Some years ago, I visited Paris, ate a delicious version of the soup, and vowed to reproduce it when I arrived back home. Unfortunately, procrastination won. I didn’t have the right bowls. I couldn’t find the right cheese. The camera was out of battery. You know how it goes.
When I finally created the courage to make it (and let go of some details), I realized it was quite easy – all it really takes is patience. I basically followed Julia Child‘s recipe (and in this wonderful video, she also teaches how to sharpen knives! <3), but then I procrastinated again, and it took me over a month to write this recipe! 😀
For six “civilized-people” portions (a.k.a., Sky and I ate well over half for dinner), you will need:
5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
3 Tbsp butter – I totally eyeballed that.
1 Tbsp olive oil – yep, I eyeballed that one too.
1 tsp salt – this I measured! 😀
3 Tbsp flour
2 L beef stock – Deb suggests mushroom stock for a vegetarian version
1 cup white wine – in the video, she uses red wine, but most recipes I have read call for white wine, so that’s what I did.
3 Tbsp cognac – I skipped it.
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper
To serve (technically, this is optional, but it really isn’t):
6 ovenproof bowls
6 slices of bread – I used large slices of Italian bread, but next time I’ll use baguette slices, as it will be easier to eat… 😀
1-2 cups of coarsely shredded gruyère – as I don’t really like gruyère, I used an Uruguayan cheese that melts easily (colonia) and parmesan. And yes, I used plenty!
Start by slicing the onions as thinly as you can. Here, I needed about six medium-sized onions to get five cups. In a big, thick-bottomed pan, melt the butter and the olive oil. Place the onions, and toss to coat them in oil. On the lowest heat, cover the pan and let the onions cook for about 15 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn up the heat a little bit, and add the salt. The original recipe also called for a pinch of sugar, but I totally forgot about it. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often, until all the onions are brown − don’t be lazy about it: that caramelization is what is going to make your soup tasty! Sprinkle the flour over the caramelized onions and stir for about three minutes. Add the wine and the stock slowly, stirring continuously (and don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the pan!)
Season with pepper and salt (unless you’re using salted stock). I resisted the urge to add paprika! Simmer over medium heat, cover the pan and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. If you’re using cognac, now is time to add it.
You can serve as it is and it will be great, but really, the best thing to do is broil it! Toast the bread slices and then butter them – once in hell, hug the devil! Divide the soup into six ovenproof bowls. In each of them, add one piece of toast (again, next time I’ll use a baguette; the smaller slices will be easier to handle!) and cover the bowl with a generous layer of cheese.
Bake the soups on a tray for about 20 minutes − I used the toaster oven, with heat coming from top and bottom, but you can be normal and just use your broiler to make it nice and golden. Dig in!
As it is almost tradition, the cold July weather calls for Soup Tertulias!
I love peas. LOVE. The ones that come in a can! (Pause for the “ewww!” faces). I’ll eat fresh peas, but I never find them to be as good as the canned ones… #freakalert But I had never tried split peas. Coming to think of it, I don’t think I had even seen split peas at the supermarket, but that is probably because Sky is the one who does the shopping, I only write the list! 😀
When I saw this recipe by Rita Lobo, which also called for bacon, I was sold! If you’re vegan/vegetarian, there’s no need to stop reading: follow Chef John’s tip and use shiitake mushrooms instead! If you’re omnivore, stop making that face, it’s a legitimate suggestion! 😀
The most entertaining part of the recipe was the side – instead of croutons or dinner rolls, popcorn! I was a bit skeptical, but it was pretty tasty!
For a relatively small soup, you’ll need:
250 g bacon, in cubes – the recipe called for only 100 g, hahahaha! As I said before, to veganize this recipe, you can use shiitake mushrooms!
1 medium-size onion, chopped
500 g split peas, soaked for 4 hours
1 bay leaf
2 L meat stock or vegetable stock, preferably homemade!
salt, pepper, and paprika
There is a very basic rule in cooking, which is to read the entire recipe before starting to cook. Everyone knows that. BASIC thing. Of course I didn’t do that and that sucked, because the peas had to soak! I was going to make the soup for lunch, but it had to be left for dinner… 😦
Rinse the peas, place them in a bowl and cover with 1.5 liters of water. Let it soak for at least 4 hours.
After the peas are soaked, drain the water and set aside. In the pan that you’ll cook the soup, cook the bacon, making sure the fat is nice and rendered. If you are using shiitake mushrooms instead, sear them with some olive oil! When the bacon/shiitake is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside.
In the bacon great/olive oil, cook the onion on low heat. When the onion has turned gold and transparent, add the peas and cook them for one minute, just to coat them with the onions. Add the stock, season with one tsp of salt, as well as with some pepper and paprika. Cover the pan and let the stock boil. Cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring every now and then until the peas are soft.
Meanwhile, make the popcorn. Try not to eat it all before the soup is ready (it’s harder than it looks #truestory)
Transfer the soup into the blender. Rita Lobo advices holding the lid of the blender with a dishcloth, to prevent the vapor from opening the lid. Blend well. Another option is to do what I did, and use the immersion blender directly in the pan! 😀
Place the soup back in the pan (if you’re using an immersion blender, just smile and do nothing). Add the bacon/shiitake mushrooms and heat the soup back to boiling point – make sure you taste for salt!
