I ascended the kitchen stairs and my eyes began to sting. When I arrived at the half door, I saw my mother standing above the cutting board with tears streaming down her face. This could only mean one thing and it was oh so wonderful. Mom was making her French Onion Soup. There are two things my mother cooks better than anyone else: French Onion Soup and moussaka. If you can get a dinner invitation when she makes either of these, someone in the Universe must be happy with you. Over the years, I have tried to no avail to recreate my mother's soup. So this spring when my friend Julie had a baby, I wanted to make her french onion soup. But when I realized I didn't have enough of the spicy, sharp bulbs, I tried something else. The result was quite remarkable. A soup with a completely different flavor profile than French Onion Soup (capitalized out of reverence for the dish). I started with the long-sauteed onions that are the base of the onion soup. From there, the paths of these two recipes diverge.
Charity's American Onion Cauliflower Kale Soup
If you want a slightly different texture and a sweeter flavor, place cauliflower florets in a roasting pan before you begin cooking with some olive oil, thyme, sugar, salt and garlic. Bake until browned and add to soup before serving.
6 medium onions
6 stalks kale
6 large cauliflower curds, broken up into medium pieces
3 cloves garlic
1 large can pale ale*
equal amount apple juice
equal amount vegetable or chicken broth
4 thick pieces crusty, whole wheat bread -- it's best if it's a little stale
2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese
Add equal parts pale ale, apple juice and broth. Let simmer for 35 minutes. Cut kale and cauliflower into slightly bigger than bite sized pieces. Place kale and cauliflower into soup and simmer for 15 more minutes (lid on).
Meanwhile, grate cheddar cheese and turn on broiler (you can also do this part in a toaster oven). Cut up bread into large crouton sized pieces and cover in grated cheese. Put bread with cheese under broiler. Leave til bubbly and slightly brown -- between 45 seconds and two minutes, depending on how strong your broiler is. Remove from oven. Serve into large bowls.
Place four or five croutons in each bowl. Should serve four people.
Serves 4 entree soups and 8 starter soups.