Seven Soup Sunday – Soup Seven – How my mom made me look good for my husband, and French Onion Soup

So, after soup six on Sunday, I was hungry, so I decided this one was easy enough that I’d wait.  I do actually know how to count.  I’m just kind of lazy.

My mom is a tremendous cook.  She’s a lot of other things, but man did she valiantly feed a family of six for about a billion years amid cries of “What’s in this?” (she once said “Like saying ‘Turmeric’ makes that turn out any better.”)

She had a few things that I still miss and try to recreate from time to time.  My mom makes a French Onion Soup that is the best, and she gave me the recipe.  It’s not her recipe, she is quick to point out, but Annemarie’s message.  Like I know who that is.  With apologies to Annemarie, as far as I’m concerned, this is Mom’s French Onion Soup.

Scott – who was once on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and got off at the Lebanon exit and drove several miles so that he could buy Lebanon Bologna in actual Lebanon, also used to tell me about a time when he rode very far on a motorcycle to have a particular French onion soup.  The first time I made this, he was quite skeptical that it would be anywhere near as delicious as that mythical soup, but the first time I made this, he pumped his fist and said “That’s the SOUP!”  Now when I come home with consommé, he’s pretty happy, because he knows what’s coming.

  • 1 t butter
  • a piece of bacon, rendered
  • 4 big onions chopped
  • 2 cans of consommé
  • 1 can of water
  • 1 T of sherry (mom uses brandy, which I did not have)
  • 4 slices of French bread, toasted
  • 1/4 c of smoked or regular gruyere
  • 1/4 c of parmesan cheese
  1. Cook the bacon to render about 1 t of fat.  Remove the bacon part, leave the fat, throw in the butter and melt.
  2. Throw in the chopped onions and sauté til they’re golden brown
  3. Add the consommé and water, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer
  4. Simmer for an hour.  Add the sherry, and simmer 10 more minutes
  5. Put the toast in oven proof soup bowls, one per bowl,or in a crock.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top.
  6. Broil until the cheese is bubbly (with a cookie sheet underneath)

Eat.  Make your husband happy!


Seven Soup Sunday – Soup 4 – Smokey’s Moroccan Carrot Soup

I’m going to forget what I put in this one, I know it.

Somehow, our dogs are good at longevity.  Our sweet little corgi mix, Ruthie, was 20 years old when she died.  We got Smoke, a terrier mix that looks like someone cut up 5 dogs and sewed them together into a new dog, shortly after we were married, 14 1/2 years ago.   She was about 6 months old at the time and this dog – oh, man, was she naughty when she was little.  There is absolutely no hyperbole in saying that she ate, ate, a grand total of four couches in the first two or three years we had her. (We are – “Hey, do you want this couch we are getting rid of” people, for the most part, so it wasn’t as expensive a proposition as it might have been).  Once she escaped from the house and made a beeline across the street, into the neighbor’s living room, and stole the neighbor dog’s rawhide bone with, what I swear, was the biggest smile on her face.

Bumpus dog.  She’s a Bumpus dog.

And now she’s in her twilight years.  She’s a lot mellower.  She doesn’t eat couches anymore.  But boy can she trip you when you’re cooking.  She looks very sad at you, and suggests that you might want to drop a touch of whatever you’re up to in her direction.  I hate feeding her people food, but Scott has put her in charge of leftover disposal, so she thinks you’re just forgetting when you ignore her.

One day, a couple of years ago, I was chopping carrots, and Smoke was doing her thing, running circles around my feet, tripping me, and looking up with sad eyes and a plaintive whine.

“FINE!” I said.  “You’re a DOG.  Dogs don’t like carrots.  HERE.”

She ate the whole raw thing in three chomps.

This dog loves carrots.  She goes nuts for them.  She knows what they are when they come out of the refrigerator.  So, basically, I have a CSA to keep the dog in organic carrots?  That’s sort of a joke.

But I also have a bunch of carrots right now.

Do you know that Moroccan Carrot Salad?  That was what I was going for here, but I didn’t quite do it.  Doesn’t matter.  This soup is tasty anyway.  I assume Scott will feed her the leftovers.  All spice measurements are approximate, and to taste.

