I’ve been considering sharing recipes for camp cooking. You know, good ol’ ditch diggers fare. But I don’t know many who do or even want to cook over the open fire as we do in camp. And I don’t know anyone who needs a recipe for Hamburger Helper… Yes, it’s true. When we’re up at camp, even the most simple of foods taste wonderful. And after a day of digging, the easier the better.
But weekends and days back home, we enjoy baking on the old wood stove (We? OK, me.) and serving up a little more fancy fare, as occasion, energy and ingredients allow. We don’t have a great deal of opportunities for town trips this time of year either (though you know by now how good I am at putting those things off), so available ingredients are often slim picking.
Can’t tell you how grateful we are for generous neighbors, who may share their “leftovers” as they clean up their summer home-away-from-home and reluctantly head off the mountain and back to the heat of their main home. Last night, its past 8 pm, the day was too nice to work inside, the dishes left undone, and dinner in desperate need of cooking for us three tired and hungry mountain folks. Lo and behold, our neighbors stop by and present us with the gift of a whole cooked turkey… still warm. Talk about counting your blessings…
Otherwise, we’d be doing the pantry scraping, creative cooking. Which really isn’t too bad. As long as there is some fresh bread around, and for some reason, I usually do manage to keep up on my baking. Strange sense of priorities, I suppose.
French Onion Soup is a good example of that pantry scraping cooking style. Chances are pretty good we can scrounge up all the necessary ingredients in the pantry or on the counter to put this one together. It’s a rich, satisfying meal with minimal fuss and even fewer ingredients. Simplicity at it’s finest.
Well, if anyone is interested in how to cook simple meals over the open fire, tips on how to avoid smoke in the eyes and soot on your clothes, please let me know. In the meanwhile, I’ll share this recipe with you.
French Onion Soup
In a medium size heavy pot (I use a dutch oven without legs) over moderate heat, melt:
2 tablespoons butter
Slice in half and then in long even thin curls, and sauté in that butter until tender and golden brown:
2 large onions
2 tablespoons flour
Then slowly add, stirring constantly:
5 cups beef broth; or 5 cups water and bullion cubes or beef base.
½ cup white wine or dry vermouth
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon thyme
A small pinch nutmeg
A dash of white pepper
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Let the soup simmer for 20-30 minutes, covered over medium-low heat.
Meanwhile… toast and smear with butter:
6 small slices of day old French bread.
Actually, any kind of bread will do. I’ve used old hamburger buns when that’s been all we have in the house, and it still tasted great.
In a separate bowl, grate:
2 cups swiss cheese
Now, assemble the soup. I start by stirring in ½ cup cheese, then layering on three pieces of buttered toast, then ½ cup cheese, then the final three pieces of buttered toast, topped with the final cup of cheese.
Put this in a medium hot oven without a cover for 15 minutes. The toast will be crispy, the cheese hot and bubbly, and everything soaked together really well.
Hope you try and enjoy!