Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dinner for One: French Onion Soup

What do you do when you're a single university student with a limited budget and leftover beef stock?  You make a single serving of french onion soup, of course!

When I got this idea the other day, I was both excited and nervous.  All of the recipes for french onion soup which I knew were for serving 6-8 people, and I'm definitely not 6-8 people, nor did I want to deal with storing leftovers.  So I went over to ASDA, picked up some onions, stock, garlic powder and wine, and I'm cooking my bowl of soup as we speak.  I figure waiting for it to finish is the perfect time to tell other people how to BS their dinner!

  • 1 onion
  • beef or vegetable stock (if you have a pint, you have more than enough)
  • red wine (I bought mine in a single-serving bottle; I used merlot because it was what was available)
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • bread
  • parmesan cheese
  • garlic powder (known in the UK as "garlic granules")
  • coarse sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
How to Do Stuff!
  1. Put some butter and olive oil in a little (and I mean little) pot.  I can't tell you how much*, you just want enough that when the butter melts, all of the fat together covers the bottom of the pot and there's enough to cover the onion which will be addressed...
  2. Not yet.  Put a pinch of garlic powder in the fat.  It's okay if the butter turns a bit brown, just don't burn it.
  3. Turn your solid onion into bite-sized pieces.  I don't care what shape those pieces are.  My onion was unusually slippery so it wasn't a graceful process.  Just cut up your onion till you're happy.
  4. Add your onion to your little pot and stir it around until all of the pieces are coated in the fat.  Grind in some black pepper and stir that in.  Let the onion cook for a while..  I'm not going to give you an exact time (because I don't know).  All I can say is cook until the smell makes you feel happy inside and the onions have decreased in volume.
  5. Add beef stock and wine till your onion bits are swimming.  Exact amounts are up to you.  Bring the soup to a simmer and then back the heat down so that the soup doesn't get out of hand but it's still bubbling.
  6. Let the soup cook.  Add salt to taste.  You'll need to adjust the seasoning and add more liquid every once in a while, because this is going to take some time.  You want to let the soup cook and cook until the onions are nice and soft, and when you decide the soup is done.  As the soup cooks and the water evaporates, the flavors get more intense and the soup gets thicker.  Add liquid if the level gets too low or you want to adjust the taste (adding more wine if you want to sweeten it, for instance).
  7. When the soup is almost cooked to your liking, toast a slice of bread and break it up into bite-size chunks, keeping in mind that they'll soak up the soup and expand like crazy.  Set the bread aside.
  8. When the soup is finished, pour it into a bowl, stir in the chunks of bread, and grate some parmesan cheese on top.
SOUP FOR YOU!  Dig in!

Variations suggested by my flatmates: Use less liquid and use the cooked onions to top a steak or mashed potatoes

Let me know if you want me to do more of these.  I like cooking, I like not letting things go to waste, and this has been an exciting experiment.

*Just remember that there's no such thing as too much butter.  Let Alton Brown tell you how awesome butter is.

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