Foodie Friday

I’ve never been a big meater-eater…except for my addiction to fast food burgers. Really that addiction arose more from convenience than taste. I used to spend a lot of time in my car, and it’s really tough to eat a salad while you drive. I’ve always disliked handling raw meat, and I’ve always had trouble choking down any meat product that still looked like it did when it was alive. Thus Thanksgiving turkey was never a treat. I never ate the legs or thighs, just breast meat carefully sliced off the bone before it touched my plate. Fried chicken makes me wince. Forget about fish on the bone.

So last summer I took the plunge went vegetarian. Not vegan…yet…just vegetarian. I did so for 3 reasons. I won’t try to sway you with the research behind the three reasons–my point here is not to convert the world to vegetarianism…just to explain why I made the vegetarian choice.

1) The sodium, antibiotics, hormones, etc. that are fed to our meat animals or injected into them and then pass into our bodies
2) The impact of “factory farming” on our environment (the research here is shocking!)
3) The horrid lives and deaths our factory-farmed animals are forced to endure

So it’s been an adjustment, even for someone who didn’t eat tons of meat, to find healthy recipes that provide enough protein and still taste good. Over this year on “Foodie Friday” I’ll let you know how the lifestyle change is going — when I cheat, if I cheat. I’ll post recipes when I find a good one.

Here is today’s recipe. This is simple enough that it’s hard to mess up and fancy enough to serve when company’s coming. It’s a clone of the French onion soup served at the restaurant “Panera’s” and is said to be their most often requested recipe. It can be made in the crockpot or stovetop.

I had a nice picture of how pretty it looks when it’s all done and in individual serving bowls…but silly me deleted the pic from my camera before I downloaded it to the PC.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter
8 cups sliced white onions (4 to 5 medium onions)
2 14 oz. cans beef broth (I use vegetable broth because I’m vegetarian and it still is good!)
3/4 cup chicken broth (and, I just stuck with the vegetable and couldn’t taste the difference)
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 and 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
couple drops Tabasco pepper sauce
8 slices crusty French bread, or 8 handfuls of croutons
shaved or grated cheese for topping – Asiago, Gruyere, Paremesan/Asiago…whatever you like

Directions:

1) Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and saute for 15-20 minutes until the onions turn brown. NOTE: Be careful not to scorch the onions with too high heat. If they get black, it will give the soup a nasty burned taste (don’t ask how I know this. 🙂  )

2) Pour all other ingredients except the bread and cheese into the slow cooker. Add the browned onions. Heat on low for 4-5 hours NOTE: If cooking on stovetop instead of slow cooker, add an additional cup of water and simmer on low boil for 20 minutes.

3)  Pour serving of soup into oven-safe ramekins. Don’t fill quite to top. Place a slice of French Bread on top of soup in each bowl and cover with thinly sliced or grated cheese. Heat oven to Broil. Place all ramekins on a baking sheet and heat them on broil until edges of bread are crusty and cheese is melted/bubbling. Serve piping hot.

Enjoy — this one is really yummy!

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