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French Onion Soup
This thick, fragrant soup, invigorating and robust, is thought to have originated in Lyon.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1pound large onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 quarts Beef Stock or Chicken Stock
Freshly ground black pepper
12 slices French bread
1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
Parsley sprigs (optional)
Melt the butter in a heavy 4-quart saucepan. Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 20 minutes, or until they become soft and golden. Sprinkle in flour and stir for 2 minutes. Pour in the stock, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over very low heat for 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Preheat the broiler.
Toast the slices of bread on both sides under the broiler. Divide them among four flameproof soup bowls and sprinkle with the cheese. Pour the soup into the bowls and slide the bowls under the broiler, close to the heat source; broil just long enough to melt and lightly brown the cheese. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley sprigs, if desired.
If just one soup could be labeled the classic Mexican soup, it would probably be this one, combining as it does the traditional flavors and textures of the country's chiles, tomato, avocado, epazote, and tortilla.
3 garlic cloves
1/2 onion, cut into chunks
3 ripe tomatoes
6 cups Chicken Stock
1 tablespoon oil
2 small sprigs epazote
Freshly ground black pepper
8 to 10 day-old corn tortillas
Oil for frying
2 to 3 chiles pasillas
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, andsliced or chopped
1 1/4 cups crumbled queso fresco or feta cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
3 limes, halved
Roast the garlic, onion, and tomatoes (see note). Peel and core the tomatoes and purée in a blender with the garlic and onion, adding 1/4 cup of the chicken stock if necessary.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over high heat and saut6 the tomato purée. Boil for 2 minutes, lower the heat, and cook, stirring constantly, for another 5 minutes or until the purée thickens and changes color.
Add the remaining chicken stock and epazote. Return to a boil, add salt and pepper to taste, and cook, covered, over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Cut the tortillas in half and cut each half into thin strips. Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a small skillet and, when hot, add the tortilla pieces a few at a time and fry, turning at least once, for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oil with a slotted spatula and drain on absorbent paper. (If using fresh tortillas, dry first in a preheated 250ºF oven for 1 hour.)
Cut the chiles into 1/2-inch rings and remove their seeds. Fry in the hot oil for about 1 minute until crisp. Drain and set aside.
Five minutes before serving, reheat the soup and add the fried tortilla strips. Garnish each bowl of soup with a few chile rings and some of the avocado. Sprinkle with the cheese. Pass the cream, lime halves, and the remaining chile rings and avocado in separate bowls so that each person can add them to taste.
Note: Roast the peeled garlic and onion and the unpeeled tomatoes on a griddle over medium-high heat until charred, turning as needed.