This is a quick and delicious onion soup that doesn’t require any special ingredients. Use leftover chicken and you can have lunch or dinner made in about 20 minutes, without having to stand at the stove. The rich chicken broth and smooth, creamy cheddar is comfort food at its best, while the caramelized onions satisfy any French onion soup lover.
I whipped this up the first time for my husband while I was preparing to go on my first “girl’s night out” after having my now, 8-month-old baby boy. I didn’t realized how much a baby would change my life! Now that he’s crawling, my windows of “me time” have shrunk once again. Until lately, I was able to count on him taking a 2-3 hour morning nap, with another 1-2 hours in the afternoon. Now, I’m lucky if he sleeps 30 minutes. Instead of sleeping during the day, he has never-ending energy, wanting to crawl or climb on everything he can.
One meal that saves me time is a baked chicken. I try to cook one once a week. It’s easy to prepare, tastes incredible, and results in 10-12 meals for the three of us – plus leftovers for the dogs. The reason I get so much out of my baked chickens is because I save the bones and use them to make broth for soups. Add chopped chicken breast to the broth with whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand and you end up with a fresh, homemade soup that will wow anyone.
For this soup, the only fresh veggies I had left (time to shop!) were Vidalia onions. These onions have a high sugar content, making them the perfect choice for slow caramelizing. Any onion will do, though. Just chop them up and toss them in a pan with some olive oil. When they start to sizzle, turn the heat to low and let them slowly cook, turning them every now and then. You’ll see them shrink up and start to turn golden brown as the sugars and flavor are concentrated. When they are almost done, toss in your chopped garlic, keeping the heat low.
In a deep pot, heat the butter until melted. Add the flour and stir until bubbly, about 10 minutes. Stir the chicken broth into the butter/flour mixture and bring to a boil.
Now add your chopped chicken and caramelized onions to the broth. Cook for a few minutes and remove from the heat.
Add about ¼ cup of cream to the soup. You can substitute plain yogurt thinned with milk here if you wish. Finally, stir in the shredded cheese and parsley. Season with salt and fresh pepper.
I’ve been making an effort to cook eggplant more often. It’s one of those vegetables too often relegated to a single dish: Eggplant Parmesan.
Lately, in an effort to make eggplant my friend, I buy one every time I hit the market. The organic ones on my grocery shelf come wrapped in plastic. It helps them keep longer, and relieves me of the pressure to eat them quickly like tomatoes or spinach. This makes them friendlier, but I’m still wary of that “bitterness” people describe. Each time, I diligently salt and sweat my eggplant to remove this bitterness, but someday I just may try preparing it without.
Don’t let this extra step deter you from cooking eggplant more often. It is really easy to prepare and has a delicious texture when cooked – similar to mushrooms.
I used a jar of organic pasta sauce in this recipe to make it super easy and added fresh baby spinach to pump up the nutrition and flavor. You can also make your own sauce using canned or fresh tomatoes, just adjust the seasoning to taste.
First, cut your eggplant into large slices the long way, about 1 inch thick. Lay them on paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt on both sides. Allow to “sweat” for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Rinse the salt from the eggplant and cut into chunks. In a bowl, toss the eggplant salt, pepper and a generous swig of olive oil. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes.
While the eggplant is cooking, sauté onion in olive oil until soft. Add garlic and chili flakes. Add tomato sauce and season to taste.
While your sauce is simmering, bring your pasta water to a boil. Season the water with salt and cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and toss it while it’s still hot with the tomato sauce. Now toss in your baked eggplant, spinach and basil. Serve topped with crumbles of Parmesan cheese.