Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Comfort in a Bowl

I've always thought about soup as comfort in a bowl. It just feels warming and healing. Plus it's so easy to make. You can throw just about anything in, walk away for 30 min and come back to a tasty new creation. Tonight was less about experimenting, and more about a childhood favorite, updated. Growing up, going out to eat was a special treat, and I loved to order French Onion Soup: it sounded so exotic. Then, while studying in Spain, I learned the trick of making my own croutons (or migas) and that soup suddenly became so simple and accessible.

Adding a leek tonight brought a splash a color and a different texture. I imagine if you don't want to make your own croutons, but you're welcome to buy them from the grocery store, but I promise, they're very easy to make, and definitely worth it. My soup, of course, is made with vegetable broth, but I suppose beef broth is more authentic.

As for working with the leek, I admit I was confused by the amount of dirt the first time I cooked one, but they're actually simple to clean. Rinse off the outside to get rid of outer dirt, then slice in half lengthwise. If there's visible dirt, rinse it out. Peel off outer layer, and slice into half moons.

French Leek Soup
2 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, cut in half, and sliced thinly
1 leek, cleaned and sliced into half moons
3 cups vegetable broth
croutons (recipe below)
swiss cheese, grated

Melt butter in the bottom of a medium pot. Add garlic, onion, and leek, and sautee over medium low for at least 10 min, or until onions are caramelized. Make sure to stir often. Add broth, bring to a boil, then allow to simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 min.

Serve topped with cheese and croutons.

Serves 2, 4 as a side dish.

Stovetop Croutons
2-3 slices bread (stale is fine)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Tear or cut bread into 1/2 in pieces. Put in a bowl, and toss with olive oil and seasonings until evenly coated. Taste a piece to see if it's sufficiently salted. Err on the side of salting lightly, then add more as needed.
Heat a dry skillet over medium/medium high heat, until toasted on one side, then flip so other side gets lightly golden.

These will keep for a few days in an airtight container, but I love them best still warm in soups or salads.

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