French Onion Soup, Meatballs and a Kitchen Assistant

Yesterday, I spent almost the whole day in the kitchen. Well, not the whole day but several hours at least. That was not my intention when I woke up but it just ended up that way. It began around lunchtime when I was really hungry but just didn’t want a PB&J or a hot dog so I decided to make something for myself. I didn’t want to make a whole meal or anything so soup seemed like the logical choice. Since my fridge was pretty bare of any ingredients, I strode over to the pantry to see what was there and I settled on making French Onion Soup. Man, it was GOOD! If you’d like the recipe, click HERE.

As previously stated, my fridge was bare as was my pantry so I was scrambling to put together the ingredients necessary to make the soup. I had onions, beef broth, thyme, flour, butter, bread and cheese and once I put them all together, this is was I got:
It was surprisingly good considering there wasn’t a recipe to follow and the ingredients were thrown together in a moment. The only thing I wasn’t completely wild about was the bread I used for the top but my choices were pretty limited. A slice of a baguette would have been much, much better but I used what was on hand, Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Farmhouse Style White Bread. It was put in a 400 degree oven for about 10 mins, until dry and toasted and it worked out ok but it was definitely the weakest part of the soup. If you can’t dowload the document at the link above, here is the recipe:

French Onion Soup in a Pinch

2 Tbs butter
1 tsp olive oil
2 small yellow onions
ground thyme, 2 tsp
2 Tbs flour
3 cups of broth (beef or a combo of beef and chicken)
thyme leaves, dried 1 tsp
cream or milk 1/4 cup
dry sherry
2 pieces of hearty bread
cheese of your choosing (swiss, mozz, parm)

Take your two yellow onions and cut them in half. Peel off the outer paper and skin then cut them into half rings. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat along with the olive oil. Once it is bubbling, add the onions, salt, pepper, and ground thyme and cook until caramelized but not scorched. Stir constantly to keep them from burning.

Once the onions are ready, add the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the broth and then taste. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Add the dried thyme leaves and the cream and stir in 1-2 Tbs of dry sherry. Turn heat to low.

While this is cooking, spray two pieces of bread with Pam and place on a cookie sheet in a 400-degree oven until very toasted and dry. Then, put soup in ovenproof bowls, top each with one slice of bread and then sprinkle the top with either swiss, parmesan, or mozz cheese. I used shredded mozz. Put under the broiler or in 400 degree oven set to convection until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Sit down and eat. I hope you enjoy it!

After lunch, it was time for my next projects: mini hamburgers and meatballs. I wasn’t wild with how these turned out so you won’t see the recipe here but I ended up with 24 mini burgers and three jelly-roll pans of these:

Well, what the heck. I’ll tell you how I made the meatballs and perhaps you can improve them or suggest something that might make them better next time.

1 lbs ground italian sausage (mild)
2 lbs ground beef
2 eggs
garlic powder
onion powder
italian-style breadcumbs

I combined all the ingredients until moist then I pinched off a piece and rolled it into small-medium sized balls. These were placed on the pan and then cooked at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. It seemed like they needed another layer of flavor or something, like more herbs. They were fine, just not “wow” for me. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to leave them!

Later in the day, while making the mini burgers, I called my sister for a quick minute. During the call, she told me that my niece was sad because my sister told her she couldn’t come play with us. “She can come play!” I said. So, off I went to pick up my kitchen assistant. Though I didn’t know it would work out like that at the time. šŸ™‚

When we got back to my house, she wanted to help me in the kitchen. See, my sister cooks all the time and my niece, though only two, loves to get in there and help out. So we pulled up a stool and let her make her own creation. Look at this face:
Who could tell her no?

Somewhere in our house she found a mini rolling pin and she wanted to roll out my meatballs but that didn’t seem like a good idea so I gave her a piece of bread.
She requested some cheese to put on top and then she proceeded to roll it out. Sort of. Then she pretended to make soup and let all of us taste it, including herself.
This is where a healthy relationship with food begins, by letting your children in the kitchen early. Allowing them to see where meals are created and giving them the freedom to experiment with things as well. It is one of the things I wish my mother had done with me and it is something my sister does all the time with her daughter. Wonderful!

I have to say, after being in the kitchen with all that meat cooking yesterday pretty much cured my interest in meatballs for quite some time. I’m glad I made a big batch because it certainly seems like a money saver to have so many on hand in the freezer but I think it will be a while before I eat any myself. LOL

Today, I’m making a standing rib roast for dinner so be sure to come back tomorrow for the scoop on that!

Bridget - What a sweet little helper…and that soup looks GOOOOOOOOD!!!!!

Jennifer - The soup looks mighty good. Maybe I’ll whip some up this weekend! I was in NYC last week and we ate at a place that featured French Onion Soup DUMPLINGS. I could have eaten at least five dozen.

NewRachael - That soup looks absolutely delicious! Also, the composition of your photos is pretty brilliant. Best of luck!

Mama Podkayne - Ah, meatballs, my old nemesis…..
The only difference in my recipe to yours is that we mix in shredded parmasean/asiago, real garlic instead of powder, and fresh chopped parsley. Then we also grease the cookie sheet just a bit with olive oil.

Stacey - Your niece is too adorable…. love it when the little ones want to cook!

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