Recipe: Oktyabr’s Spanish Onion Soup July 2, 2010Posted by oktyabr in food, personal, recipes.
If you like the taste of onions this one is sure to please. Those having it for the first time are pleasantly surprised at how a great soup becomes creamy and rich as the melting cheese is stirred into the broth!
It’s named for the variety of onion, not the nationality of the dish. I actually learned it from my Grand Mother and I’m not sure where she learned it but I’ve made it from memory for several decades now. Most people I have taught this recipe to have added it to their “best” collection as well. Super simple and easy to make, cheap too, and like most of my favorite recipes this one just begs to be tweaked and tinkered with! Don’t be afraid to change things around and make this recipe truly your own! Doesn’t really matter how much or what seasonings you use… The onions and cheese are the stars of this show!
In a single paragraph (quick and dirty method): Heat up a large pot with some butter and/or olive oil in the bottom, toss in some garlic. Slice up enough onions to mostly fill the pot at least half way, add a few chopped tomatoes, maybe some sliced bell pepper too. Cover with beef, chicken and/or vegetable broth or water with bouillon cubes/powder in it instead. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, a little cumin, a bit of hot pepper or pepper sauce, and a splash of wine and/or beer. Bring to mild boil, stir occasionally. Cook until onions are tender. Serve by dishing up the soup in bowls lined with plenty of sliced cheese (Pepper Jack is best!). Bonus points if you can make this work with bread bowls. Enjoy.
Needed: Large (4 quart minimum, 8 is better) pot with lid, sharp knife.
-5 lbs “Spanish” onions, yellow or white, peeled and sliced into rings 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick. You can substitute if needed. Go with standard yellow or white onion, mix them up if you like. Avoid red or purple as the color will cook out and make the entire soup look strange! Also avoid the “sweet” variety of onions which loose all their flavor very quickly when cooked. If you use onions for other things just buy a big bag of onions. If not then buy at least five large onions.
-2lbs tomatoes, rinsed, cored and chopped into large pieces. Romas work well, look for under ripe or even green tomatoes to give this dish some extra tang! Red tomatoes for color.
-1 or 2 sweet bell peppers, any color, rinsed, halved, cored and seeded, sliced into very thin strips.
-1lb cheese, sliced thin. Pepper Jack is my personal favorite but I’ve made this dish with mild cheddar, etc. as well. Reserve the cheese for serving with the soup.
-2 cups beef and/or chicken broth or bouillon
-1 cup white wine, doesn’t matter which one… my rule: Don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t drink! (I’ve substituted a can of beer here too when I was out of wine. It works!)
-1/4 cup fresh cilantro, rinsed and finely chopped (one “bunch” from the store will do) *optional! Not everyone likes cilantro! Can substitute 1/2 tsp ground coriander seed too although it won’t taste quite the same.
-1 large jalapeno pepper, rinsed and carefully cored and deseeded, chopped fine. Can substitute any pepper here, some ground cayenne pepper, even hot sauce if you like. If you aren’t used to cooking with hot peppers be very careful both in preparation and how much you use. It’s easy to ad a bit more if it isn’t hot enough… almost impossible to cool down if it’s too spicy! I’ll commonly SKIP the pepper part entirely depending on who I’m serving it too but then try and use “Pepper Jack” cheese to add at least a mild heat to the dish.
-4 cloves fresh garlic, crushed. I always say “No such thing as too much, when cooking with garlic!”
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil Premium, premium, or premium! Don’t skimp and use cheap olive oil *ever*, there IS a huge difference that often is even more apparent when cooked. Doesn’t have to be expensive but try to stay with a reputable brand and always “Extra Virgin”! I won’t use an olive oil that I can’t dip a bite of bread into.
-1/4 lb (one stick) butter*- optional
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1/2 tsp paprika
-1 TBsp kosher salt (extra to taste)
-1 tsp fresh ground pepper (extra to taste) This WILL add heat to the dish!
2 cups toasted croutons or pre-baked french or garlic bread, cubed, for garnish. Bread bowls or sour dough “cannon balls” lightly hollowed out and toasted under a broiler (with the innards) will supply plenty of “croutons” for garnish too.
Put butter and olive oil in pot on medium high heat. Brown garlic and as much of the sliced onion as you can easily manage until brown and soft. Don’t worry about browning all of the onion, the browning just adds extra flavor.
Deglaze the pot with the wine, stir loosen up the onions and garlic. Add the rest of the vegetables and seasoning, cover with broth, add a little water if necessary. Stir to incorporate, bring to medium boil, reduce heat and cover for 1/2 hour.
Uncover and stir. Taste soup, add additional seasoning if needed. Soup is done when all the onions and bell pepper is tender.
Take a large bowl and lay some thin sliced cheese on the bottom and perhaps half way up the sides of the bowl. Ladle hot soup over cheese. Garnish with croutons or bread. Try serving in bread bowls for a special treat. Works especially well with sour dough “cannon balls”, lightly hollowed out and toasted for a few minutes under a broiler!