“Workout Onion Soup” and other cooking

Not bad; out of three new recipes this week, one was just OK and two were successes that I’ll make again.

On Saturday, I made what purported to be a Dutch hutspot recipe. It wasn’t really, just a beef stew – the potatoes were in chunks instead of mashed as in traditional hutspot. I think I’m going to give up on beef stew at least until we return to the US, because I don’t get very good results with the beef here. I’ll stick to making goulash – in that, the beef cooks entirely in liquid so it tenderizes better. Also, there are a lot of tomatoes and some tomato paste, and I think their acid helps. The vegetables were good in this, though – the main thing I learned is that I do like parsnips. (I don’t think the Brussels sprouts added much, though.)

Red beans and rice were more or less from this recipe. I used brown beans instead of red because that’s what the supermarket had, and a mix of Dutch rookworst and Spanish cervelaat for similar reasons, and those worked well. The one change I’d make is to use less water next time.

Today I unvented Workout Onion Soup. The perfect time to make this is on a winter Monday or Tuesday, when you made a big meal over the weekend, and you’re not sure if the leftovers are enough for another meal. (Actually, I knew mine were enough; I just felt like making onion soup.) Also. you still have some of the French bread left that you bought to have with the weekend meal and it’s getting stale. In other words, today.

Recipe (about two hefty portions or 3-4 smaller ones):
Heat up about a liter of beef broth (I used bouillon cubes; if you are the sort of cook who always has homemade broth on hand, or if you live in a country where you can buy boxes of organic broth that taste better and have lower salt, of course you should use those. Chop up and add a medium onion and whatever else you want – I added two chopped shallots and some parsley. Season; I used salt, pepper, basil, thyme and some Hungarian spicy paprika. A dollop of wine might have been a good idea, but I didn’t have any open.

Go work out – at a minimum, a half-hour workout plus a shower. This is how you time the recipe. (I just erged 5 km.)

Come back to the kitchen, cut up slices of that French bread, and toast them. Slice or grate a hell of a lot of cheese – I used a cheese slicer to get thin but larger slivers, instead of a grater. (I used a mixture of Dutch belegen kaas (medium-young) and some sharper cheese we got in Spain, as usual because that’s what I had. They weren’t quite the right thing, but they weren’t bad, and the Dutch stuff is what we usually have on hand. Put the bread into oven-safe soup bowls. Ladle in the soup, including plenty of onion bits. Add the cheese, letting it sit on top of the bread, and put the bowls of soup under the broiler for just a minute or two to melt the cheese.

I’ve never made onion soup before, and I was working without a recipe. Fancier recipes insist on Gruyere and on caramelizing the onions. Some mozzarella might mix well with it too, though I think all mozzarella would be too greasy. Still, the cheese wasn’t too bad, and the onions tasted fine despite just being tossed in raw. This is very definitely weekday use-what-you-got cooking, and it’s filling, comforting and tasty. I will definitely make it on hand – though if I know in advance I’ll be making it I might explore my local cheese options. (Which are excellent, this being the Land of Many Cheeses.)

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