Thursday, March 15, 2007

Onion Soup

One of the best dishes I ever made, probably the best one, was French onion soup. When we first moved to Fredericton, we joined the university gourmet group and were members for several years. Once for our final meal of the year I made onion soup for sixteen people. A departing faculty member had given me a huge black iron pot that had belonged to the US Army. Every once in a while, even now, someone will mention the soup. Some people said it was the single best thing they ever tasted. I have never made it again. I used an Escoffier book and a Larousse cookbook. Escoffier recommended first roasting the bones for the stock, several kinds, beef of course, and I think lamb and veal. Some vegetables were roasted too. The resulting stock was so subtle that I can’t even bring it to my memory; I only remember its reputation.

I was thinking of that soup this morning because tonight we will have chicken soup with stock from the bones of the roast chicken we had several nights ago. My cooking has gradually lost its luster. I rarely cook any more for someone who loves food. I love food, but cooking just for myself is too much work. Fredericton has never had good restaurants. I don’t know why that is. We go to one and it is good, and six months later we go back and it is mediocre. Bill loves Italian food, but there has never been a good one here. An Indian restaurant opened here a year or so ago. I was delighted. It was ridiculously expensive and lousy. I didn’t think it was possible to make lousy Indian food. All the effort had gone into the ambience.


Joseph Duemer said...

Roasting the bones makes all the difference. I roast a chicken pretty much every week & I usually butterfly it & cook it on a flat rack, cutting out the backbone, which I also roast, then use for stock. In fact, tomorrow I'm going to make an Irish-style stew using such stock for St. Patrick's day.

Zhoen said...

I was never much of a cook, nor was my mother. It's a chore most of the time. But once in a while, I get good ingredients and a lot of spices, and a menu order or a recipe inspires me to make a dish. Then it is usually a delight.

Oh, by the way, moving back to Salt Lake City, Ut, where D is from, and where I lived 18 years. An odd place, but oddly, home.

Nancy Ruth said...

I must try that trick of butterflying a chicken. And Zhoen, three times lately I have heard people say that they didn't like Boston. My dad worked for the Boston Globe for 35 years and going to Boston for us was huge excitement. I wonder what has changed.