French Onion Soup

This soup is a winter staple in the Bubbly Kitchen. It is the perfect companion for a lunch time sandwich. It is also an ideal first course for dinner. It’s not heavy but the flavors are powerful. This intense flavor comes from your patience. You have to let the onions do their thing, don’t bother them too much. This recipe is really quite easy, but you have to devote time to developing these flavors. You should definitely get this soup started before you start baking a batch of holiday cookies. it requires very little attention and the leftovers freeze beautifully. I usually make twice the amount of caramelized onions. I store half and use them for other recipes, such as pizza, eggs en cocotte, or hamburgers. I often eat this soup by itself. But you could put a slice of crusty baguette and some shredded gruyere cheese on top of your bowl of soup and broil it. What to do with the bacon you cooked but don’t need? I hope you don’t need guidance on what to do with extra bacon, but you could put it on your sandwich or in the salad that you are eating with this soup. When you serve this as your soup course for a holiday dinner party you should open up a bottle of HALL Napa Valley Merlot 2009. This is definitely a full bodied merlot, made for cab lovers. The hint of smoke and rich berry flavors will leave you wanting more.

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French Onion Soup
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 pounds (about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
4 slices bacon
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp brown sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef stock (I like this one)
1/2 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground black pepper

Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until it is crispy and has rendered its fat. Reduce heat to low and add in the butter. Add the sliced onions, toss to coat them in oil. Cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and leave them alone for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid, raise the heat just slightly and mix in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, every 5 minutes I would say. Cook them for 45-50 minutes or until they have turned a deep golden brown. Make sure the heat is on low so you do not burn the onions while you are preparing other things.

When the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour. Stirring constantly, cook for 3 minutes. Add the wine, then add the stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Daube Provençal

We are having some cold days (as low as 55 degrees!) here in Eastern Carolina which means you will often be looking through enamel glasses into the bubbly kitchen’s cast iron pot. This is a traditional French beef stew made in a daubiere which serves a similar purpose to a dutch oven. It is usually made from inexpensive beef. The tougher cuts will be cooked in the oven for hours making them tender. The beef is braised in red wine with vegetables. This stew can be served by itself, with noodles, or over mashed potatoes. This is a fabulous version adapted from cooking light. You can throw these ingredients together in a quick 30 minutes, the stew then cooks in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. So on your next rainy day, I strongly encourage you to put this in the oven and open a bottle of red wine.

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As far as cooking with wine goes, I do believe in using good wine if you can afford to. For my Daube Provencal I used a Mondavi Napa Cabernet which is affordable and you wont mind finishing the bottle while the stew is in the oven, the recipe only requires 1 cup. You should pair this stew with an earthy red wine such as a Cabernet Franc. Cab Franc is a blending grape, often in Bordeaux. It is not usually the main grape in a wine, but when it is the forward grape, it is unique and wonderful. Girard makes a fabulous and affordable Cabernet Franc. This is a very spicy and rustic red wine. Many of the wineries in Napa produce pure Cab Francs as special, maybe single vineyard, wines. During my trip to Napa, Cab Franc was by far my husband and I’s favorite atypical wine.

Daube Provencal

2 tsp olive oil
10 garlic cloves, smashed
2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into one inch cubes
1 tsp salt (plus extra for meat)
1/2 tsp black pepper (plus extra for meat)
1 cup red wine
2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
1/2 tbsp thyme
Dash of ground cloves
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over low and add the garlic to the pan. Cook the garlic for 3-5 minutes or until it is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove the garlic and set aside. Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper, be generous. Over medium-high heat, saute the beef for 5 minutes or until browned on all surfaces. Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Scrape up all the brown bits stuck to the pain. Add in the garlic, beef, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper, carrots, onions, beef both, tomato paste, herbs, and tomatoes. Bring this to a boil.

Cover and bake in the oven at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the bay leaf. Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Adapted from Cooking Light.

Chicken pot pie soup

I don’t know what screams “comfort!” more than chicken pot pie. This soup comes together in no time and has the power to turn around a cold winter day. There are literally only two steps in this recipe. It also freezes beautifully and is easily taken to work for lunch. You will be doubling and tripling this soup recipe after you make it the first time. This is a little healthier than the traditional thick and creamy chicken pot pie filling. I calculated this at approximately 350 calories for a generous serving, which is amazing considering how wonderful it is. You can really add whatever kind of dairy you like. If you want it to be even healthier use all skim milk, it may be a bit thinner though. If you want a heartier soup then use all half and half. You could probably use coconut milk or some other non-milk product if you want to be super hipster about it.

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Chicken Pot Pie Soup

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into half in cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup half and half
1 cup skim milk
1.5 lbs (3-4) yukon gold potatoes chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat olive oil and butter. Stir in the onions, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add in the flour, stirring to coat all the vegetables. Cook for 3-5 minutes more. It should be slightly golden in color.

Mix in the potatoes, chicken stock, and half and half. Allow this to come to a boil. Decrease heat to medium-low, add in the chicken, peas, and corn. Cover with lid, simmer for 10 – 15 minutes more. Add more salt if needed.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.