Italian Onion Soup

Categories: Soup
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Published on: October 21, 2011

Italian Onion Soup

Italian Onion Soup
Italian Onion Soup

Baked French onion soup. Who hasn’t been ordering that since they were a kid?
As far as I can recall, that was the first “adult” thing I ordered in a restaurant when I was a kid.
Seeing all that cheese baked over the top of the crock. Getting to that soggy crouton underneath. Mmmm. That was good eating.
All that cheese and bread made it worth having to eat all those onions. But as I grew up and the novelty wore off, I ordered it less and less.
I do still enjoy it, but I’ve gotten a few “bad bowls” of it over the years. So I tend to not order it when I am out. Plus…who can eat all that and then a meal. That is a mean.

Last year, I thought I’d give it a try myself, but instead of French Onion, I put more of an Italian spin on it and made my own “Italian Onion Soup”.
It doesn’t roll off the tongue like French Onion, but damn is it good. And simple to boot.

6 cups beef stock
1 large sweet onion (cut in 1/2 and then sliced)
1 large white onion (cut in 1/2 and then sliced)
2 cloves garlic (pressed)
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp oregano
Grated Fontinella (about 3 cups)
Grated Romano cheese (about ¼ cup)
Salt and pepper

Large Ciabatta bread crouton

TIP: I suggest you make the croutons in advance of making the soup.
Or you can do it while the soup is simmering. Either way, have them ready to go when you need them.
You can read how to make them here: Ciabatta Bread Crouton.

If you really have some time on your hands, you can make your own hearty beef stock. Which I did when I made this one. It adds more complexity to the flavor of the soup.
if you don’t have time, pre-made beef stock will do.

Heat oil in a large pot on medium.
When the oil is hot, add the onions and salt and pepper. Sauté until they begin to soften. About 10 minutes. (DO NOT BROWN!)
Add thyme, oregano and garlic. Continue to sauté for another 2 minutes stirring frequently, so the garlic cooks a bit but does not brown or burn.
Add your stock. Turn the heat to low  and let it simmer for an hour.

TIP: After about 15 minutes of simmering, taste the broth and adjust with salt and pepper.

Ladle into oven safe bowls (or crocks) and drop your Ciabatta bread crouton on top.
Cover with Fontinella cheese and top with a little grated Romano cheese.
Personally, I just like enough cheese to cover the bread. I don’t overload the top, so it’s dripping down the bowl. It’s just too much cheese.

Place bowls on a sheet pan and under a broiler for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. (You can keep it under until cheese is brown if you like.)

Use pot holders to remove sheet pan. Top with a little more grated Romano cheese (And chopped chives if you like) and serve.

The Ciabatta bread has a great chewy crust to it, which stands up to the liquid in the soup. Because of this, you should serve this soup with a fork and knife as well as a spoon.

An alternative to the large crouton is to use a bunch of little ones. It’s easier to eat, but lacks the presentation value that impresses your guests.

Crab and White Bean Bisque

Categories: Crab, Soup
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Published on: October 6, 2011

Crab and White Bean Bisque

Crab and White Bean Bisque
Crab and White Bean Bisque

I love Cannellini beans. For the past few years I have been
experimenting with a ton of different dishes using them. Aside from being very nutritious,
they have such a great taste. If only I could get my kids to eat them.

I had seen a kind of white bean soup somewhere but did not have a recipe for
it, so I decided to wing it and see what happens. What happened was one of my
favorite soups was born, that’s what. When I made it a second time I added crab meat to it and POOF…..magic was made! I can seriously eat a whole pot of this stuff by myself.

If you like crab, then you have to try this soup. If you don’t, you can leave it out
and it’s still fantastic. But you’ll be missing out on the magic. Seriously, don’t miss out onthe magic.

