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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Midweek Grilling

Celebrating Chef George's 24th Anniversary on PBS

Join me & Tune-in CreateTV GHL Sunday May 6th 8:30AM EST

The companion cookbook to the origional outdoor cooking TV series

The companion cookbook to the origional outdoor cooking TV series

Let's get the fire started-- 

You are going to need cedar planks for today's fish recipe. Soak planks for 30 minutes before you fire up the grill. Make sure the grill is good and hot, this is key! Cedar planked fish takes on a wonderful smokey flavor with more flair and a lot less hassle. The plank will be charred, but the fish will be perfectly cooked. This technique of cooking on planks is not new. Developed by Indians in the Pacific Northwest, cooking on cedar and alder has been a tradition for centuries. 

Pick up some cedar planks at your local hardware store. Oh, please be sure they are untreated non-resined wood, no thicker than 1 inch. Cedar and alder are popular choices, but mesquite, cherry, peach, apple, and oak also add their own unique flavors. Enjoy!

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Cedar Plank Fish

makes two servings

chefgeorgehirsch.comGeorge Hirsch Lifestyle

1 cedar plank

Two 10-ounce salmon, trout or halibut fillets

juice of one fresh lemon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons olive oil

Fresh ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons butter

Soak plank in water to cover 1 hour; drain.

Pre heat Grill to high.

Rub plank with one tablespoon olive oil. Place fillets on plank; season with pepper, parsley, syrup and lemon juice. Top with remaining olive oil.

Grill 10-14 minutes or until fish is cooked. The thickness of the fillets will determine final cooking time.

Prior to serving top with fresh butter and serve with extra fresh lemon slices.

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KYFF, Charred

The nice part about this recipe is that any vegetable will go well with the grilled shrimp. Use what you have on hand. Mushrooms are OK, asparagus is good, alright - anything you have is great!

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Grilled Shrimp & Vegetable Salad 

recipes by George Hirsch | Makes four servings 

From George Hirsch Living it UP! TV Series

16 large shrimp, peeled and devein

Marinade for Shrimp:

2 tablespoons Olive oil

Juice from one lemon

2 teaspoons lite-soy sauce

1 Tablespoon honey

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 Tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

Mix all ingredients for shrimp marinade and pour over shrimp.  

For the vegetables:

2 green squash, split and grilled 

2 large tomatoes, split and grilled

1 large sweet onion, cut into 4 pieces and grilled

4 Tablespoons olive oil 

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

juice of one lemon  

pinch sea salt

fresh ground black pepper 

Mix lemon, oil, thyme, pepper and salt with vegetables. 

Pre heat grill to a very high heat.

Grill vegetables on high heat until light brown and vegetables are tender.

Two minutes before vegetables are done place shrimp on grill.

Cook shrimp on hot grill and cook two minutes on each side, turning once. Baste the shrimp with any remaining marinade. Do not over cook.  Pink means done. Remove shrimp from grill and serve with grilled vegetables.

From George Hirsch Living it UP! TV Series

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Open Fire Greek Style

"My art is a smoke-blackened empire" 
Quote; Athenaeus, Greek scholar c.200 A.D.

My travels to Greece have inspired this recipe. Usually the Greek custom is for a whole lamb to be prepared, but for ease of cooking I substituted a leg of lamb in lieu of the traditional whole lamb. Tried and true - this open fire spit recipe is always a crowd pleaser and was also one of the most requested dishes at my restaurant, and my TV crew loved it too. The fire-smoke combo flavors the meat while it slowly caramelizes on the spit. I know your guests will enjoy it as much as mine. Just use caution – your guests may get so into the mood, they will want to dance on tables and break plates. Opa, happy Friday! 

Grilled Greek Leg of Lamb  
makes 10-12 servings | recipe by George Hirsch

From Gather ‘round the Grill cookbook 1995, by Chef George Hirsch with Marie Bianco & From George Hirsch Living it UP! TV series

5-6 pound boneless leg of lamb, split
2 cups fresh spinach, cleaned
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
8 fresh mint leaves
1 head garlic, peeled
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt

Place fresh spinach, garlic, oregano, mint leaves, and pepper in a food processor or blender. Blend until leaves are small, add lemon juice and vinegar. Blend one minute or just until all ingredients are well mixed.  Place lamb in a large bowl, pour marinade over the lamb, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 2 days ahead of cooking; turning lamb twice a day.

Pre heat grill to high.   

Remove lamb from marinade, dry the surface of the meat with paper towels, sprinkle with sea salt and secure with butcher twine on a metal spit. Place leg of lamb with spit on an indirect heat on a gas or charcoal grill for 30-40 minutes, until the entire surface is nicely brown.  Use caution when grilling to cook on an indirect heat to avoid flare ups.  

Place marinade in a large braising pan (as wide as lamb) and bring up to a rapid boil.  When meat is brown, place braising pan with reduce marinade on grill under meat to catch juices dripping from roast. Cover grill and lower temperature of grill to low. Brush lamb with drippings every 5-10 minutes. 

Cooking the lamb roast on a spit low and slow keeps the meat tender and juicy, as the moisture is not forced out of the roast. I cook my lamb well done; more in the style of a braised lamb dish for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until lamb is fork tender. However, if you prefer your lamb medium-rare, after browning roast cook about one hour on low temperature or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145 degrees. 

When meat is cooked remove to a serving platter, cover with foil and allow to rest for thirty minutes prior to removing from spit and carving.  While meat is resting bring juices in braising pan to a boil and reduce the juices until it is all homogenized, pour juice over sliced lamb.

Serve with Greek Salad, warm pita bread and Tzatziki.

Roman Style

Yes, it’s spring which means it’s time for Carciofi alla Romana- perfect time for artichokes Roman style. The key is freshness. That’s why in Italy - Rome especially you will only find artichokes in the market now and in the fall. So the lesson here is if they are fresh, they will be moist on the stem end. 

This is a dish to share with someone special. Get rid of your knives and forks and start the evening with finger food - making it all the more full of amore!

Garlic Artichokes

From George Hirsch Living it UP! TV series

chefgeorgehirsch.com | Makes 4 servings

4 Large Artichokes 
1 lemon, cut in half
1/4 cup mint leaves washed, dried and chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
Fresh ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes, *optional

Wash artichokes; remove outer leaves until pale yellow leaves are exposed. 

Cut off top two inches and stems so artichokes will sit upright. 

Remove fuzzy centers (choke) with the edge of a soup spoon and rub all surfaces with half of a lemon. Add juice of remaining lemon to water and dip artichokes to preserve green color. 

Mix mint, garlic, pepper, with wine, 1/2 cup olive oil and spoon into hollows of artichokes. Place in a pan just large enough to hold them upright. Add water to depth of three inches and remaining olive. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes or until just tender. Check by either pulling off a bottom leaf with ease or inserting small knife through bottom and it slides out with ease. Cooking will vary with size of artichokes. 

Remove artichokes, drain, cover and keep warm. Reduce cooking liquid until a syrupy consistency, add optional hot pepper flakes. Spoon sauce over artichokes and serve.

Artichokes may also be stuffed with vegetables, sausage and bread stuffing and baked in a 325 degree F oven for 45-60 minutes.