There is a campaign, perhaps you’ve heard of it, encouraging us to go meatless on Mondays and it’s called, of course, Meatless Monday. Meatless Monday is a non-profit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. Their goal is to help reduce meat consumption by 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of the planet; the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide far more than transportation.

We don’t necessarily avoid meat at crunchtime here and here and here;we just like it on occasion, and as more a side dish than a main course – say 4-6 oz portions. We applaud Monday Campaigns for their initiative and are going to do our best to eat meatless meals on Mondays. Here is the first attempt with onion soup – in a big slow cooker.

I have a few cooking machines in my kitchen and there’s a moment each season when I move my slow cooker to the front of the cabinet and the ice cream maker to the back – it’s a way to mark a season change in California, when the still-attached leaves and weather don’t do it for me. It was that time to pull out the slow cooker for one of my favorite recipes from a modern slow cooker tome.

This one is just too easy to taste this good.

I got to use another macho cooking machine – the food processor to slice onions.

A beautiful blooming onion without the batterin’ or deep fat fryin’. I tossed the slices in a light pool of olive oil and put them in a slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours. Voila – French Onion Soup – or if you’re French – Onion Soup – in the works. The entire slow cooking process was about 8-10 hours on the low setting.

I stirred somewhere around the 4th hour and then a few hours later added the stock and bay leaves. For Meatless Monday, I relied on vegetable stock, but Tuesday through Sunday, I use a combination of beef and chicken stock.

Now, I glanced over the Meatless Monday site to see if dairy was a crime, because the cheesy topping is essential to French Onion Soup, and, because I only glanced, with the hope of permitting myself the cheese indulgence, I found no objection and went full onion soup. Oh yes I did. But, here’s where I need your help – oh cooking mavens out there. I can never get a restaurant quality cheese roof over my onion soup.

I toasted the baquette slices with olive oil on both sides – check.

I thinly sliced the sinful Swiss Gruyere cheese – check.

I layered them into the soup and broiled for a few minutes – check. But I did not get that thick, toasted, dripping-over-the-edge cheesy goodness that I get at restaurants – and I’m from Wisconsin where my cheese skills should be legendary. The soup was delicious and the cheese, divine, but it just didn’t nourish my eyes. Can anyone offer advice on that little broiling dilemma?

Just to round out Meatless Monday…I added a timid mache (lamb’s lettuce) salad with a vinaigrette from the gorgeous and brilliant Laura Caulder who stars in a show on my new favorite channel.

She called for watercress, I only had mache; she called for grapes, I only had strawberries – but I added the toasted almonds, fleur de sel, ground pepper, a splash of champagne vinegar, and a slight shower of olive oil, as she required. My French salad and my French Onion Soup were ready for Meatless Monday dinner.

[recipe]

meatless monday – french onion soup

Cooktime: 30 minutes active – 8-10 hours total servings 6 – 8

4-5 onions, sliced

3 T olive oil

2 bay leaves

48 oz (4 cans) vegetable broth

French baguette

Gruyere Cheese

S & P to taste

Toss sliced onions with olive oil. Add onions and bay leaves to crock pot and cook for 3-4 hours. Stir and add water or stock if you think they are too dry. If not, continue cooking for another 3-4 hours.

Add stock and continue cooking for 30 minutes longer.

Slice baguette and brush both sides with olive oil. Toast for 10 minutes in 350° oven. Slice cheese.

When soup is finished cooking, ladle into oven-proof bowls. Place one or two baguettes on the top and top with cheese slices. Broil for 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Serve immediately.

recipe adapted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker and provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com

8 Comments

  1. Tammy says Dec 17th 2010 11:00 am

    This sounds really good and oh so easy. With your cheese issue, I would try thicker slices of cheese. Maybe instead of broiling you could just set them back in the oven to melt.

  2. Jen says Dec 17th 2010 2:50 pm

    Yum 🙂 I’m salivating! Maybe I missed it in the post/recipe, but about how many servings will you get from this recipe?

    thanks!

    • Sherri says Dec 17th 2010 6:36 pm

      Jen – You’re right – recipe says 4-6 servings – I say more like 6 large servings. I fixed it in the recipe – thanks.

      Tammy – Great idea. We’re eating leftovers – excuse me – I mean onion soup encore, tonight. I’ll give it a try. Thanks.

  3. Rebecca Jean says Dec 21st 2010 10:14 am

    I’d say you did a bang on job for your first Meatless Monday. I am a soup fiend, but have yet to make french onion. I love using a slow cooker so this is going on my “Recipes to Make” list.

    I host a weekly Meatless Monday blog carnival. This would be a great post to link to it.

    I invite you to add your meatless posts to the carnival and wish you best of luck on your Meatless Monday journey. If you need any inspiration, there’s always lots of yummy meatless recipes linked up there.

    ♥ Rebecca Jean
    Midnight Maniac

  4. Trish says Feb 9th 2011 12:34 am

    I just stumbled upon your site and I’m loving it. Your eating philosophy is very much the same as mine. As for the cheese issue….

    The cup or bowl should be filled all the way to the top with the soup. You will also want the croutons to fit the top of your cup/bowl like a lid. (they can be cut and pieced in to fit) Now you can add the cheese and broil. This method allows you to push the cheese into the soup with your spoon as apposed to having it fall in and disappear during the melting process.

    • Sherri says Feb 9th 2011 12:04 pm

      Trish, great advice. That explains it, I don’t fill the bowl to the top. I suppose those are habits from serving a ten-yearold boy. Okay, we’re putting a lid on the soup not an ingredient in it, makes perfect sense. Thanks for helping Trish.

  5. Seth Easterday says Mar 25th 2011 2:41 pm

    Looks awesome Sherri…can’t wait to make it! Love the blog! Do you have any of your mom’s recipes on here? I’m thinking of her mac and cheese!

    • Sherri says Mar 26th 2011 9:38 pm

      Seth, I haven’t put my mom’s recipes here yet but soon. I will make the mac and cheese according to her directions, but somehow I do not think it could be perfectly duplicated.

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