Soup's on: One-pot dinners to get you through life's storms

Russ Parsons
The California Cook
Weather or the world got you down? Warm, comforting soups are a sure cure

We’re heading into a rainy, cool weekend — and, hopefully, beyond. That can only mean one thing: soup dinners.

There are few things as comforting when the weather — or life in general — turns nasty. A pot of soup on the stove, the kitchen windows starting to fog up from the warmth, let the world and the weather outside do what they're going to do, you’ll be in good shape.

There are countless variations on the soup dinner theme, here is a short sample, including one classic version of an all-time favorite: French onion soup, adapted from Comme Ca.

SOUPE A L'OIGNON GRATINÉE

Note: Adapted from Comme Ca.

8 large onions, halved and sliced lengthwise into 1/4 -inch strips

1/4 cup butter

Salt

2 2/3 cups water, divided

2/3 cup dry sherry

5 cups chicken broth (with as little sodium as possible)

2 2/3 cups beef broth

8 sprigs fresh thyme and one bay leaf, tied together

Fresh ground black pepper

1 loaf French bread

1 pound Gruyere, grated

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the onions and butter in large lidded casserole, season with one-fourth teaspoon salt, cover and place in the oven. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until the onions are softened and a light golden-brown, about 1 1/2 hours.

2. Transfer the casserole to the stove-top and heat over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are a deep golden-brown and just begin to stick to the bottom of the pot to form a crust.

3. Add half of the water and cook, scraping the bottom constantly, until the water has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add the sherry and continue cooking until it has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.

4.  Stir in the remaining water, chicken broth and beef broth, as well as the thyme bundle and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a bare simmer and continue to cook for 40 minutes. Remove the thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. While the soup is simmering, prepare the toasts: Slice the French bread on a bias into one-half-inch thick slices large enough to fit inside of each soup bowl (use one toast if it will fit, two if the slices are smaller). Toast the bread until crisp and golden. Set aside.

6. Fill 8 oven-proof soup bowls with soup to one-half inch from the rim, making sure to distribute onions evenly between bowls. Lay the toasts on top of the soup, inside the edges of the bowl. Sprinkle the grated Gruyere evenly over the tops of the bowls and place the bowls under the broiler just until the cheese is bubbling and begins to brown in places. Serve immediately.

Each serving:

490 calories; 27 grams protein; 36 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 26 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 78 mg. cholesterol; 808 mg. sodium.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter @russ_parsons1

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