Monday, January 5, 2015

French Onion Soup with Optional Meatballs

Here's another ingenious Kitchen Treaty One Meal, Two Ways recipe.  It's a delicious French onion soup, full of caramelized onions and bursting with onion flavor, that is split in half; half remains vegetarian, and to the other half, you add mini meatballs.  Then everyone is happy!  The carnivores can slurp their soup and chomp on their meatballs, and we vegetarians can happily enjoy the flavor of onions cooked in garlic and thyme.  And let's not forget the bread with melted gruyere and mozzarella.  Now that is a step not to be skipped.  The bread soaks up the broth and the cheese is just a heavenly addition to this soup.

Key word: optional meatballs.  If you want to stick vegetarian, do it!  I sincerely think both Kenzie and Mark are vegetarian and just won't admit it yet :)

I actually made this one night at my mother's house when Mark was working.  It almost felt like the old times, cooking in my first kitchen :) The only downside is that then I feel bad taking my leftovers home, and I am a big fan of bringing leftovers to work.

Speaking of leftovers, today was our first day back at work after Christmas break, which meant I'm back in the swing of packing lunches.  I am debating what I can pack for Mark, because he is notorious for losing our Tupperware.  Or, and this might be even worse, he leaves them in his classroom for weeks and then brings home mold-filled, gag-enducing sludge.  He is so busy at work that there are many days when he doesn't get to eat lunch, so I can't demand that he bring home his containers every day.  What do you do to make sure your husband (or children!) don't lose your Tupperware?


French onion soup with optional meatballs
from Kitchen Treaty
serves 3 vegetarians and 3 carnivores!

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 - 5 yellow onions, sliced (about 7 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 heaping teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
8 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
fresh ground black pepper
4 - 6 1-inch thick slices French bread
butter for bread
1 1/2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
if you're making the meatballs:
2 cups vegetable or beef broth
1/2 pound ground beef, 90% lean
1/4 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste


1) In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the olive oil.  Add the onions and cook for about 30 - 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very soft, medium brown and caramelized.  Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the cooking to help the onions cook down.

2) Stir in the garlic and dried thyme  Cook for about two minutes.  Stir in the flour.  Cook for another minute or so.

3) Add the vegetable broth, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about an hour.  Continue to summer over low heat while preparing the meaty half of the soup.  Skip to skip 7 if you're not making the meaty half.

4) Meanwhile, make the meatballs.  In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix together the ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper until all ingredients are well-incorporated.  Scoop out tablespoonfuls, roll into balls, and set aside.

5) After the soup has cooked for an hour, into another large saucepan over medium heat, transfer two cups of the soup plus another 1/2 cup or so of the onions with a slotted spoon.  Add the two additional cups of broth (either beef or more veggie).  Bring to a boil, then simmer.

6) Carefully drop the meatballs into the meaty soup and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes until cooked through.

7) Butter the French bread on both sides and place on a cookie sheet.  Broil on high heat until golden brown; turn over and brown the other side.  Remove from the oven, but keep the broiler on.

8) Ladle the vegetarian soup into three oven-proof bowls, and ladle the meaty soup into three bowls as well.  Place on piece of French bread on top of each bowl of soup, then sprinkle each with 1/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup gruyere.  Carefully place the bowls on a cookie sheet and broil on high until the cheese is melted and bubble, then serve.

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