15 December 2011

a caroling flashback

Back in the day, when I was in high school, I used to go caroling.  Yup, I was that awesome!  As the holidays (and winter break) approached and the weather got cold and frightful, me and a few girlfriends would get together, get all bundled up and go door to door singing all the classics.  Our harmonies definitely weren't great, none of us were even in choir anymore, and I'm pretty sure we only knew the words to a handful of songs.  But we had the holiday spirit in us, that's for sure.  And we always had a lot of fun, especially when people gave us cookies!  I also remember our after-caroling tradition of going to the restaurant at Five Corners (gosh, what was the name of that place?) and ordering hot, delicious crocks of French Onion soup.  All those brothy onions, toasty bread and melty cheese were the perfect way to wrap up such a festive occasion for a bunch of goofy teenage girls.

I didn't go caroling this year (yet,) but I did try my hand at the soup to put myself in a holly jolly mood.  Thanks to my gal Julia Child, the soup was delicious and I was tipsy (wine for the soup, wine for me!)  I subbed sweet Vidalia onions for her yellow onions and used a combination of Swiss and Gruyere on top of toasty Italian bread.  It was wonderful so, for those of you that aren't fortunate enough to own Mastering the Art of French Cooking, here is the recipe.  And if there's anyone out there who wants to have a bit of a caroling party with me, you know where to find me so please do!

soupe a l'oignon (a la Julia Child, adapted by me)
5 c thinly sliced Vidalia onions
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar (helps the onions brown)
3 tbsp flour
2 qts boiling beef stock
1/2 c dry white wine
salt & pepper to taste
3 tbsp cognac
rounds of hard-toasted whatever kind of bread
grated Swiss & Gruyere cheeses, lots of cheese
1. In a heavy-bottomed stock pot, cook the onions with the butter and oil, covered for about 15 minutes.  Uncover and bring the heat up to medium; stir in the salt and sugar.  Cook for 30 - 40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are evenly golden browned.  Sprinkle in the flour and continue stirring for about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
2. Stir in the boiling beef stock and add the wine.  Have a glass of wine, don't let it go to waste!  Season the soup with s&p to taste.  Simmer partially covered for about 30 minutes.
3. When ready to serve, after you've sung your little holiday heart out, ladle into a small crock lined with the toasted bread and top with shredded cheese.  Pop in the oven or toaster oven for a minute or two to get that yummy brown look. 

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