Monday, October 5, 2009

Crepes and French Onion Soup

Anyone can turn their kitchen into a quiet bistro with this simple and satisfying meal. Great for the cool days of autumn, when fresh greens are easy to come by, and surprisingly easy to make, spinach and cheese crepes and French onion soup are a perfect pair to add a little rustic charm to your day. The other day, I started the soup in the morning before work, and within 45 minutes of getting home from the library, Chris and I sat at our tiny kitchen table to share this delicious dinner. Would you like a taste?

The Easiest French Onion Soup
from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook 

Cooker: medium round or oval
setting and cook time: HIGH for 9-10 hours
(this makes a lot of soup -- I'm going to freeze the leftovers, but I'm unsure how that'll work out. Anyone had experience freezing onions before? Do they get all mushy?)

6 large yellow onions
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1 14-oz can chicken broth
1 10.5-oz can beef broth
2 tablespoons Marsala or red wine (optional)
4-6 1-inch-thick slices French bread
8 oz Gruyere cheese, cut into thin slices

Peel and thinly slice the onions by hand or in a food processor. Put in the slow cooker and toss with the olive oil. Cover and cook for 9-10 hours on high.

Add both the broths and Marsala; add no water or salt. Cover and continue to cook on high until hot, 15-30 minutes.*

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 F. Put the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Ladle the soup into individual ovenproof soup bowls and place on a baking sheet to prevent the bowls from tipping over. Top each bowl full of soup with a toasted bread slice and cover with a slice of the Gruyere. Adjust the oven rack to comfortably fit the bowls under the broiler with at least 4 inches to spare. Turn on the broiler and slide the soups under the flame; broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.

*Before you add the broth to the soup, mix the crepe batter. Add the broth and let the soup heat up while the crepe batter rests.

adapted from The Silver Spoon 

makes 4-6 large (9-inch) crepes

2 eggs, lightly beaten
scant 1 cup all-purpose flour (white whole wheat works great)
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

handful of torn spinach leaves
a couple slices Swiss cheese
optional: a few slices prosciutto

Whisk together the eggs, flour, milk and a pinch of salt to make a smooth batter. Let rest for 30 minutes.

About 3 minutes before you're ready to cook the crepes, put the spinach or other greens in a microwave-safe bowl with the cheese and cook it just until the greens are wilted and the cheese is melted -- about 1 1/2 minutes. Set the filling aside. 

Brush a crepe pan or a heavy skillet with a little of the melted butter and heat the pan. Pour in enough batter to cover the pan with a very thin coat of batter.

Watch the batter -- it'll start changing color from the outside toward the center, and small bubbles will form in the edges. If bubbles form before the color changes, you might need to lower the heat a little bit. When the crepe has almost changed color, but the center is still unchanged, and there are bubbles in the edges, gently work a spatula under the crepe to loosen it completely from the skillet, then flip it quickly. It only takes 30-90 seconds to cook each side.

Place a small amount of filling in the center of the crepe, then fold it in half, and in half again. If you're using proscuitto and cheese instead of spinach and cheese, you can roll the crepes like cannelloni.

Cover to keep warm until serving.


  1. yum! I think the soup will come out of the freezer mostly okay. I bet if you add extra cheese you won't even notice - or you could puree it and use it as a base for a nice beef/barley soup (mmm that sounds great, actually).

    Crepes! you're so brave. Do you have a crepe pan, or did you use a regular skillet?

  2. i just used a regular cast-iron skillet and it was easy! and using the soup as a beef/barley base is a brilliant idea -- maybe add some greens as well. mmm ...


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