Pop on a beret and light up a Gitanes, because today we’re going to France, with a quick stop at Funkytown.
You’ll find French Onion Soup on page 39 of the PDF version of “Good and Cheap” (a free download at leannebrown.com) and page 25 of the print version.
I went with white onions and used beef broth. I also added the optional red wine. (My success with the “Good and Cheap” beef stroganoff recipe has made me a permanent convert to the idea of cooking with cheap reds.) I hit the jackpot and found a Naked Grape Malbec on sale for $6.99.
I also treated myself to a loaf of French bread and some Emmenthal for the cheese toast.
How Did it Taste?
Back in the very early 1980’s, one of my first adult jobs saw me working in the Capital Square building in downtown Edmonton. On the main floor was a restaurant called Hawkeye’s and they served a wonderful French Onion Soup. I spent many a lunch hour there, eating that soup and imagining myself to be quite sophisticated.
And why do I tell you all that? Because when I took the first taste of this soup, I instantly time-travelled back to those lunches in Hawkeye’s. It’s delicious. Before I knew it, I was shimmying around the kitchen, singing “Funkytown”. Merveilleuse!
Time and Money
Between the base of the soup and the toast, the prep work for this recipe took a grand total of 35 minutes. Yes, it takes time to caramelize the onions and simmer everything, but it’s so worth it. You can spend that time watching a movie* or really, whatever you like, as long as you come back every 20 minutes to stir. I should also add that this recipe leaves you with remarkably few dishes to clean up.
I made a half-recipe and the total cost was exactly $7.00, or $2.23 per serving.
*I actually did watch a movie while I was making this. It was Woody Allen’s “Shadows and Fog” — four stars from the Library Life Hack Test Kitchen.
Some Random Thoughts
When I was cooking, I stopped and pondered the history of French Onion Soup. Was it originally peasant food, inexpensive but hearty and tasty? I think it could have been. Onions would be cheap and plentiful in the French countryside, and you could add stale wine, stale bread and dried-out cheese and still come up with a winner.
Seriously, how inventive is that? It’s stuff like this that always makes me admire the culinary ingenuity of peasants. No wonder they’ve spent most of history kicking the butts of the lazy aristocracy.
That’s it for today. Next up is Lightly Curried Butternut Squash Soup. I dare you to try saying that five times really fast. Or in French.