It has been freezing here, in a technical sense. Yes, yes, I know it's probably been colder wherever you happen to be sitting, but for Atlanta, it has been unseasonably cold. That's why I was thankful to have this french onion soup ready for me in my freezer.
Everyone needs an emergency recipe like this in their back pocket. It comes from a great cookbook I got for Christmas, Eugenia Bone's Well-Preserved. She shows country folk and city folk alike how to can (aka put up or preserve) fruits, vegetables, or meats in small quantities, AND THEN shows you what to do with them when you open them up later, other than just eating them out of the jar. The greatest part of the book is that, for a great many of the recipes, you don't need any special equipment. This french onion soup is one of those beauties. All you need is a large pot and some freezer bags/containers.
As with each of the recipes in the book, this recipe is made in two stages. You start first by making Stewed Onions with Marjoram, to be divided into 2-pint portions and stored in your freezer. Whenever you're craving something warm and seriously delicious, you just grab a pack out of your freezer and reheat it with some chicken stock. Voila!
Over medium-low, heat 6 tablespoons in your largest pot (I learned this the hard way - you'll need plenty of room for the onions). In the meantime, thinly slice 24 medium yellow onions. If you have a food processor, this is a moment where your slicer disk can really shine. It will save you a lot of time and tears. Add the onions to the pot and let them hang out for 30 minutes or so, stirring every few minutes. [If you're concerned after adding the onions that there won't be room for any other ingredients, don't worry - their volume will decrease significantly.] Next, add two quarts of low-sodium beef stock and 3 tablespoons of dried marjoram. I recommend low-sodium because it gives you a little more control over the saltiness of your food. It's much easier to add a little bit more than to take any out. Let this all hang out on the stove for an hour and fifteen minutes. The onions will be soft and stewy.
When the mixture has cooled, I used tongs to transfer the onions to 6 freezer-safe plastic bags, then ladled in the broth. End of STAGE ONE.
STAGE TWO: When you're ready to enjoy the soup, grab a bag from the freezer. Defrosting it overnight would probably be best, but I just cut the bag open and reheated it over a low flame with a quart of chicken stock. When I could see steam start to rise from the surface of the soup, I ladled it into two ramekins, topped it with some thick-sliced bread, and sprinkled it with shredded parmesan cheese. After 5-10 minutes in a 400F oven, the bread had soaked up some of the soup and the cheese had formed a delicious golden-brown crust. I'm happy to report that STAGE TWO took all of fifteen minutes to prepare, maybe less. One portion from the freezer comfortably feeds two. Enjoy!