I’ll start with the Crockpot. I know there’s a woman on TV who claims to use hers to prepare dinner for her 8 children. But mine seldom gets a work out. And while anyone who has 8 children must know a thing or two about the splendors of the slow cooker, I have a beef with the appliance. And here it is: If the virtue of the Crockpot is that you can put all the ingredients into the pot in the morning, walk away and come back 8 hours later to a family dinner, someone has to explain why I must brown anything before I put it into the pot. Doesn’t this mean that at breakfast time I am standing over the stove browning tonight’s dinner? I marvel at how the woman with 8 children does that and gets them fed and off to school. But I am not about to brown anything that goes into the Crockpot.
Lo and behold, when I was poking around for a recipe for Slow Cooker Onion Soup, I came upon a recipe that claimed you could caramelize the onions in your crockpot. Eureka! I am huge fan of onion soup. I love it with its rich beefy stock and deep onion flavor to say nothing of the slab of French Bread and the Gruyere cheese melting down the sides of the lion-headed bowls that we use solely for that purpose. I couldn’t wait to get started.
|Would you call these caramelized?|
|The addition of the ribs made a terrific difference|
Far more successful was the soup I made in the new Cuisinart Blend and Cook Soupmaker. Now this devise, which looks like a commercial blender, is intimidating at first. Just its size is impressive. It rises off the counter to a height of 18 inches. My first thought was will this be like the toaster oven? The appliance that has so many features, it does none of them very well? Turns out, that’s not the case here. It has a heating element built into its base. Its control panel has a built-in timer and its very sharp blades have a ‘Stir” button which, rather than pureeing the contents of the bowl, actually do just stir them up. You simply put whatever ingredients your recipe calls for into the blender jar heat them on high for a few minutes, then lower the heat, cook for about 30 minutes, then puree. I made my second all-time favorite soup, Tomato, and it was delicious. What you may love about this recipe is that its fat-free. And as much of a cream soup fan as I am, you do not feel anything is missing in this creamy, all vegetable version. The recipe follows. But my last word on the subject is: If you want really great onion soup, you will not find it in the crockpot. And I note that in the recipe booklet that came with the Cuisinart, there’s no recipe for onion soup. Smart people those people at Cuisinart. Here’s the recipe:
Tomato Soup made in the Cuisinart Blend and Cook Soup Maker adapted from a Cuisinart recipe:
For 5 cups of Soup:
½ small onion, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 small carrot, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 small celery stalk, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
1 tablespoon unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 can (28-ounce) whole plum tomatoes in purée
2 tbsp. Tomato Paste
1/8th teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2. Set timer for 9 minutes and temperature on High. Once the mixture comes to a boil, set timer for 30 minutes and temperature on Medium.
3. When 30 minutes is up, blend on speed 1, gradually raising to speed 3, for two minutes or until completely smooth.
4. Taste and adjust for seasoning as desired. Serve.