Tuesday, December 2, 2008

French Onion Soup and chicken/lentils/sausage

I got this idea that I was going to make onion soup--I really enjoy it, and I only ever have it when it's a big production with the Gruyere and the crouton and whatnot, and while that's fine, I realized I've never made it simply because I don't want to deal with all that. So fine, forget all the accoutrements--let's make onion soup.

I based it on Alton Brown's onion soup recipe, with some notable changes--first, I used around 32 oz of each type of liquid, not 10z, wanting to make a huge tank so I could bring it for lunch this week and still be able to freeze a bunch. I also had to make some sleazy "I don't have that" substitutions--dried thyme and bay leaves instead of a bouquet of fresh herbs, beef broth instead of beef consomme, shitty generic "apple cider" (which tasted like apple juice) instead of cloudy Lyman Orchards awesome cider...

I used my mandoline to slice an enormous bowlful of Vidalias and then spent the next HOUR browning them sufficiently. Once that was done, the soup itself was easy and fast. I transferred it from my Dutch oven to my stockpot after deglazing so I could add even more liquid (and make more soup!).

It was quite delicious, but arguably too sweet--next time I'll add about half the apple cider and maybe use some red onions mixed with the Vidalias. (I also think the sweetness was enhanced by the fact that it didn't have the cheese or bread in it cutting the sugaryness).

Needing a quick and easy main dish that didn't clash with bread+soup, I determined I wanted to use up the chicken breasts I had in the fridge, and also somehow make use of a mirepoix (I had just bought a bunch of carrots and celery). I browned some hot sausage in my Dutch oven and then browned chunks of chicken breast (sprinkled with paprika and za'atar) in the fat + some olive oil. Removing the meat, I threw in the mirepoix and sauteed til translucent; then I stirred in a bunch of French green lentils, added garlic and chicken broth, returned the meat to the pot, brought to a simmer, and let cook until the lentils and meat were done. It was pretty good for an off-the-cuff meal!

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