Archive | August, 2012

Soup with Sausage, Silverbeet (Chard) and White Beans.

30 Aug

Soup soup soup! French onion soup is such a special dish. So nice to have your recipe for it B.

This recipe is a soup my family have been making a bit of recently… it is hearty and wintry, and special enough to serve as a meal for weeknight guests.

I buy sausages made by our local butcher made with pork, fennel and chilli, they flavour up the entire soup beautifully. I would think that any good quality sausages will work well. Here in Australia we call this leafy vegetable ‘silverbeet’, but I understand it is simply ‘chard’ in the USA. I have made it to our new house finally (yay!) and I thought it fitting for the first meal I cooked to be this soup.

I am not sure if you collect Parmesan rinds, but this is a great way to use them. You don’t eat the rind, you remove it from the soup before eating, but it imparts a flavour through the soup as it cooks. So don’t throw them away… keep them in the fridge for dishes like this.

Here is what you will need:

Sausages, cannellini beans, garlic, rosemary, onion, carrot, celery, silverbeet (chard), olive oil, pepper, and a dash of vinegar. Possibly salt too, but taste before adding any. Also, some chicken stock, tomato paste and the rind of some Parmesan, which missed the photo shoot. Must have been still getting their hair done.

I started by tearing the casing off the sausages and rolling small meatballs from the filling.

I heated up a little olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot, and then added the meatballs to brown over medium heat.

While they were cooking I chopped up some onion, carrot and celery, the classic trio, and then added them along with some chopped rosemary to the browned meatballs. I left them to cook and absorb all of the flavour the sausage had given to the oil.

While that was cooking away I prepared everything else. I minced garlic, then washed and drained the canned beans. I removed the stem from the silverbeet, which is hard to take a photo of without a tripod, but I hold it by the stem, and then run the knife downward along the edges of the stem. It is easier than it looks. I then washed it well and sliced it up roughly.

When I was happy that the onion was transparent, I added tomato paste and the minced garlic to the pot, and let that cook for about a minute before adding in the stock, silverbeet, Parmesan rind and beans. My pot overfloweth!

I put the lid on, opening it up to stir from time to time. As the silverbeet cooks down it starts to resemble soup. I think I needed to chop my silverbeet a bit finer than this. So use this as a guide for a bit large, OK?

I simmered the soup for about twenty minutes, just prior to serving I added a dash of vinegar. This gives a nice acid balance.

Lovely vibrant colours and flavour to match. I removed the rind, added a grind of black pepper and it was ready to go.

I am glad to have documented this recipe… as I will be returning to make it myself, over and over.

Over to you B… are you in a soupy mood?


serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
250g (1/2 pound) sausage. I used pork, fennel and chilli, but any good fresh italian sausage would work. Remove casings and roll in to small meatballs
1 brown onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 garlic cloves finely chopped, crushed or grated
1 large bunch silverbeet
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed well and drained
1 litre (1 quart) chicken stock
1 Parmesan rind (if you have one handy)
1 generous tablespoon cider vinegar
Pepper and possibly salt, to taste

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Brown the meat balls, for around 8 minutes, before adding the onion, carrot, celery and rosemary. Continue to cook, stirring frequently for around 10 minutes or until the onion is transparent.

Add the tomato paste and garlic, stir for a minute then add the stock, silverbeet, beans and Parmesan rind. With the lid on, cook for 20 minutes over medium low heat, stirring from time to time. Remove the rind before serving, and season with the vinegar plus a little salt and pepper to taste. Serve. Eat. Say “yum”.

French Onion Soup

18 Aug

Those caramelized onions of Alice’s made me drool. They looked so good! That inspired me to make French onion soup.  It’s definitely one of my favorite soups and it’s such a classic. Julia Child was known for her onion soup recipe and it just so happens that this week would have been Julia’s 100th birthday. I also have my Dad’s Julia Child cookbook which is such a treasure.  So I pulled out the book and dove in.

This recipe is simple if you follow the recipe, especially if you read Alice’s post first. She will guide you along in the onion caramelizing process. It’s not a quick recipe, but it makes your house smell really good and is just the thing to make on a nice cool day with friends. ESPECIALLY with friends.

First chop up onions.

Then over medium low heat, melt butter and add to it some oil and then the whole batch of chopped onions.

Cover and let the onions sweat over medium low heat for 15 minutes

Then remove the cover, add the salt and sugar and increase the heat. Cook for another 30-40 minutes at medium heat, stirring frequently.

While the onions are cooking, grate about four ounces of Swiss and two ounces of Parmesan cheese.

When the onions are dark and nicely caramelized, add the flour and stir constantly for three minutes. Do as I say and not as I do on this one, as my onions were not dark enough. I was concerned with watching the clock and didn’t let them get as dark and richly caramelized as they should have.

Add one cup of the broth and stir until it is all incorporated into the flour and onion mixture. Then add the rest of the broth and the wine all at once, toss in the bay leaf and turn the heat down to medium low again and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste the soup and adjust for salt and pepper.

While the soup is simmering, cut a baguette into thin slices, put onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes or until the bread is crisply toasted.

Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls, sprinkle a little of the grated cheese, top with a few of the slices of the toasted baguette and top with a 1/4 cup of cheese.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, then turn on the broiler and broil for 3-5 more minutes until the cheese is bubbly and toasted.


We had a nice little dinner party with our soup, we started with Ina Garten’s Tomato Crostini with Whipped Feta,

then served dinner with these gorgeous multicolored beets, topped with a light vinaigrette


Where will you take us now, Alice??



French Onion Soup

5-6 cups yellow onions, sliced thin
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
6 cups beef stock or 3 beef stock and 3 chicken stock
½ cup white wine
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Sliced baguette
4 ounces Swiss cheese, grated
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat a heavy, oven-safe stock pot over medium low heat and add the butter and oil to the pot. Stir the sliced onions into the oil/butter mix, ensuring they are evenly coated. Cover the stock pot and cook for 15-20 minutes, checking to make sure they aren’t burning. The onions should be translucent and tender once finished. Turn up the heat to medium high and add the sugar and salt. Continue to cook, stirring frequently for another 30-40 minutes until the onions are thoroughly browned (or just follow Alice’s recipe for Caramelised Onions).

Reduce heat to medium low and stir in the flour. Cook for three minutes until flour forms a thick paste. Stir in one cup of beef stock until fully combined. Add the rest of the stock, wine and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Slice enough baguette to have enough to float in each bowl, approximately 4-6 slices. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and put the baking sheet into the oven. Let it toast for 5-7 minutes until the bread is crusty.

Taste the soup, adjust for seasonings and remove the bay leaf.

Ladle the soup into 4-6 oven proof bowls, sprinkle a little of the grated Swiss cheese into the soup, place one of the toasted bread slices on top of the soup and cover with ¼ cup of cheese, using the Swiss and Parmesan cheeses.

Place bowls onto a baking sheet and place into the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling. Then turn on the broiler and brown the cheese for 3-5 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and let the bowls cool for a few minutes. Serve.

Caramelised Onions

8 Aug

I have never had Popovers, I’d never even heard of them before. I am intrigued by them now. How does that stunning shape form on top?

I am in Melbourne, hoping that one day the house we are building will be finished, and am being graciously hosted by my father and step-mum. B’s post made me think of many delicious tangents, rhubarb muffins, a friend suggested cheese blintzes, but this house is mostly a sugar free house, and one person is wheat free too. So if I am cooking up a storm, I want it to be something to share.

I have always found caramelised onions to be magic. You take a basic ingredient, onion, and with a little oil, and a whole lot of stirring over heat, it becomes this intense, sweet and versatile mess. The way I imagine popovers, it would taste great on them. It also works on a simple steak or a slice of bread and cheese. Tonight I am planning to toss it through some baked potato cubes and serve it alongside some pan-fried fish.

Often when I go to a restaurant and they say they have caramelised onions, I am disappointed as they aren’t caramelised to this same point of bliss. I really do recommend making them yourself sometime. They are quite a bit of work, only because of the stirring, but it pays to make them yourself for a flavour you don’t get elsewhere.

Here is what I started with… small onions, oil, rosemary and bay leaves.

The recipe I use is from this book, Stephanie Alexander’s famous The Cook’s Companion. She cleverly lists no times, as it really does depend on how high you have the heat. I seem to always have the heat a little too low to begin with, and turn it up as I go. This time I spent an hour and a half cooking.

First I peeled and chopped the onions… then put all of the ingredients in to a heavy bottomed pan, gave it a stir, and then put the lid on. Over medium heat I left them to cook for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes until softened.

Then I took the lid off, and continued to cook. Stirring frequently, I cook and scraped the pan of the delicious pieces that stick a little, until the whole pan full had reduced down and was a ‘rich caramel brown’.  They reduce so dramatically, don’t be afraid as you cut up what seems like mounds and mounds of onion.

Like alchemy huh?

Sweet, without adding a touch of sugar, and the added bonus of the house smelling wonderful.

In theory, they last a few days in the fridge. Strangely enough, mine never seem to hang around much longer anyway.

Have you ever made them B? Where do they take you?


Caramelised Onions
Recipe by Stephanie Alexander, from The Cook’s Companion

Stephanie says: This is my favourite way to eat onion. You can add it to many other sandwiches or to pasta, or use it in frittatas, as a topping for a quick pizza, on a piece of grilled tuna, in a warm salad of chick peas or to add instant depth of flavour to a stew.

20 small or pickling onions, peeled
half cup olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary

Quarter or slice onions. Tip all ingredients into a heavy-based frying pan over a moderate heat. (A non-stick pan also does a good job. Be careful to use a non-scratching implement for stirring.) Cover pan and cook for 15 minutes until the onion has begun to soften, stirring frequently. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring, until the onion has started to turn a rich caramel brown. It doesn’t matter if sections look very dark – this adds flavour. The important thing is to stir frequently to prevent sticking. (If this looks likely, add an extra spoonful of oil. The onions can be drained of any excess oil before using.)

The onions and their oil keep well in a covered container in the refrigerator for several days. The oil is just as delicious as the onions!


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