There's a Sop in My Soup

Of course there is - what would a French onion soup be without a toasted crouton, aka a sop? Sops are used for soaking up a warm liquid, broth or wine, and was the term used in days of yore. I guess it was only natural that the word soup derived from sop. 

The mixture of these five onions gives a nice character to the soup. But, no sweat if you have less than five, just use a sweet onion such as OSO which I found this week at the market and you'll have a tasty version. The so called bar of success in making an onion soup is all the slow cooking and gradual 'caramelizing' of the onions. The natural sweetness from the onions adds the rich robust flavor and golden brown color, the prize in this soup. 

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CREAMY FIVE ONION SOUP

Makes 6-8 servings

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

This easy to prepare hearty soup for a cool night makes for a wonderful dinner or rustic appetizer. 

2 Tablespoons olive oil 

2 each sweet onions*, chopped 

3 cloves garlic, chopped 

6 each Chipolini onions, chopped 

1 each red onion, chopped 

1 green onion, chopped 

1 Tablespoon flour 

1/2 cup tomato sauce 

2 teaspoons dried thyme 

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 cup white wine

1/2 cup potatoes, peeled and chopped 

2 cups chicken broth 

2 cups beef broth 

Optional:

1/2 cup half and half

French bread croutons

Parmesan, Emmental, or Gruyere cheese

Pre heat a large soup or saucepot to a medium heat. Add olive oil, sweet onions, garlic, chipolini onions, red onion and green onion. Cook for 10 minutes without stirring until you begin to see the onions in the bottom of the pot begin to brown, Stir, and allow the onions to continue to further brown. Stir and allow onions to cook for an additional five minutes. Total cooking time of onions will be about 20 minutes or more.

Season with thyme, bay leaves, pepper, add tomato sauce, flour and stir. Add white wine and cook for 5 minutes or until dry. Add chicken broth, beef broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer, cover and cook about 30 minutes. 

Remove bay leaves then, puree one half of soup in blender or food processor.

Return pureed soup back to soup pot. Bring soup back to a boil; reduce temperature down to a simmer. Add optional half and half. Serve with a toasted French bread crouton, top with grated Parmesan and melt Emmental or Gruyere cheese. 

*Note on onions: Soup may be made with any type sweet onions and garlic only. Or, you may use addition of any onion family such as leeks, chives, etc. 

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Glühwein Recipe

Join me + Tune-in George Hirsch Lifestyle CreateTV Sat Dec 29th 6AM/6PM + Sun Dec 30th 12:30PM

During the Christmas season many German town centers have street markets with stalls selling cookies, arts and crafts, wooden toys and other festive items. Almost every street corner seems to boast Bratwurst and Glühwein stalls. Light a roaring fire and pour yourself a small glass of warm, spicy red wine. Below is a basic recipe, but in Germany vendors will offer you additional flavorings such as elderberry cordial or a shot of dark rum. At home, spike it too, if you choose.

Heat your Glühwein in a large saucepan on the stove or in a large jug in the microwave, but don't let it boil or the alcohol will evaporate. If you want a less alcoholic drink, then mix in apple juice or water.

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Glühwein Recipe

Chef George Hirsch | Makes 6 servings

1 bottle full-bodied red wine

1 small lemon

6 orange slices

10 cloves

3 cinnamon sticks

4-6 Tablespoons sugar

3 ounces brandy

Preparation

Pour the wine into a large saucepan. Cut the lemon in quarters. Stick the cloves into the rind of one quarter. Slice the rest thinly. Add the lemon quarter and orange slices to the pan with the cinnamon and sugar. Heat slowly until hot, but do not allow to boil. Add brandy and serve in heatproof glasses or small cups Place a metal teaspoon in the glass before adding the hot liquid to prevent glass from breaking.

13 EPISODES on 4 HD-DVD Disk Set
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Hot Out of The Oven Biscuits

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

Tune-in GHL CreateTV Sat Sept 29th 6:30AM/6:30PM Sun Sept 30th 12:30PM 

Forget the version from the tube, who doesn't like fresh homemade hot biscuits straight out of the oven? Great for breakfast, lunch, tea or with a hot dinner soup and my Oven Fried Garlic Chicken.

Tips for the best biscuits:

Make sure the butter and the milk are very cold and be sure not to over mix the dough. It's important to use a sharp cutter; the sharper the cutter, the cleaner the cut, the higher the biscuits will rise.

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George Hirsch's Biscuits

Makes one dozen

chefgeorgehirsch.com | George Hirsch Lifestyle

2 cups sifted all purpose flour 

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoons salt 

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 

2 teaspoons sugar 

1/2 cup butter 

2/3 cup  milk

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees

Sift dry ingredients, blend butter with dry ingredients using a pastry blender or a knife & fork. Add milk & mix well. Knead dough 2 minutes. Roll out dough and cut out biscuits. At this point you can store the cut out biscuit dough in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them.

Bake on a ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes. Baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the biscuits.

Serve immediately warm from the oven with butter or honey or both.  

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At the Waldorf

This is one of the sides that brings me right back to my humble days of early chef-dom - a very classical and very good Waldorf Salad.

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Waldorf-Astoria Hotel c1899

A bit behind the salad history: Oscar Tschirky, who was maître d’hôtel at the Waldorf Hotel in NYC is credited with creating this recipe in the 1890’s, as well as many other recipes. Veal Oscar anyone? I'll save that for another post.

The Waldorf Salad is simply apples, celery and mayonnaise served on a lettuce leaf. But, that’s where it all begins. Walnuts became a common addition years later, as did grapes, other dried fruit such raisins, apricots and sultana. My friend Tony even opted to add the fore mentioned and cut the mayo with good Greek yogurt; which is very refreshing and lighter than all mayo or a combo mayo & unsweetened whipped cream. 

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Things have changed since the 1890s, so go ahead and put your own spin on the Waldorf, Oscar won’t mind. Use culinary license, prepare it with apples and toasted nuts; cut the mayo, even sub with today’s olive oil mayo, which I prefer. Serve some grilled chicken or shrimp on the side and you are talking a healthy main dish. 

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