Baby It's Cold Outside
The dawn of Fall. I may be entirely too premature but the changes are evident. You can witness it with the growing discontent in the weather. The winds pick up and bite back. The mornings begin with dew and a wake-up call your own alarm clock can't match. The summer foliage are changing colour, albeit slightly. And when you head out you reach for something warm. It's only late-August and I can see the beginning of the end.
Some people want to run and hide and begin their annual hibernation. Others want to grasp it and make friends with it. I, for one, love the Fall. I love it for all the new possibilities and the great flavours that come with it. We get to experience it all. Fall fruits and vegetables.The great root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and beets. A great flavour addition to roasted meats and stews. Apples and pumpkins and winter squash. It is prime season for garlic, fennel, rosemary, thyme, leeks, onions, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and so many incredible options.
I love nothing more than a reason to stand in the kitchen and cook up something hot and delicious. More than anything else in Fall, I love soups that jump with flavour and aroma. Two-potato bisque, corn chowder, minestrone, root vegetable and apple soup, potato and kale soup, soup of field mushrooms and my favourite, french onion soup.
Nothing comes to close to satisfying my cold-day cravings like a bowl of onion soup. I don't know if there's a better combination of flavours produced. The perfect amount of sweetness from the vidalia onions, the richness of beef broth, the creaminess of Gruyere and the strong pungency of thyme. Made together it creates a symphony of mouth-watering goodness.
I'm including my version of the French Onion Soup.
The Ultimate Onion Soup:
- 2 lbs. onions, peeled and sliced
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 c. unsalted butter
- olive oil
- 6 cups beef broth
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 baguette or ciabatta
- 6 oz. Gruyere, grated
Melt the butter in the thick-bottomed large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and salt & pepper and a good drizzle of olive oil. Cook until the onions are soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Turn up the heat slightly and colour the onions until a golden colour, continually stirring. This allows for a great depth of flavour. Turn down the heat and add the broth and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt & pepper.
Preheat the broiler. Pour the soup in the serving bowls and place on a baking sheet. Tear up a piece of the baguette and put the bread on top of each bowl. Drizzle with some good olive oil and put the grated Gruyere on top. Place the baking sheet in the oven and lightly toast the bread and melt the cheese. Serve with a sprig of thyme on the baguette for garnish.