Hot Soup vs. Cold Soups, Part I


In cold weather, obviously, the majority vote  would be for hot soup to warm you up. That’s logical. In hot countries, logic demands cold soups, and this happens in Greece with a cucumber and yogurt soup. But in some hot countries I’ve lived in or visited, hot soup would be favored. “It  helps you sweat,” they say, “and the slightest breeze, even walking around, will give you evaporative cooling.”

A favorite of mine and my son Steve’s is French Onion Soup–not the practically nutrient-free soup that comes in a box labeled French Onion Soup, but the full-bodied high-protein soup we remember from living, and eating well, in France.  On cool days we make soup for lunch. On hot days we either make seviche, a cold fish dish, or warm leftover soup in the microwave. On really, really hot days we just take a jar of leftover soup or the basis of one from the fridge or freezer.  On a recent cool, cloudy day  I made a big kettle of hearty French onion soup based on bone broth. We’re ready for the 90 degree days forecast for the weekend.

BONE BROTH: I save up bones from pork chops, lamb steaks, beef ribs, ect., in my freezer in  a plastic bag labeled Bones for Broth. When the bag has bones enough to nearly fill a 6-cup saucepan, I make bone broth. If you are not going to use it right away, remove the bones and boil the broth down to about a cupful, decant into a jar, cool it, and cap it. Keep it in the freezer until you need it for soup or sauce. Replace the liquid you boiled away to save freezer space.

There are probably as many versions of onion soup in France as there are French cooks.  Sometimes  their onion soups have milk in them. Sometimes they’re pureed. Sometimes they employ leeks and become Potage au Poireau. They may be based on chicken broth, beef broth, or–as in my case–bone broth.   Always, they are simple, easy to make, delicious and inexpensive.

Real French Onion Soup
4 to 6 servings

2 Tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
1 large yellow onion, slivered
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 to 5 cups bone broth, chicken broth or beef broth
1 teaspoon dried and  crumbled or 1 tablespoon fresh slivered oregano
1 teaspoon dried and crumbled or 1 Tablespoon fresh slivered marjoram
1 small knob ginger, optional secret ingredient
Salt and pepper to taste
4 to 6 slices toasted Bavarian rye bread or 4 to 6 slices from a grand baguette, toasted
Grated gruyere or cheddar cheese

In a 6-cup saucepan or kettle, heat the oil until a drop of water dripped into the vessel hops and vanishes. Add the onions. Stir-fry until shiny and somewhat wilted. Add  garlic slices. Stir-cook 5 minutes. Add the herbs. Stir  Add the broth. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and cook gently until onion is transparent. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
While onion cooks, make a slice of toast for each soup bowl and grate cheese. Ladle soup into bowls, removing the ginger knob when you find it. Float a slice of toast on each bowl of soup. Top the toast with grated cheese. Give each bowl a half minute in your microwave to melt the cheese.