Thanks to an overabundance of onions in the Italian Pantry and a flip through Mollie Katzen's Recipes: Soups cookbook, it was easy to find a recipe worth trying. When I first saw my plethora of onions, I was going to make French Onion soup, but the Swiss Cheese and Onion recipe in Katzen's book was really appealing. There was a small issue though...I didn't have any Swiss cheese (or sherry, for that matter), but I did have horseradish (extra hot!), which was the ingredient that tipped the scales in favour of this recipe. I could do without the sherry. But I did have vermouth. A touch of alcohol is a touch of alcohol, right? After a search of the refrigerator's contents, I came up with Provolone and Mozzarella. The soup would take an Italian spin (surprise, surprise!).
This also gave me the opportunity to break in the cast iron Dutch oven I finally bought for myself. I could kick myself for waiting this long to get one, but I'll be using it frequently now. Wait until you see the results of bread baking in it! Okay...back to the soup. It's a quick soup, coming together in less than an hour. As I said before, the horseradish really adds a smoky depth and a wee bite. I added a little more than the required teaspoon because: 1. I love horseradish and 2. I like a little bite in my food. You can add more, less, or not at all, but I think you would be doing yourself a disservice if you left it out altogether. Provolone and Mozzarella mellowed out the taste, and I will be making it again with Swiss, but it's good to know that the substitution doesn't lessen the deliciousness.
(Adapted from 'Swiss Cheese and Onion Soup' by Mollie Katzen)
Makes 6-8 servings
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, sliced thin
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons dry vermouth
1-3 tablespoons flour
2 cups water
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 1/2 cups warmed milk
1 1/2 cups mozzarella and/or Provolone cheese (grated)
pepper, to taste
Melt the butter in your pot. Add onions, garlic, salt, and mustard. Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft (8-10 minutes). Sprinkle in the flour by the tablespoon, stirring constantly. The more flour used, the thicker the soup. Mix well.
Add the vermouth, water, and horseradish. Stir and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the milk and cheese, stirring as the cheese melts into the liquid.
Let simmer for a few minutes more, adding pepper to taste.
I followed Mollie's suggestion and served the soup sprinkled with a dash of paprika and homemade croutons. A swirl of crème fraîche would be lovely too.
And yes....soup reminds me of 'Seinfeld.'