We had invited a group of friends over to taste apples and cheese. While that combination could be filling, I wanted to make sure that we had something of a complete meal when all was said in done, so I promised soup for anyone who might still be hungry. Cheese was a source of protein, so a vegetarian soup would round out things. Toasted cheese sandwiches paired with tomato soup is a classic combination and could have worked well. However, we decided on French Onion Soup.
A traditional recipe will tell you that you need to start off by sauteing your sliced onions. This would mean standing over a hot stove and stirring the vegetables for 25 to 20 minutes, then adding your liquids and letting the soup simmer to develop the flavors.
With a heat advisory in effect, and only one window air conditioning unit, any action that might increase the temperature of the inside of our apartment was not encouraged. That in mind, I headed to the bookshelf to see if there might be a way to prepare French Onion Soup in a crockpot.
After scanning the table of contents and index pages of several cookbooks, I figured out the basic technique for the slow-cooking part and got some ideas of how to make it taste better by adding bay leaf as well as pouring in some white and Marsala cooking wines in the last few minutes.
FRENCH ONION SOUP
3 cups sliced onion + 3 T softened butter
3 T flour
1 T Worcestershire + 1 t sugar + 1/4 t pepper
7 c beef broth
2-3 bay leaves
1 c white cooking wine
2 T Marsala cooking wine
Put the sliced onion and the butter into your crockpot. Toss them together, so that the onion rings separate and the butter coats most of them. Set the crockpot on high. Place the cover on, and let the onions cook for 30-35 minutes.
Add the flour to the mixture, tossing the onions with a fork so that the flour is distributed somewhat evenly.
In a separate bowl, combine the Worcestershire, sugar, and pepper. Pour this over the onion-flour mixture. Add the beef broth. Place the bay leaves on top. Place the cover back on, and let the soup cook: 3-4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. In the last 10 minutes, add the cup of white cooking wine. In the last 5 minutes, stir in the Marsala cooking wine.
French Onion Soup is tasty with a slice of crusty bread floating on top, which has cheese that has been broiled, but if it is a hot day, just slices of store-bought bread and a bowl of shredded cheese will also work out well.