Yes, I realize that Monday has come and gone. But I was simply too busy getting ready for this weekend’s recipe testing to get anything posted. For that matter, I barely took time to eat. Very early this morning I had to get some sample breads baked off first thing, and as long as I was relatively caught up on details for Saturday, I figured I might as well get a pot of vegetable stock on to simmer. There’s a chance of thundershowers later today, and a cool breeze has been blowing through the house all day. That, plus the stock, spelled soup.
There is a neighbor at the end of my street who has a beautiful bed of white onions growing just outside her back fence. And while I was thinking soup, it was a light, springy soup I had in mind. Now, I suppose I could wait until after dark and creep down the alley with my scissors. But that would mean a late dinner, and after the way I ate, or didn’t, yesterday, I need an earlier dinner. On the other hand, what better way to meet a neighbor than to take her a loaf of fresh bread. This is starting to sound like If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.
So off I went with a fresh baguette wrapped up in a piece of parchment. And a pair of scissors in my back pocket, you know, just in case. I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that not only was a deal struck, but she told me I would be doing her a favor if I came back and helped myself to as many as I wanted.
NEIGHBORLY ONION SOUP
FOR THE SOUP
1 1/2 quarts vegetable stock
2 cups onion scapes, 1/4″ slices
Juice of 1 lemon (zest it first)
Sea or kosher salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE CROSTINI
8 slices from a good baguette
4 ounces soft (room temperature) butter
4 teaspoons of snipped chives (I use scissors)
Zest of one lemon
- When I made vegetable stock this morning, I started with my bag of vegetable trimmings which included some asparagus ends, mushroom stems, onion and garlic peels, a few tomato ends, and some parsley stems. I added 4 carrots, several stalks of celery because it simply needed to be used up, a quartered onion, and a few smashed cloves of garlic. I covered it all with 3 quarts of cold water, and by the time it had simmered down to a heady flavor concentration, it yielded right at 1 1/2 quarts of jewel-toned stock. Alternatively, use a good organic stock.
- Set the oven to broil. This comes together very quickly, so have all your mise en place (prep work, basically) done.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the soft butter, chives, and lemon zest. Do not butter the baguette slices before broiling them. Chives are quite delicate, and the warmth of the grilled bread is just perfect for both melting the butter and for bringing out the bright flavor of the chives and lemon zest. Set the slices of baguette on a baking sheet not lined with parchment. Broil both sides of the slices to a deep golden brown. When done, remove from the oven and spread each side with the butter-chive-lemon mixture. Keep any leftover butter; it will be wonderful on toast with a poached egg resting on top.
- While the bread is broiling, begin heating stock to a simmer. Add the onion scapes and lemon juice. Cook only as long as it takes for the scapes to heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Ladle soup into bowls, and dip 2 crostini into each one.