It seemed like only yesterday. Actually, it was only yesterday. Or maybe a few days ago...when I could eat, nay gorge, without feeling like someone were running a potato peeler down my raw congested throat.
Fine. Maybe I'm verging on the dramatic. But I AM in pain. I've had this blasted throat infection for three days already, and other than toast soaked and disintegrated in chicken noodle cup-a-soups, my stomach hasn't seen a fat chewy crunchy crispy chunk of anything since Wednesday morning (excluding the buttered shortbread biscuit I attempted to ingest after dinner a while ago...chomp, yum, so buttery, crunch, love these chocolate coated biscuits...yay, happy me, real food finally, chomp, swallow...ACCK! Someone get this darned potato peeler out of my throat!)
It took me back to a Friday almost two weeks ago, when I'd cooked up some bubbling hot French onion soup and layered it with homebaked croutons and slices of gruyere, blasted under the broiler, topped up with more soup, more slices of gruyere, and blasted again for final ultimate goeey cheesiness. Sweet and rich, with that deep, mellow fullness you get from adding both beef and chicken broth...such a perfect wintertime dish, makes me seriously wonder why people usually recommend chicken soup for the common cold and not bubbling hot french onion soup with melted sheets of gruyere hanging over the top instead. Anyone? Any doctors out there?
I did a mix n' match between recipes I found from Alton Brown, the Food Network foodie geek (only used the bouquet garni as inspiration), Luke at Cookography (took the butter, onion and liquid proportions from here...I also started off using the oven technique described in this recipe for browning the onions...but later learned that it's much simpler to just do this all in a pot on high heat), and Delia Online (followed her croutons gig, and also switched to her onion browning technique when the ovenbake method took too long). The result was a comfy, heart-warming bowl of bubbling french onion soup.
My only regret is that I didn't have those pretty little ramekins that every other online french onion soup brewer and photographer seems to own...Santa, I swear I've been good this year.
I paired the soup with a roast beef and dutch cheese on ciabatta sandwich. This creation is probably as store-bought as my haughty cooking -passions will ever allow me to go...fresh (store-bought and prodded for freshness) herb ciabatta rolls, deli-sliced roast beef, spicy dutch cheese (which turned out to not be spicy at all, but was still perfectly melty for a sandwich), caramelized onion and mushroom gravy (inspired by the onion remnants of my French onion soup, with some mushrooms and beef broth thrown in...the only part of this sammy that I can truly claim to be homemade), a tiny leaf of lettuce for good measure, and a smear of essential Waitrose hot horseradish sauce (so irresistable that I finished a bottle of this, singlehandedly, in a week).
I even tried the sandwich with some of my dad's incredible turkey (which I've decided we should always have in stock 365 days of the year because I love it so much), and it was equally phenomenal.
Exponentially less phenomenal is my throat, which at the time of writing this post, still stubbornly refuses to let anything but the blandest and clearest of liquids trickle down. Counting the hours till my meds finally kick in and reign things back in order, but till then, it's back to the chicken noodle soup bowl for me.