Day Two and I’m already on to food. This shouldn’t be surprising, I suppose, being that I come from a long line of people on my mother’s side for whom an important topic of conversation at any meal typically includes the plans for the next meal, or even a reminiscence of a particularly cherished repast-past. (Wait, what?)

Right. So back to the soup. Earlier this year, several circumstances collided in a kind of perfect storm for French onion soupmaking:
  • a particularly wearing Tuesday at work
  • the accidental purchase of a second, and entirely superfluous, 3lb bag of onions
  • I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty certain simply Being Done with School had a lot to do with it as well. All that time in the evenings, whoopee! &c
This led to a rummage on my cookbook shelf and a happy meeting with Ina Garten’s recipe, which can be found in her first cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. [Side note – I love Ina Garten. She is delightful, and so is her food. If I had cable I’d totally watch her show on the Food Network.]
Do you love French Onion soup? Do you find it wonderfully soothing and comforting, and after you’ve had some, you just feel like it takes the edge right off? If you answered yes, you should not be surprised to hear, as I was, that it contains booze. YES. BOOZE. Mais, bien sûr!, je me pense, il faut que such delicious soup is simply swimming in alcohol – three kinds, according to Ina’s recipe plus beef and veal stock (Je suis desolée, but budgets and simplicity were the saving grace for all those little veals, at least for this household; I went for beef stock only). Far be it from me to quibble with the French when they say alcohol is called for. After all, they can charge so much for their wines! AND they are responsible for Veuve. Thus off I went to procure brandy, sherry, and white wine.
And there was much chopping of onions, and many tears (I amused myself, as I always do, by imagining the many sad sad stories that would end in my chopping onions with slow, decorous tears running down my face); and there was much carmelizing and after that a lot of deglazing, and there was drinking, because after all I opened up the white wine and I didn’t need all of it.
Delicious. And it freezes like a treat.
You’ve been wondering, I’m sure, about the Death Match so coyly alluded to in the title. It was not a reference to the onions which bravely gave their lives so I could get a little loaded and make some soup, although I do honor their sacrifice and I assure you it was not in vain.
No, it seems that Trader Joe, with whom I have enjoyed a largely monogamous grocery relationship for the last five-odd years (I never cheated because I WANTED to, just for the record; and it meant nothing to me. I never enjoyed it.), has French Onion Soup in the frozen aisle. So I gave it a run last night.
First of all, they should call it Quebeçois Onion Soup, because it’s made in the Great Blanc Nord. It did not appear to want to secede and went quietly to its fate in the oven, however. Facts:
  • Vegetable stock. This will be happy news for some. I refrain from comment.
  • No word on booze. Again, happy news for some. Mum here.
  • Comes with croutons and cheese all ready to go. A definite plus.
  • Pop into oven for 40 min and voila. So, another +1 for ease of prep.
My verdict on their soup: pretty tasty. I hadn’t actually perused the ingredient list at the time and I was a little surprised about the veg stock, so that’s got to be good for taste, right?
However this is a death match, in which … TWO SOUPS ENTER, ONE SOUP – right. Well. Under those circumstances, of course I’m going with Ina. It’s meat, it’s booze, it’s homemade, and it’s not those upstart French-Canadians (kidding!). But I will observe a moment of silence for the TJ’s variety; it was good, and also I don’t want him getting all huffy and screening my calls.
Now I’m going to eat my soup.