Hello, lake effect snow storms and 18 degree highs… how I’ve missed you …. NOT. I guess I can’t complain though, we are normally a few months deep by now in snow and we’ve only gotten a handful of storms so far this year. We actually took the dogs for a walk Saturday AND Sunday this weekend because it was in the 50s. Which, for North West PA, is kind of crazy for January! So, I’ll take it. Plus, colder weather means an excuse to eat as much soup as possible. Which, I am always on board with. You know I love soup. I really hope you guys do too. This french onion soup is the perfect thing to warm up on a cold day. Loaded with 4 types of onions, red wine, and gooey cheese. This is the perfect treat when you deserve something fancy for dinner.
So, I want to throw this idea out there for y’all. I am working on making up some weekly budget menus. Two people, fifty dollars a week, healthy & home cooked meals. What do you guys think? Is $50 a good weekly grocery budget? Should it be less/more? I normally try to keep our weekly menu to around $50, but I could easily go over if I tried. (and sometimes I accidentally do and then I cry a little at check out). I guess that is part of the territory with food blogging sometimes. But, I want to give you all some options for eating healthy on a budget because I know most of us are pretty tight on cash and don’t want to break the bank on food. I am going to be doing it with you guys too. I am planning on buying the menu for the week at my local grocery store, and making that food for the week. If it all works out for the week, I will share that menu with you guys! I know one of my problems will be using stuff from the freezer/canned section of our house. I go crazy in the summer gardening/pick your own/farmers market to preserve as much of the local harvest as I can. Then I use it all up in the winter. It keeps food bills lower in the winter, and helps me eating fresh and natural all year. I am thinking though, that I won’t take that into account and I will still add up the prices for those ingredients. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated in the comments below!
Okay, now back to my yummy in the tummy french onion soup!!! We love love love french onion soup. It reminds me of one of my jobs in high school. I worked as a table busser at this historic restaurant on main street in our little hometown. This restaurant, by the way, used to be a hotel as well and was considered by a lot of people to be haunted. Let me tell you, I don’t know if it was or not, but it was SO creepy to go into the old hotel part of the restaurant. Nothing has changed in it since it shut down like 50 years ago. I mean nothing … beds still made and everything. If you were up there late at night by yourself you instantly got creeped out. Anyways, that job was the first place I ever had french onion soup! I had never even heard about it before then but it was one of the restaurant specialties. Everyone there ranted and raved about it, so I thought I would give it a try. Oh my gosh. Instantly addicted. I would eat that on my breaks ALL the time. Yum yum yum. All the onions, the gooey oozy cheese, the delicious beefy broth, thyme leaves, toasted baguette. It just tasted so rich and decadent.
This recipe is my very own attempt to replicate this recipe. I have tried all sorts of onion combos, wine amounts, cheeses, types of broth, herbs, etc. etc. etc. But I have finally landed with this version and I needed to share it with you. I know, I know. Butter, yes. Cheese, yes. Bread products, yes. Don’t care. It is worth it. And, I’ve told you before I don’t have any problem with REAL butter and REAL cheese. Just check your ingredients. You’ve got it. If you aren’t a butter fan, I am sure you could sub olive oil. But, I am a fan of going for the butter. And the cheese. Just go for the whole experience. We only make this soup a couple of times a year, so I am fully okay with it and you should be too.
For this recipe, I use 4 types of onions! Spanish, red, yellow, and sweet. Why? Because why the heck not?! Heck, if you want to throw in some white onions too, more power to you. And shallots would be awesome also, I am just too lazy to sit there and peel them. Too small. Just don’t add green onions … I tried that on one of my attempts and it was pretty nasty. Oh, I forgot to mention the best part. The wine!!!! This recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups red wine. You should use a dry red wine. I normally use a merlot, shiraz, or cabernet sauvignon. Lately I have been using our cabernet sauvignon blend that we made ourselves!!! (okay, okay, it was from a kit so it wasn’t 100% us. But we still basically made our own wine and it is darn good) You don’t have to get a real expensive bottle of wine for the soup, but I normally get something I would like to drink for 2 reasons 1) the wine flavor really does come out in the soup 2) you are going to have half a bottle leftover that you are going to need to drink with dinner. Number 2 is the real bonus if you ask me! I normally get a 6 ish dollar bottle or something on a good sale.
- 3 red onions, peeled and sliced
- 3 spanish onions, peeled and sliced
- 2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced
- 2 sweet onions, peeled and sliced
- 1 stick butter
- 5-6 thyme sprigs
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1½ cups dry red wine (cabernet sauvignon, merlot, shiraz, etc.)
- 3 tablespoons flour (whole wheat or white works fine)
- 2-3 quarts beef broth (I normally use around 2 and a half)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 whole wheat baguette, sliced and toasted
- 1 slice provolone cheese per bowl (about 10 total)
- In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat.
- Add onions, thyme sprigs, garlic, and bay leaves. Cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes. Stirring often. You want to get a deep caramelization on the onions to get the best flavor out of them. Don't rush this part even though it takes a while.
- Add the wine and cook for about 10 minutes. Most of the wine will be evaporated/cooked into the onions when you are done with this step.
- Add the flour over medium low heat. Stirring frequently to prevent burning. Cook for about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the beef broth, depending on how thick/thin you want the soup. I normally like it around 2 and a half quarts. Bring to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
- Add the salt and pepper, to taste, and remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs before serving.
- Serve the soup into your soup bowl, put in your toasted baguettes, lay the slice of cheese on top of the baguette. Either microwave the soup for 30 seconds to melt the cheese, or heat it in the broiler (if you bowl is broiler safe) until cheese is brown and bubbly (about 2 minutes).