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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Crockpot Onion Soup

It's not really *soup* season but it is sweet onion season, so now's the time.  The crockpot is a beautiful thing for this recipe...you use it to caramelize the onions overnight and then cook the soup.  I have seen recipes that call for one process or the other (or ofc for doing it all on the stovetop), but not both and quite frankly I think doing both is a brilliant proposal.  Especially when I do not want to babysit a pot of soup on the stove or even turn on my stove right now. 

Like any soup, leftovers reheat very nicely so you can make this totally in advance if you wanted.  Though since it goes in the crockpot, all you need for convenient cooking is to premeasure the second-stage ingredients and have them ready to dump in after the onions are brown.

I really like a little heat in this recipe.  The sweetness of the onions mellows the chipotle, and the chipotle keeps the onions from being sickly-sweet.  But if you don't do heat, don't add the chipotle.  One can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce will go a LONG way.  I go ahead and chop up the whole thing, and freeze the leftover smoosh in ice cube trays or pressed thinly in a ziptop bag for future recipes. 

A classic element of French Onion Soup is that melty, cheesy mess on top.  I loathe that part.  It's a pain to execute and a pain to eat.  I prefer to have grilled cheese alongside an unadorned bowl of soup.  I figure a grilled cheese sandwich hits all the same flavor and texture notes as a broiled cheesy baguette slice.  If you are *really* pressed for time on Dinner Day, you can butter the bread and stack the sandwiches the night before when you start the onions and just put the prepped sandwiches in a panini press or on a griddle, saving you a few minutes' prepwork and cleanup.

You do want to use the biggest crockpot you have, a 6 quarter preferably.  A 4 quarter will be very full, but if you reduce the amounts of the ingredients to 75%, you should be ok.  For one of those cute little 2 quart crockpots, you could reduce the ingredients by half and have a nice little dinner for 2.

Crockpot Onion Soup
Makes 6-8 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
4 lbs. sweet white onions, peeled, halved and sliced lengthwise (Lyonnaise style)
2-3 cups beef broth
1 10 oz. can beef consomm√©
1 tsp finely chopped chipotle in adobo sauce (optional)
1/3 cup sherry or brandy
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
To serve (optional): grilled cheese sandwiches

Onions, sliced Lyonnaise style...cut in half and sliced lengthwise, "with the grain" of the onion

Stage 1: The night before Dinner Day, spread the oil in the bottom of your crockpot and add the sliced onions on top.  Cook on low overnight or 8-10 hours, until browned.

Onions after browning overnight

Stage 2: The next morning, stir together 2 cups of broth, consomm√©, chipotle and sherry.  Stir this into the onions.  Add up to another cup of broth if needed to cover the onions.  Recover and cook on low 8-10 hours.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Finished soup after 10 hours on low
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