Smokey’s Moroccan Carrot Soup

  • Some olive oil
  • An onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 inches of ginger root, coarsely chopped
  • A little more than a pound of carrots, sliced in 1/4 – 1/2 inch rounds
  • Cumin – (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • Coriander seed (about a teaspoon)
  • Cinnamon (about a Tablespoon)
  • Chili powder (a teensy bit)
  • The seeds of 1 cardamom pod
  • Ginger – around a teaspoon
  • Honey – about a tablespoon
  • Lemon juice – about a tablespoon
  • 4 c broth
  1. Heat the olive oil and sauté the ginger root and onion until the onion is soft
  2. Toss in the coriander and stir around until it starts popping
  3. Add the other spices and stir to coat the onion and ginger root
  4. Add the carrots and stir until coated
  5. Squirt in the lemon juice and honey
  6. Add the broth
  7. Boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the carrots are soft.
  8. Blend and serve.

Seven Soup Sunday – Soup 3 Beet and Ginger Soup

I am still working with last week’s leftovers here…

Very very many years ago, when I was four, my mom married my dad, who moved us from Arizona to Vermont.  Eventually, Vermont would become my home, but I think at first, it was a little new and different.  For one thing, you know.  Snow.  Loads and loads and pounds of the stuff.  For another, a new school, new people, and I think I was a little bit shy and pretty sensitive as a kid.

Once my mom told me that she’d met some new people, and that they had twins, and that some time I would be able to play with these twins.  The whole thing seemed pretty exotic to only child me.  I remember once being with my mom and some woman with big bald toddler twins, and asking my mother with a mixture of excitement and disappointment whether these were my twins.  They were not.

And then one day there was a birthday party and there were my twins, turning four.  Jessica, I think, standing on the big rock in their front yard, and Carla running around.  I don’t remember much.  I assume there was cake, and ice cream, and presents, purchased by my mom, but presented by me.  I do know, however, that that was the start of Vermont being home.  It was the start of endless sleepovers and adventures, finding kittens in a barn, playing king of the mountain on a rusty trash pile in the woods*, staying up too late, Archie comics, Mad Magazines, and swimming in the pond.  It felt like a lifetime.  It feels like a lifetime.

We went to different schools during elementary school, so all our time was play time.  In junior high, we were in the same school, but different grades.  We never had classes together.  But in our junior high, you could take Russian.  I did.  And Jessica did.  When I was in 8th grade, and she was in 7th, the Russian classes held a Russian dinner, where we both cooked and served.  I think it was a fundraiser for a trip to Montreal for a Russian Easter Service.  (Here is what I do not recommend:  Russian Easter Services.  They last for three hours, and they are in Russian way beyond your limited ability to count to ten).

There is a picture in the yearbook of Jess and me, serving at the Russian dinner, a moment in time before high school hit, and then college, and what felt like it would last forever ending as we all moved to different parts of the country, and then back again, and every once in a while we find each other, and those tiny pieces of ourselves that we left in the woods.

That Russian dinner was the first place I saw borscht, and tiropites and came at the end of my Russian adventure, but not Jessica’s.  Jessica went on to major in Russian at Wellesley and visit Moscow, and come back and surprise me with how taken she was by its beauty.

Beet and Ginger Soup

  • 7 small roasted beets in their skins, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 pieces of ginger root, the size of my thumb, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 4 cups of stock
  • 2 shakes of dried orange peel
  • 1 drop of orange oil, if you can find it
  1. By this point, you know the drill, right?  Chop the onion and ginger, and sauté them in the olive oil until the onion is soft
  2. Throw in the chopped beets
  3. Add the stock
  4. Add the orange peel and orange oil
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for a while – 30 -45 minutes
  6. Blend with the immersion blender.
  7. Eat.

I’m probably going to make some little mushroom dumplings with this, and throw in some feta cheese.

* Vermont woods are often home to rusty trash piles.  As much fun as “Rusty Trash Pile King of the Mountain” might sound, you should really not try it unless your tetanus shot is up to date, which, I guess ours were, because none of us ever got tetanus.