French Onion Soup

So simple so good
So simple so good

So I know that EVERYONE is under the impression that French Onion soup needs beef broth and soggy bread to be awesome…and to be honest French Onion Soup with both of those things is crazy good. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here is a surprising truth: French Onion Soup originated in the French countrysides in husband and wife little hostels/b&b’s where travelers stopped for a filling meal and a good sleep. The only ingredients in their soup were onions, water, salt & pepper, and then topped with whatever they could afford at the time. It was designed to be a cheap and long-lasting and easily accessible, and let’s face it, onions are pretty much always good to go.

My French Onion Soup is completely vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free without any toppers, so it’s totally up to you what it becomes. Oh, and did I mention that it is delicious and flavourful and if you never say anything NO ONE will guess that there is no meat involved in the making of this soup. I dare you to take this challenge…

Ingredientsimage

8-12 onions, sliced (the more variety the better)

1/2 bottle of decent, full bodied red (Cab Sauv is best, a French full bodied wine is better, but basically anything you will drink on it’s own but doesn’t cost a ton)

1 carton (900ml) vegetable stock (or even better make your own)

1 carton (refill your veggie stock carton) water

White, non-died string + cheesecloth

2 sprigs each of fresh thyme and rosemary

3 bay leaves

Parmesan Crisps

1 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese + parchament paper

image

Half and slice onions by hand or in food processor, making lengthwise strips. Put all strips in large stock pot with lid or Dutch Oven on stove on medium heat, and let cook for 4-8 hours. Remember, the longer it cooks the more flavour you get; these onions will create their own, amazing, delicious juice which is what you want for this soup. The onions should caramelize and can even stick to the bottom of the pot as much as they want, because that’s all flavour. Stir every hour or so. No butter, no oil, no anything is necessary for this process.

Once you have decided your onions are dark enough, add your wine, and let cook/reduce for 5 minutes. Then add vegetable broth, water, and bay leaves. Pack the thyme and rosemary in the cheesecloth, make a “tea bag” and tie/secure with string, then drop in the soup, tieing one end of the string to a pot handle. If you have no cheesecloth, no worries…tie the herbs together and secure to the pot handle without the cheesecloth and your good. Let cook one hour.

Optional: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Place 2 inch round disks of grated parm. Cook for 5 minutes until golden and let cool.

Spoon soup into bowls and top with Parmesan Crisps. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Off Booze

Enough said
Enough said

So I am doing a dry January. For those of you who know me, you are laughing out loud, slapping your knee and crying because me without wine or cider is a ridiculous thought. For those of you who don’t know me, you’re wondering why anyone would put themselves through such a thing. But for those who know me really well, you know that I have been doing a dry January for some years now. And turns out other people do it too…it’s a thing.

Usually being off booze is a real struggle for me, not because I need to be drunk all the time by any means, but because I love a great wine paired perfectly with a delicious dish. Because I love to try emerging craft ciders. And because sometimes all you need is a gin martini with a twist. Don’t get me wrong…I am from up north (like way up north), so I know that if you have to hike into that campsite, a box of wine without the box, also known as a bag of wine, not only travels well but will get you drunk and also makes a great pillow if it lasts through the night. I also know that the fastest, cheapest way to get drunk is doing a shot every once in a while until last call (aaahh…break-ups).

However, perhaps it’s because I have matured into a “classy drinker”, if you will, or because I am becoming more aware that “Toto, I don’t think we’re in college anymore”, but this January being off the booze is not only not hard, but feels just right. I feel awesome. I make it to the gym or yoga almost every day. I am not only eating, but craving healthy meals. And drinking tons of water has become second nature.

But why quit drinking, you ask?

1. Because Dehydration

Drinking even just a “couple” glasses of wine most nights will dehydrate you. Dehydration can easily put you in the hospital, and is terrible for all things internal and external. By laying off the booze you can help aid anything from dry skin, chapped lips, and brittle hair and nails, to stiff joints, muscle cramps, and constipation.

2. Because Horngry

That’s right…it’s horny plus hungry. You have a proverbial hard-on for all things starchy, salty, deep-friedy, saucy, sticky, cheesy, and gooey. Booze makes your body crave things high in both sugar and salt. Essentially, you are sabotaging any healthy changes you are trying to make to your diet, because you will lose and choose shit food too often to keep you on track.

3. Because “You Ugly”

In uni you may have been privy to the learnings from a poster on your buddy’s dorm room wall that he bought at the Imaginus poster sale that read “Beer. Helping Ugly People Get Laid Since 1776” (or something to that effect). However while drinking may make other people more attractive to you (and that’s a whole other pile of wrong), the truth is it makes you unattractive, both long and short-term. When you’re drunk you tend to slouch and stick out your belly. You sweat more which makes your hair look greasier. And regular boozing will eventually lead to serious wrinkles, blotchy skin, and just rapidly age you before your time. Before you know it you will be drinking to handle your own ugly, pre-mature cougary looking reflection, and that’s sad.

4. Because “You Dumb”

It’s true…think about it. You are smarter when you don’t drink. And I don’t mean you avoid making stupid impulse decisions or mistakes…this isn’t a miracle. I mean you are actually more intelligent sans the drinky-poo. Your memory is clearer, your thoughts are more precise, you have better concentration, and you make fewer careless mistakes. While some of the best ideas were once a drunk drawing on a pizza box (aka Trivial Pursuit), I will bet most of the best ideas came from a sober stroke of genius rather than a drunken shot of vodka.

Essentially I am not recommending that you never enjoy a beautiful glass of red again, but saying that it may be time for you to ease up on the reigns. Or at least try a month being off booze and see what happens. My prediction is you will be pleasantly surprised at how awesome you feel, and what you are capable of.

 

Please note that a permanent leave of absence from alcohol may be the best choice for you for many serious and complex reasons. Should this be the case, do not be afraid to ask for help.