This simple adaptation of the classic French onion soup is a meal in itself—perfect for lunch or dinner. If you’ve got a free afternoon, making your own rich beef stock is a slow-food pleasure, but a store-bought brand will still deliver rich taste. Take the time to fully caramelize the onions at the start of this recipe—that’s where most of the active cooking time is needed and where the deep flavor develops. You’ll be well rewarded for the effort. This recipe is for a very large batch, enough for two or three meals, depending on how many people you’re serving. For the melted cheese topping, this twist on bread rounds is fun and easier to eat with a spoon!
For the soup:
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 5 pounds yellow onions, peeled and sliced into roughly ½” rounds
- Coarse salt
- 1/2 cup cognac
- 8 cups beef stock
- 1 cup dry vermouth
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the croutons:
- 10 baguette slices, about ½” thick, cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
Caramelize the onions: Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Note: Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to work in batches or use two skillets at once. Add one tablespoon of the oil for every pound of onions you sauté at a time. As you place the onions in the pan, separate each slice into rounds. Toss the onions in the oil and then cover the pan to sweat the onions for about 10 minutes over low-medium heat, taking care not to burn them. Take off the cover, sprinkle the onions with large pinches of salt and sugar, and continue cooking until they become soft and browned, up to 50 minutes (the liquid in the pan will evaporate; add a tablespoon of water as needed to prevent burning). At the end of the cooking time, add the cognac to deglaze the pan and then transfer everything to a large stockpot.
To finish the soup: Add the beef stock and vermouth to the stockpot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for another hour. Taste and add black pepper, if desired.
For the croutons: Just before serving the soup, turn on your oven to broil. Spread out the bread cubes on a cookie sheet and toast under the broiler, watching closely, as it should take only a few seconds. Very carefully, take the sheet out of the oven and use tongs to push the toasted croutons together. Sprinkle on the grated cheese and put back under the broiler until the cheese melts, again for only a few seconds.
To serve, ladle soup into bowls or wide mugs and, using tongs, top each with some cheesy croutons.
Yields 10-12 servings
Especially popular in the Andalucían city of Seville, this dish can be served as a tapa, a light meal, or a satisfying side dish. Bagged baby spinach is usually sold washed. If your spinach is garden-fresh, rinse it well and drain itbefore adding to the chickpeas.
- 1 cup jarred or canned chickpeas, drained
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 Spanish onion, peeled and diced
- 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup tomato purée
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups tightly packed baby spinach
Rinse the chickpeas under cold running water and drain. Set aside.
Heat a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and stir in the garlic and onions. Cook until the onions and garlic are softened and golden brown. Season with the paprika and cumin. Stir in the tomato purée. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the spinach and cover the pan. Let the mixture cook for
2 minutes. Remove the lid and add the chickpeas. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper, if desired. Continue to cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a shallow bowl and drizzle with additional olive oil before serving.
Serves 2 — Recipe adapted from spainonafork.com
This is a popular item at restaurants and the soup station at supermarkets, yet so often tastes gummy. My recipe is chunky and creamy at the same time, thanks to a simple roux technique and not over-blending.
- 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
- 1 large sweet onion, about 12 ounces, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Coarse salt
- 2 pounds broccoli, trimmed and cut into small florets (slice stems into discs)
- 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 cups milk
- 10 ounces sharp or very sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat. When hot, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the onions, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt to help the onions sweat. Sauté until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook until it turns a brighter green, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Use a large slotted spoon to transfer all the veggies to a large bowl next to your cooktop.
Add the rest of the olive oil to the pot along with the flour and stir vigorously for 2 minutes to make a roux and cook the flour. Whisk in the broth, a half-cup at a time, letting the mixture come to a boil before adding the next half-cup. Repeat the technique with the milk and then stir in 8 ounces of the cheese. When smooth, add back in the vegetables. Continue to cook, partly covered, at a low simmer for 30 minutes or until the broccoli is tender. Stir occasionally to make sure all the broccoli gets submerged.
Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a standard blender, blend the soup, stopping short of a full purée. Taste and season as desired with salt and pepper. Garnish servings with the rest of the grated cheddar and a drizzle of olive oil.
Yields 8 to 10 servings
This soup is hearty enough for a meal—just add salad and crusty bread. It’s equally delicious made with Hubbard squash when you can find it! You can also get creative with toppings—a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of pomegranate arils, and perhaps roasted and chopped nuts.
- One 2-pound butternut squash
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, trimmed and sliced
- 1 apple, such as Macoun or Gala, cut into chunks
- 3 scallions, trimmed and sliced
- 2 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium, more as needed
- 2 tablespoons sherry
- 1 cup milk
- ½ teaspoon curry powder (optional)
- Freshly ground white pepper
Yields 4 servings
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Slice the squash lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds (you may roast them separately for a crunchy snack). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle it with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Place the squash halves, cut side down, on the parchment and roast for one hour or until a knife tip easily pierces the flesh. Let the squash cool while you continue with the recipe.
Heat a large skillet until hot—a few drops of water sprinkled on the pan will sizzle when it’s ready. Add the rest of the olive oil, the onions, carrots, apple, and scallions; slow-cook until soft but not browned. Add the sherry and cook for another 10 minutes.
Peel the skin from the squash and cut the squash into chunks. Working in batches as needed, place the squash, the other cooked ingredients, and the broth in a blender and process until smooth. Transfer the soup to a large saucepan and heat through before serving. Season with the curry powder, if desired, and a few pinches of pepper.