IAM SIMMERING A POT OF ONION SOUP as I type, thanks to a reminder from “The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook” about how simple, delicious and suited to the season it is. Broccoli-Cheddar Soup may be next (not sure I can resist!) and then there’s a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Apple Soup, too. Oh, dear; I haven’t even gotten beyond the fall chapter and I’m already over the limit of what the freezer will hold the leftovers of. Want the onion soup recipe—and a chance to win one of three copies of this new cookbook that I’ve bought to share?
I paid a visit this summer to historic Beekman 1802, the rural residence of my ex-Martha Stewart colleague Brent Ridge and his partner Josh Kilmer-Purcell, also known as “The Fabulous Beekman Boys” from the Planet Green reality show and from the popular memoir “The Bucolic Plague” that Josh published last year about their city-to-country transition.
For the Beekman Boys’ latest project (do they ever stop?), the cookbook team included another old friend, Sandy Gluck, former food editor of Martha’s “Everyday Food” magazine and one of the smartest cooks I know. The result: a happy combination of fresh-from-the-garden ingredients, including many heirlooms, that Brent and Josh grow at their Sharon Springs, New York, farm or purchase nearby, combined into well-written, practical recipes that invite me to try them. No crazy-long lists of ingredients; no daunting step-by-steps, thank you.
“The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook” has me busy harvesting not just recipes but also flavor ideas. I wouldn’t have thought to fold tangy leaves of sorrel into my mashed potatoes, or to weave mushrooms and kale into my ramekins of crumb-topped mac and cheese. Fried green tomatoes get extra-crunchy with panko bread crumbs instead of cornmeal; pears poached in red wine and sugar gain an extra kick from cinnamon, peppercorns, allspice, and vanilla bean.
It’s also a cookbook that invites personalization, with space left on each recipe page for writing in notes (“Practice your handwriting,” suggests Brent) and bound-in envelope-like folders to tuck your own recipes into.
All I can say is good thing it’s not June, or I’d be face-down in the Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble instead of sharing this recipe with you.
Cheese Toast-Topped Onion Soup
From ‘The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook’
It always seems that the first thing to come out of the root cellar each autumn (even though they’ve been hanging for only a few weeks) is a bundle of onions for a slowly cooked pot of onion soup–the perfect herald to the season. This richly flavored soup—with sweet, golden onions, red wine, and just a touch of sherry—is made even more irresistible with a topping of country bread and melted cheese.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ½ pounds large yellow onions, halved, peeled, and thinly sliced (8 cups)
4 sprigs fresh thyme or 6 teaspoon dried
¾ cup red wine
2 tablespoons sherry
6 cups homemade chicken stock or reduced-sodium canned broth*
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 slices crusty country bread
¼ pound Gruyère-style cheese, thinly sliced
In a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and thyme, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 20 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring frequently, until golden bro wn, about 25 minutes.
Stir in the red wine and sherry, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the stock, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes to concentrate the flavors.
Preheat the broiler.
Divide the soup among 8 soup bowls. Cut each slice of bread in half and place on a baking sheet or broiler pan. Top with the cheese. Broil the cheese toasts 4 to 6 inches from the heat for 2 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Place 2 slices in each bowl of soup.
(*I’m using homemade vegetable stock in place of the chicken.)
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How to Win 1 of 3 Cookbooks
ALL YOU HAVE TO DO TO QUALIFY TO WIN one of three copies of “The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook” I bought to share is comment below, offering up an example of a recipe you’d call one of your own “heirlooms.” (You don’t have to post the whole recipe, but just describe it a bit–up to you.) Is there a recipe you’re known for, that friends and family want when they visit you?
Don’t worry if you’re feeling shy. I’ll count your comment even if you just say , “I want to win” or some such. I’m pretty easy.
Winners will be chosen at random, using the number-generating tool on random [dot] org, after entries close at midnight Thursday. October 20. Good luck to all.
Credits: Recipes and images reprinted with permission from “The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook” © 2011 by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by © Paulette Tavormina. Also: A portion of anything you might buy from an Amazon link here results in a small commission, which I use to buy more books for future giveaways.