Category Archives: Vegetarian

French Onion Soup….5 years in the making

I love French onion soup.  I love it, I love it, I love it.  It’s so delicious and comforting and it brings back some great memories of dinners with friends growing up.  But in restaurants, I almost always have to pass up this delicious favorite.  Why?  Because it’s made with beef broth.  Ugh.

These are the major parts of French onion soup.  And life in general.

 But the thing is, I’ve had great vegetarian French onion soup.  I know it exists.  My friend’s mom has made (what I remember as) the most amazing, vegetarian French onion soup.  Granted, I haven’t had it since 8th or 9th grade, but oh, it was so good.

So it’s been a goal of mine to create the most amazing vegetarian French onion soup ever.  I’ve tried and failed in the past, and it was very sad.  Then I forced the thought from my mind and tackled other recipes rather than get frustrated by this one.  And then, completely randomly, I saw this simple recipe posted at Smitten Kitchen back in April.  There was a suggestion I had never seen before – use mushroom stock for a vegetarian version.  Well, vegetable stock hadn’t worked out well for me in the past, so I figured I might as well give mushroom stock a try.  I immediately made some adjustments and saved it.  I mean, I love soup, but I feel like it’s really just not as good when you eat it during warm weather.  My experiment would just have to wait.

Well, it snowed in DC on Saturday, so I think it’s now officially cold enough for me to start making soup regularly (I eat soup in the winter time like it’s my job).  Also, I recently found a kosher bakery where I bought a lovely baguette that was just begging to be used, and I had a bottle of dry white wine ready to go.  Clearly the stars were aligning and this weekend was my time to finally make a great, vegetarian French onion soup.

So I did.  And it was better than great.  It was amazing.  Mission accomplished.

Stuffed Swiss Chard Leaves

Do you ever have those days where nothing seems to go the way you planned?  Not to say that things don’t turn out well, they just turn out differently, and the journey took a bunch of unexpected detours on the way?  Do those days ever turn into entire weeks?

I had a week like that recently.  It coincided with the week I decided to do quite a few experiments with cooking and baking.  I made some muffins that were a bit off.  I made a pilaf that spiraled from simple to so many ingredients that it barely fit in the container I had set aside for it.  But I think the biggest thing that went nothing like I had planned, and yet was probably the biggest success, was my stuffed Swiss chard leaves.

I happened to be watching Food Network (well, ok, so I always happen to be watching Food Network), and Giada came on with a vegetarian episode.  One recipe in particular caught my eye – her stuffed Swiss chard leaves.  And the next time I was at the farmer’s market, do you know what was staring at me while I waiting in line to buy apples?  A beautiful bunch of Swiss chard leaves.  It seemed like fate.

So I looked at the original recipe for a bit, then concocted my own version.  I didn’t want rice in mine, since I’m generally not a fan.  But I did have this bag of bulgur that I never got around to using.  And while I am a huge fan of goat cheese, I just wasn’t feeling it.  So I made up my own version and got to work.

Funny thing about reading recipes – you actually need to read them.  For example, you need to read the words “cooked” when a recipe specifies a cup of “cooked” lentils and two cups of “cooked” rice.  Well, I ignored these words and decided to go with uncooked measurements.  Which meant that I made an obscene amount of filling.  Which meant that I was eating it for days.  Which meant that afterwards I had to rework the recipe in order to make a not-so-obscene amount of filling.  Which took a lot of me scribbling on pieces of paper to divide cups of everything because apparently I can’t do math in my head.

Like I said, it was one of those weeks.  The good news is, the result was delicious.  The craisins in the stuffing give a nice tart element, and the peppers give crunch.  The lentil-bulgur combo is high in protein, and the mint and lemon juice add a fresh, bright aspect to the dish.  And of course, anything covered in sauce and cheese tastes good.  These stuffed leaves make a great appetizer.  Or, if you’re like me, you could just guzzle down 6 at a time and pretend it’s a meal.