Onion soup without the traditional richness, heartiness, cheesiness
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled, halved through root, and sliced thin
5 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), washed thoroughly and sliced thin crosswise (about 3 cups)
1 cup minced scallions (white parts only)
1/2 cup minced shallots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
7 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or a combination of both)
1/2 cup dry vermouth
1/2 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons Calvados or applejack
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
8 ounces soft mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet, at room temperature
1/2 cup snipped fresh chives or finely sliced scallion greens
freshly ground pepper to taste
8 slices French bread, each about 3/4 inch thick
1. Melt butter in a large, heavy Dutch oven over moderately high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in leeks, scallions, shallots, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the ginger, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in flour, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
2. Stir in stock (or stocks) and heat to boiling. Reduce heat, and cook at a bare simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Stir in vermouth, cider, Calvados (or applejack), lemon juice, and remaining 1 teaspoon ginger. Simmer for 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
3. Preheat broiler. Stir together goat cheese and 1/4 cup of the chives in a small bowl. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Toast the bread on both sides under a preheated broiler about 4 inches from the heat until golden brown. Spread one side of each slice of bread with the goat cheese mixture, and toast again under broiler until cheese is lightly browned. Ladle soup into 8 bowls, and place a goat cheese croûte in the center of each bowl. Sprinkle soup and croûtes with remaining chives, and serve immediately.
Perhaps you want an onion soup without the traditional richness, heartiness, cheesiness -- but one still deep in flavor. This is your solution. It's a much lighter soup, green-yellow in color, with perfect balance and an intriguing whiff of something extra (which turns out to be ginger). Think of the onions, leeks, shallots, scallions, garlic, and chives in this soup as the lilies of the kitchen; they are all from the lily family. Serves 8