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Monday, September 26, 2005

Booze Hound

What do you do when you’ve got flat beer?

Make soup of course!

I’ve heard of recipes that use sherry or Guinness in French Onion soup. I have neither on me, but I do have a few bottles of Bass laying around (btw, my Steelers lost to the Patriots).

As I was writing this, one of the kittens was curious enough to knock over my bowl of soup. Now that’s a bowl and small plate that have met their fury.

My love for FOS has been a pretty recent event (seems like a lot of things I love are things I’ve resisted eating for years). I just couldn’t understand why people wanted a soup made just from onions; have a soggy piece of bread coated by mounds of cheese. The thought of it would make me gag.

Then, the epiphany. Where would I find inspiration to love the FOS? Panera, that’s what!

Yea… I bet there are snickers out there. Whatever. I love their Fandango salad and Baked Potato soup. And now their FOS. There isn’t a big glop of cheese, just a little shredded at the bottom. No soggy bread, but croutons on the side, making it easier for me to eat before the onset of sogginess!

After a great day of football watching, my stomach needed to be satisfied. I didn’t want to go and buy something, but I also didn’t want to make a big scale production for one meal. I needed to make something based on what I had in the pantry and within the time of a crappy television show (in this case, The War at Home). Luckily, I always keep stock on hand for the just in case’s. And I had also bought a lot of frozen onions (short cut I know, but I say no to crying over onions!) And of course, the left over bottle of Bass I failed to consume. Note: one container of Frontera salsa is not enough for a bag of chips!

Drunk Onion Soup
Serves 4-5

2 bags frozen chopped onions (or 4 large onions, thinly sliced)
1 32oz. container beef stock
1 8oz. can vegetable stock
2 bay leafs
2 pinches dried thyme
flat beer approx. 1 cup
pepper to taste
½ stick butter softened
2 tablespoons olive oil

shredded cheese, your choice

Heat up a large pot. Add olive oil and butter, and stir until the butter completely melts. Add onions and set on medium heat. Because they’re frozen, the water will start coming out. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You start to get beginning smells of FOS at this point. Now here’s the tough part (well, tough for me). To truly be like FOS, the onions have to caramelize. Rich dark brown, but not burnt! The liquid in the pot should be reducing, so from here on out, leave the pot uncovered. Being impatient as I am, I cranked the heat to high to speed up the browning, and then turned it quickly to low so not to get to the burning point.

I am a stirring fanatic. If it’s there, it must be stirred. Here, I really had to refrain myself – how will the onions possibly brown if I’m constantly stirring the pot. So at this point, when you’ve got your browning started, set at low and walk away. Let’s say 4 minutes. Just walk away. Talk to your roommates. Check out that crappy show, it might surprise you. Either way, put the spoon down and scram.

Check on the onions? Even brown color? Good. It’s your prerogative just how caramelized you want it to be. At the optimum caramelization, add the rest of the ingredients. Turn heat high until boiling, and then turn to low and let simmer for approx. 5 minutes.

To serve, I put a good handful of shredded cheese (the one I used was a leftover cheese from my pizza bagels) into the bowl, and carefully ladled the creamy goodness. Topped with croutons and voila!

Note: Best bet is to make your own croutons. The ones I had were store bought and NASTY.

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