What is it about the fall that makes me instantly turn into sloth girl? The colder weather is certainly a part of it (35 degrees here when I woke up! Aah!), but I think it is also the smells, the colors, and obviously, the food. I like to cook things slowly in the fall, since I'm happy to let my oven warm up the entire house now, unlike summer when the grill is the only heat I'll allow! My slow cooker is out of the cabinet and becomes pretty much a counter fixture the second September rolls around. It's my saving grace now that I work lots of evenings.
This weekend I had lots of cooking time on my hands since E and I were laying around pretty depressed about the impending doom that was creeping up on the Red Sox (not a word Bobbins! I'll come over there!). The only thing to do once fate was clinched and the series was not was to eat lots of comfort food. To me that can mean lots of things: spaghetti and meat balls, homemade mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, tuna noodle casserole. This week it meant my version of onion soup for lunch and my mom's banana bread with huge cups of tea all late afternoon. Nothing better to soothe the slow ache of a season gone down the tubes.
How to make my Potato Onion Soup:
4 cups yellow onion, sliced thin
2 medium red potatoes, sliced in half then sliced very thin (use a mandoline or a food processor for this!)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup red wine
3 Tbls. tomato paste
6 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 Tbls. olive oil
If you have a dutch oven for this soup, you're money. I don't have one, and it is the bane of my existence. (Maybe one day a fairy godmother, or my husband, will get one for me? Hint hint!) If you are sadly devoid of a dutch oven, use a big pot; it'll be ok.
Heat olive oil in the pot over medium low heat. Add onion and cook over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring every once in a while. Yes, I said 45 minutes. Your onions need to get super soft and turn a dark golden color before you add anything else or you won't get the right flavor. See those? That is 30 minutes in, and they may look soft and yummy, but they are not ready! Keep going until you see this caramel color. Please ignore that I forgot to take a picture before adding the potatoes! But really, that's how dark your onions need to be! Once you get them to that point, stir in garlic, red wine, tomato paste, bay leaf and potatoes. Let that simmer for about 5 minutes before pouring in your stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 35 - 45 minutes, until your potatoes are fork tender. Season with salt and pepper, remove bay leaf, and serve.
We ate ours with little Blue Cheese Crescent Rolls and lots of sorrow. It was delicious and did make me feel a little better. The entire house smelled of onions, which I love, but E doesn't, so I baked a banana bread to cut the odor. I don't like most banana breads, and I will never buy it in a bakery or coffee shop because it is always too dry. I know everyone says it, but my mother's recipe is the best! It is so moist, and it will stay that way for days as long as you wrap the bread tightly in foil. This is perfect with a little butter or cream cheese and a big cup of tea! Plus, you can have a loaf in the oven in literally 10 minutes.
Suzy's Banana Bread:
3 very ripe bananas (ultra ripe, brown skinned, and soft)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Blend banana, egg, oil, and sugar with a hand mixer until well combined. Beat in flour, salt, and baking soda. Fold in nuts and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Eat it 'til it's gone!
Although this is one of my favorite comfort foods, we have to be real here. Is it good for you? No, but neither is binge drinking and how many of us did that this past month (err, weekend? yesterday?)? If you really want to lighten it up a little you can use 1/2 a cup of white flour mixed with 1 cup of whole wheat flour, and replace 1/3 of the cup of sugar with Splenda. It won't hurt your final product, but I haven't gone further than that. I don't want to mess too much with perfection! Off to eat my second slice of the day; maybe I should fit in a workout!