Dinner @ 226 - Onion Soup & Prosciutto Sandwiches

For the past three Valentine's Days, those that we have either been expecting a baby or had a baby (or two), we have stayed in. But, we have made a sweet little tradition of having a very adult, low-key dinner long after the kids have gone to bed. There is always wine and beer and the 10 o'clock dinnertime is a pleasant reminder of our life outside of our children. A reminder that we mustn't always stick to the schedule. We mustn't always eat as a family. It is important (especially in mama's head) to make that the norm but it is also important to break free from the norm... and have some wine and super late dinners.

For the past few years we have ordered in sushi. And I didn't want to screw with that formula. Both of us love it. It is something we aren't yet able to share with the kids.* And, after finding our new favorite Thai restaurant, where they serve up steaming bowls of the best coconut soup, we are never disappointed by dinner. So, we did that and we were both in wasabi heaven. That was Saturday night.

On Friday night, however, I felt compelled to make him something from me. On the little special dates that pepper our calendar, I almost always give Jason something de la cuisine. I almost always pick something he loves but has never had its homemade better half. This time it was Onion Soup, which he loves and orders exclusively at Panera. Sorry Panera, I don't think we'll be back for the onion soup. I've got you beat(by a million). The only noises in our house for at least 30minutes were smacking lips and clinking spoons. This soup is fantastic and eons better than any you've ever had at a restaurant.

It was the perfect night. We were snowed in with Julia Child's Onion Soup, my ham and cheese, plenty of wine and beer, blankets, and the beginning of a Dexter marathon. Why didn't anyone tell me that show was so freaking good? And, why did I wait so long to make onion soup? Don't be a fool. Go make it.

Onion Soup from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle
Serves 6 to 8, Julia says. Jason and Whitney say it serves 2, max. No, we did have leftovers, but errrr... not much.

While I'm not suggesting kids wouldn't eat this soup, I'm not sure its simplicity would be aptly appreciated. It's perfect for a light (and late) dinner for two, especially with a ham sandwich, like I describe below. The onions take a while to develop the flavor that creates the base for the soup, so you don't want to skimp on the caramelization time. Make sure you can block off about three hours for this soup, but don't fret... only about thirty minutes of it are active cooking time.

1 1/2 lbs. or about 5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions
3 T butter
1 t salt
1/4 t sugar
3 T flour
2 quarts beef broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the onions with the butter and oil in a covered saucepan (I used a stockpot) for 15 minutes, over medium-low heat. Uncover, raise the heat to medium, and stir in salt and sugar. Cook the onions for 30 to 40 minutes stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown. While the onions are caramelizing, pour the broth into a separate saucepan and bring to a boil. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir for 3 minutes.

Remove the onions from the heat and add the boiling liquid. Add the wine, and season to taste. Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes more, skimming occasionally. Carefully taste and correct seasoning. I diluted my soup with some (about 3 cups) water to mellow it out a little. I used boxed broth, which already has salt in it. So, be cautious with adding salt if you are using canned or boxed broth.

The master recipe gives you four or five options of how to serve the soup, so many, it gets almost a little confusing. This is how we did it.

2 slices of day old, crusty bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
A few slices of good cheese. We used Gruyere, it would also be good with Swiss or Parmesan

Toss the bread cubes with a little olive oil and salt. Put them in a 400 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Set two (or however many you're serving) soup bowls on a baking sheet. Ladle the Onion Soup into soup bowls. Drop in a few croutons. Cover with slices of cheese and put the baking sheet back into the oven, set to Broil, for 4 or 7 minutes, or until the cheese looks bubbly and slightly charred in spots.

If you're hungry people like us, serve these little sandwiches alongside. If not, the soup is beyond satisfying on its own.

Open faced Prosciutto Sandwiches
Tear off a hunk of baguette, depending on how big you want your sandwich to be. slice it in half horizontally. Layer each side with 1T Dijon mustard, a few slices of Gruyere, and a few slices of prosciutto. Place the sandwiches, face up, on the baking sheet with the soup for the broiling phase.

Don't slurp too loud peeps, it's not ladylike.

*When can you give a kid sushi or am I just being paranoid about 2 year olds and raw fish and being up all night with a salmonella-stricken toddler and puke-stained pajamas and 3am hospital trips and, and, and...

For your completely unrelated viewing pleasure, our resident Smooth Criminal.

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