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?
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.
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
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