Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sunday, April 10th - Vegetarian Beer Onion Soup - Cheesy Comfort

Vegetarian Beer Onion Soup
It's been cold and rainy the last few days.  D had a sudden craving to make soup. We love soup on days like this.  It isn't unusual for usto have a simple, well somewhat simpler, Grill Cheese and Soup Dinner.  Though, admittedly, you we wouldn't be dining on tinned Tomato Soup and plastic slices of Cheeze on Wonderbread.  We normally stock a half dozen different yummo cheeses in the fridge.  I don't know how we ended up lately with three different Cheddars: Mild White, hearty Irish and Aged.  We decided to make something we both have not had for over a decade; myself in particular because French Onion Soup is made with Beef stock.  As a meat eating teen though, I used to adore going to Mr. Greenjeans in Toronto for an French Onion more Cheese than Soup, just the way a teen is likely to love it.  Now, it's all about the Onions and the Soup. MMMMM

This version is rounder and heartier than ones I've had based with Wine.  I think the Cheddar instead of Swiss helps with that as well.  You can use Sweet Onions if you want but it's not entirely necessary or the best use for expensive Sweet Onions. All you need is patience and if absolutely necessary, a pinch of sugar.

Vegetarian Onion Beer Soup

5  medium Onions, sliced (size of baseball, 1.5-2lbs)
3 T Unsalted Butter (if you use Salted, watch the seasoning later)
1 t Sugar (optional)
1 T Flour
1 bottle Lager or Pale Ale (like wine, don't cook with something you wouldn't drink)
2 sprigs fresh Thyme (1 t dry), chopped
1/2 t fresh Rosemary (1/2 t dry), chopped
1 T Dijon Mustard
4 c Veggie Broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Crusty Loaf or Baguette or the 'Bums' of a nice Multigrain sandwich Loaf works well
1/2 - 1/3 c shredded Cheddar or Emmenthal per serving
2 T of Parmesan per serving (Optional)

In a dutch oven (Creuset) or non-stick pan on Medium/Medium-High heat, melt the Butter.  Sautee the Onions for about 45 minutes until soft, ooey and carmel coloured. Do not do this over high heat where you will just crisp or burn the Onions.  Toss frequently with thongs or a wooden spoon.  If after 20-30 minutes you aren't seeing too much goldeness, you could add 1 t of Sugar.  But patience is rewarded and you really shouldn't need this and certainly don't add more than the 1 t.  Add the herbs when the Onions are nearly done. Add the Flour and cook through for a couple of minutes.

You should have your beer at room temperature but it's not the end of the world if you  pulled it from the fridge.  Add the Beer and turn up heat to High.  Keep stirring to avoid clumping.  Add the Veggie Broth. Bring to a boil for a minute to activate thickening. Reduce the heat to Medium-Low. Simmer for about 15 - 20 minutes. Taste and add more broth if the soup is too strong or thick for your taste.  Not all Onions are made the same.  Taste and season with Salt and Pepper.

Slice the bread or cut the loaf bums to fit snuggly in bowls you plan to use.  Use oven proof bowls.Toast them in your toaster or under the broiler.  You really do need to toast the bread or it will just dissolve to mush in the soup.

Turn your broiler on High with a rack a level down from the highest.

Ladle the soup in your bowls with about an inch space to the lip. Place the toasted Bread to cover the top.  Sprinkle with Cheese, be generous. Place the Bowls on a sturdy baking sheet and under the broiler until the cheese is melted and begins to brown.  Broilers are hot so keep an eye on it.  Do not wander away or multi-task.  Serve piping hot and gooing!  MMMMM


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