3 cans cannellini beans
6 cloves of garlic (pressed or minced)
10 baby carrots – diced
1 stalk of celery – sliced
1 medium white onion – diced
5 cups chicken stock
2 sprigs of thyme
½ tbs oregano
1 tsp cayenne
Salt and Pepper
3/4 cup fresh grated Romano cheese
1 ½ pounds king crab meat
1 tbs Olive Oil
A table spoon of butter
Crusty bread

Put the oil and butter in a pot. Heat on medium low till butter melts.
Sautee the carrots, celery and onion on medium-low heat till all are soft. Do not brown any of them! About 12 – 15 minutes.
Add in the garlic, cayenne, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.
Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. You want the garlic to cook a little, but not brown. (Brown garlic is bitter)
Add the beans and the chicken stock.
Simmer for about 20-30 minutes and then  add a handful of Romano cheese.
Simmer another 20 – 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
Use an immersion blender and blend till smooth. (Or pour into a regular blender and blend. Then return to pot.)
The consistency becomes smooth and creamy. No need for cream! But you could add a little to lighten it up a bit if you like. Personally I don’t think it needs it.

About 3 – 5 minutes before you are ready to serve, add the crab into the soup.  You just want the crab to get worm.
Ladle into bowls.
Top with salt, pepper and a little more grated cheese.

Serve with the bread or croutons.

Creamy Artichoke Soup

Categories: Soup
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Published on: October 3, 2011

Creamy Artichoke Soup

Creamy Artichoke Soup
Creamy Artichoke Soup

Another delicious little gem that I grew up with were stuffed artichokes! About once every other month or so, my mom would make theme.
Hot, steamy and stuffed with breadcrumbs.

You can find our family recipe at : Stuffed Artichokes

I was over at my neighbor Dan’s house a few weeks back and we were talking
about food,  (Dan likes to cook as well.) and artichokes came up. I commented that I have only had them stuffed, but I love them and wanted to try something new with them. I had been making soup earlier that week, so I was brainstorming that I should give an artichoke soup a try. And an idea was born.

The next week, I saw that some nice sized artichokes were on sale at the market
(About $0.69 a lb.) so I bought 6 of them and gave it a try.

It’s a bit of work and kind of time consuming, because you have to steam the
artichokes first to get the leaves and choke off. But in the end, I really don’t
mind spending the time, if the end result is good. This came out pretty good. I’ll
probably experiment with it and tweak it out more the next few times I make it.

6 Artichoke hearts (Steamed until tender with leaves and choke removed)
1 stalk celery
10 baby carrots (chopped)
1 medium sweet onion (diced)
2 sprigs of Thyme
4 cloves garlic (minced)
Handful of fresh grated Romano cheese (About 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon butter
5 cups chicken stock (I used Turkey stock that I made myself from roasted Turkey Legs)

Sauté the onions, carrots and celery about 5 minutes.
Add a few grinds of salt and a few of pepper.
Add artichoke hearts, (quartered) garlic and thyme.
Keep sautéing for another 2 minutes.
Add stock and bring heat up to medium.
Add cheese and stir.
When soup starts to boil, reduce to low and simmer for at least an hour.
Taste broth and season with salt and pepper.

When ready to serve use emersion blender to blend everything smooth. (No need for cream!)
Ladle into bowls and top with fresh ground pepper and chopped chives.

I also had some homemade croutons I made out of French baguette. (Cut into cubes, tossed with olive oil, sea salt and pepper and into a 350 degree oven till brown)


Ciabatta Bread Croutons

Categories: Bread, Croutons
Comments: No Comments
Published on: September 28, 2011

Ciabatta Bread Croutons

Ciabatta Bread
Ciabatta Bread

You may like bread……..I love bread. And in all seriousness Ciabatta bread is awesome. A great chewy outer crust and a light and airy inside.
I really can’t get enough of this bread. It works well with so many things I make.

In this instance I am making a Ciabatta crouton for the purpose of putting it into my Italian Onion Soup. Normally I wouldn’t make such a huge crouton.

Ciabatta square rolls
olive oil
salt and pepper.

Pre-heat over (or toaster oven) to 350.

Cut the rounded top off of the Ciabatta roll, about 3/4 of an inch from the bottom.

Place on an oven safe tray and drizzle olive oil over top and add salt and pepper.

Ciabatta Bread Croutons
Ciabatta Bread Croutons

Bake for about 15 – 17 minutes, or until bread starts to get brown and crispy. (Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn

Remove from oven and let it cool. As it cools, it will firm up quite a bit and get nice and crispy.
That’s good! It will soak up the soup well.

As so the tops of the bread do not do to waste, I also cube those up, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake along side of the rolls. I usually serve these on the side of the soup, just in case someone wants extra.

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