To serve, place the soup in the bowls and only then add the popcorn!
When I moved to Uruguay, one of the things I had to learn was to cook – no one can survive forever on pasta, cake, scrambled eggs, and tuna salad, right? (Seriously, that was basically all I could cook). I started by making simple, but different, things. One of those first recipes was tapenade, this French olive dip.
The recipe I used to make (I can’t remember where I found it!) called for equal amounts of green and black olives, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil. I would simply place everything on the food processor, pulse it, and there: a tasty dip. When I decided that February would be Dip Tertulias, I knew tapenade was going to be one of them. So, I tried to find the “original, authentic, yadda yadda yadda” recipe – but of course I couldn’t find it!
There seem to be a lot of different recipes, each of them adding/omitting an ingredient. Confused, I had to resort to Wikipedia, where I learned that the recipe calls for olives, capers, anchovies, and garlic! I found this recipe on The Guardian and decided to make it – well, adapt it. It was much tastier than the one I used to make!
It doesn’t yield a whole lot, which is fine: it’s pretty strong, so a little goes a long way!
½ cup of pitted black olives
2 Tbsp capers
2 anchovies, drained – we always have some, for Caesar salad dressing… or pizza. 😀
3 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp oregano/thyme – I used ½ Tbsp of each
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Olive oil, salt, and pepper, to taste – I skipped the salt, as the anchovies/capers were salty enough
Not only did I try a “more authentic” recipe, but I also tested the most traditional method: the mortar and pestle!
Coarsely chop the olives, capers, anchovies, and garlic. Place them in the mortar, add the herbs, and crush and grind everything until you get a paste that isn’t too chunky. Add roughly 2 Tbsp olive oil and use the pestle to mix it in. Season with salt and pepper.
OOOOR….. place everything on the food processor, pulsing until you get a somewhat chunky paste! 😀
Looking for a recipe to end the Soup Tertulias, I found one that I had pinned long ago. As it was from Chef John, it was sure to be good, right? So there I went to the grocery store to buy an ingredient I hardly ever use – leeks. There’s no special reason for not using them much, other than pure lack of habit!
But given that I don’t usually cook with leeks, I never have great expectations for the results. So you can imagine my shock when I realized how good this soup was! It was simply the best soup I’ve ever made – and one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten! It immediately gained comfort food status! ❤
To make this soup, you’ll need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
150 g bacon – Chef John used prosciutto, and a lot less than that, but we don’t do “just a little bit of bacon” around here. To veganize this recipe, he suggests using shiitake instead of bacon!
6 leeks – without the leaves
1.5 liters of beef stock – I used the homemade version, concentrated. To veganize the recipe, use homemade veggie stock − or the store bought one…
4 medium-sized potatoes
Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
250 mL heavy cream – to veganize, use soy/rice cream
Chop the leeks into medium-sized bits and rinse them well to remove any little specks of dirt, which is really something we don’t want to taste in our soup…
Heat the olive oil in a thick pot and fry the bacon. When the bacon is halfway cooked, place the leeks and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock, season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and let them soak in water, so they don’t turn brown. After the 30 minutes, add the potatoes to the pot and cook until they are soft – if you think you need more liquid, just add water!
When the potatoes are soft, use the blender (I used the immersion blender) to … blend the soup! Put the soup back in the pot, add the cream and heat it until it starts to boil. Serve immediately, thinking “omg did I just cook that? I’m so amazing, I should be on Masterchef, etc.” 😀 😀 😀
FREEZER: Like most soups, this recipe freezes pretty well. I just placed the cold leftovers in a Ziploc bag! When re-heating, I just used the immersion blender to pulse it a little bit, so it would regain the original texture.
I LOVE lentils. Before, they were a synonym of New Year’s Eve: Grandma would always make lentil rice (with plenty of bacon), saying “Eat it, it’ll bring prosperity in the new year.” Not only were they delicious, but they also brought money?? BRING’EM!
Try as I might, I didn’t become a millionaire by eating lentils – but this is no reason not to make this delicious soup! 🙂
The original recipe called for mushrooms, but I didn’t add them, because I hate them! #truestory #sorrynotsorry BUT they are a great idea to veganize the soup! 🙂
400 g lentils
2 medium onions, thinly chopped
1 large carrots, thinly chopped
150-200 g bacon − the original recipe called for only 50 g, because it also had mushrooms. If you want to veganize the recipe, use them instead of bacon!
1 L water
Salt and pepper – skip the salt if you’re using a bouillon cube!
This is a mystery-free recipe: in a large pan, fry the bacon, the onions, and the carrots. When the bacon is fried, add the lentils, the stock, and the water. Season with salt and pepper (I used a pepper mix).
Cook for approximately one hour, until everything is nice and soft. Then, all you have to do is put the soup on the blender! I bought an immersion blender and I’m in love! MUCH easier to clean than a traditional blender! 😀
When everything is blended, it’s ready to serve!
FREEZER: As most soups, this recipe freezes pretty well. I just placed the cold leftovers in a Ziploc bag! When re-heating, I just used the immersion blender to pulse it a little bit, so it would regain the original texture.