Patricia Wells is my new best friend. I have had her cookbook, Bistro Cooking, for a while but only recently began cooking out of it. The recipes are simple but hearty French bistro fare that rely on the best ingredients for flavor, and each one I have attempted has been delicious. Her Marinated Goat Cheese, for instance, should be a pantry staple; it keeps for a long time, and it is a tasty snack and a useful ingredient to have on hand for salads and other dishes.
This week I made two soups from Bistro Cooking: a superb French Onion Soup that relies on braising the onions in wine rather than sauteing them for its deep flavor (recipe follows), and a surprisingly delicious Double Celery Soup of celery, celery root and leeks, which has to be extremely good for you as well as just being good. Both soups are so simple that they absolutely rely on homemade chicken stock for their foundation — otherwise, they would have no body.
Wells’ book Bistro Cooking encourages you to keep great ingredients on hand in order to quickly put together satisfying meals that don’t require the fussy handling and intricate preparation we often associate with French cooking. I love turning my kitchen into a French bistro.
French Onion Soup
Yields: 2 servings
Time to make: ~1 hour
What you need:
- 1 lg. onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2 cups homemade chicken stock
- 2-4 slices baguette or French bread
- 2/3 cup grated Gruyere or Emmenthal cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
- Combine the onion, butter and wine in a shallow baking dish, and braise in the oven until the liquid has been absorbed, about 45 minutes
- While the onion is cooking, bring the stock to a simmer
- Remove the onion and toast the bread in the oven until crisp, about 5 minutes
- Divide the onion among two oven-proof bowls and ladle the stock over
- Top each portion with 1-2 pieces of toast and half the cheese
- Heat the broiler
- Broil the soup until browned and bubbly, about 5 minutes
Notes: For a lower fat version, omit the bread and cheese, and puree the soup. Whisk in a little butter to finish. Adapted from Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells.
More classic French bistro recipes from other blogs…
- Croque Monsieur Ham and Chese Sandwich from Simply Recipes
- Chicken with Mustard Sauce from Petit Pois
- Hangar Steak with Shallots from Lunch for Two