Monday, January 25, 2010

Dark Days - week 10

Wow - week ten already?  Times flies!  As promised, I will tell you about the cabbage soup.  I unfortunately could not make it our true local meal (although I'm sure you could if you can find local beans!), so I'll also tell you about the french onion soup which was successfully local.

Last weekend I set out to make beef broth.  I had a "soup bone" in the freezer from my Amish farmer in PA; they sell it either by one bone or something like 20 pounds of bones.  I am not yet set up to process 20 pounds of bones into stock, so it was one bone that I had purchased.  After reading through all of the advice to Sarah on our dark days list serve, I set forth making my own broth!

The bone was frozen and raw; I put it in a small oven-safe dish with one onion (skin and all) chopped up and roasted until it was nice and brown.  I then emptied the entire dish of goodness into my stock pot and covered with a big glug of apple cider vinegar and enough water to cover the meat.  Let that sit for about an hour.  I then added carrots, more onion and a giant bag of kale stems that have been hanging out in my freezer.  Oh - and also some mushrooms that had shriveled up in the back of our fridge. 

Added water up to almost the top and let it simmer... for the next 24 hours or so.  Every once in awhile I stirred it around and added more water to be sure it didn't cook down to nothing.  Once cooled, I strained it through cheese cloth and filled two quart jars and then some.  I let it cool to skim off the fat, but not much appeared in the end.
So on to the cabbage soup.  I found the recipe on 101cookbooks a couple weeks ago, and really couldn't stop thinking about making it.  I'm not sure how she feels about her recipe on my website, so for the full run-down, click thru to her recipe.  Below are the changes I made in making my soup:

  • For the 5 cups of stock, clearly I used my beef broth rather than Bouillon that she used (also turning a vegetarian soup into a not-so one)
  • I still haven't been able to find any local beans, so I used canned cannelli for my soup.
  • From her picture I can tell her cabbage was green; I had both red and green cabbage, and used both.  Not as attractive in the end, but it used up my red cabbage that was really beyond it's prime.
Now she says to saute the potatoes in 1 TBS of olive oil until soft; maybe my pan wasn't as thick-bottomed as hers, but I had some major sticking issues with the potatoes, eventually adding broth early to keep them from burning.  In the end it made no difference - the soup turned out fantastic!  I was unable to locally source the parm as well - so that and the beans make this not local, but everything else was!

On to the French onion soup:

This was another recipe where I simply googled french onion soup on my palm pre to be sure I had all the ingredients at the market and then made it without much research.  I think next time I'll try Alton Brown's recipe, but this one turned out to be an easy week-night meal.  This is the one I ended up using since it called for things I had and could easily source locally. 
Instead of the cans of beef broth it calls for I used mine.  I omitted the sugar, but afterwards wished I hadn't, because even Dave felt the soup should have been sweeter.  I also would have caramelized the onions longer if I weren't trying to get it on the table in record time.  I used my local buckwheat flour instead of AP, and a local whole wheat baguette instead of french. 

The swiss cheese was from South Mountain Creamery, and I had to buy a pound but only used a couple slices.  We don't usually buy swiss, so any suggestions as to dispose of the rest of the pound (dispose in our bellies, that is) are welcome!  The red wine was from Basignani Winery, a Maryland vineyard we discovered at a wine festival this past year. 

So aside from the "not sweet enough" comment from the hubby, and my personal opinion that I was a little too light-handed with the swiss, this first time in making french onion soup was awesome.  It is WAY easier than I once thought!


  1. I "discovered" French onion soup a few years ago too! The secret is really caramelizing the onions - 30-60 minutes of that before adding the stock. But ha, like you, I have rushed it before too.
    As for using the swiss, why don't you make melts with it? Bread, veggies, preferably some sprouts, slice of swiss on top and broil. Or you can use meat too. Oooo - make reubens! If you like sauerkraut and rye, that is.
    And I also wanted to say, I made beef stock recently too. Did pretty much what you did. My Amish farmer says he simmers his for 4 days. Oy. I wasn't that patient. I'm going to use mine for some beef noodle soup next week - hopefully dark days!

  2. Margo - you are SO right, I could have easily doubled the time I spend caramelizing the onions. Your reuben suggestion sounds good, but the melts seem even simpler for a quick yummy weekday meal!