decided to go with smoked sausage despite what the recipe called for.  This time, I decided to follow the recipe and use ground sausage.  I pinned the recipe from Martha Stewart.

This soup is pretty simple.  Broth, some veggies, a bit of meat, and some lentils is basically the whole recipe.  And there’s nothing wrong with simple.  In fact, this soup is delicious because of its simple, fresh flavors.  I’ve disliked dishes that use kale that’s not cooked to death in the past, but it really worked with this recipe.

Only two more soups to post about, then the three soups from dinner tonight, then two more catch up soups.  Then I’m back on track!  But I reserve the right to be a slacker and fall behind again, simply because I know myself and that’s the kind of person I am (though I prefer to use the term easy-going).


French Onion Soup (with my cheese change)

Note: the original poster goes into great detail about why the crust aka fond is important for the flavor of this soup.  You should check out the original recipe as well, linked above.

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 4 hours
Serves: 6

Ingredients

3 T unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
6 large yellow onions (abt. 4 lbs), julienned
2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
1/2 cup dry sherry
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied in a bundle
1 bay leaf
1/2 t salt
Pepper to taste
1 small baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
Sliced provolone cheese

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray the inside of a dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray, adding butter, onions, and 1 t salt.
  3. Cook uncovered for 1 hour.  Onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume.
  4. Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot.
  5. Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1.5 to 2 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides after 1 hour.
  6. Remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat (reduce to medium if onions cook too quickly).
  7. Cook onions, stirring and scraping frequently, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, about 15 to 20 minutes, then continue to cook until pot bottom is coated with dark crust.
  8. Stir in 1/4 cup of water, scraping the bottom to loosen the crust, and cook until water evaporates, forming another dark crust.
  9. Repeat deglazing process 2 or 3 more times until onions are very dark.
  10. Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates.
  11. Stir in the chicken and beef broths, 2 cups of water, thyme bundle, bay leaf, and 1/2 t salt, scraping any final bits of crust.
  12. Increase heat to high and just barely bring to a boil.
  13. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  14. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.
  15. While the soup simmers, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on baking sheet and bake in 400 degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes.
  16. To serve, fill broiler-safe crocks with soup.  Top each with 1-2 baguette slices, then a layer of provolone cheese.  Broil until cheese is melted and slightly browned.  Let cool for a few minutes before serving, as the crock will be very hot.

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Sausage, Kale, and Lentil Soup

Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Serves: 6

Ingredients

2 t extra virgin olive oil
8 oz sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup dried lentils, rinsed
6 cups chicken broth
1 bunch (about 1/2 lb) Kale, stems removed, torn into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
2 t red wine vinegar

Directions

  1. In large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon (though I personally use my Pampered Chef Mix-n-chop) until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add celery and onion, cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add lentils, broth, and 1/2 cup of water, and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to a rapid simmer, partially cover, and cook until lentils and vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.
  6. Add kale and season with salt.
  7. Return soup to a rapid simmer, cover, and cook until kale wilts, about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove soup from heat, stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
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