As readers have probably noticed, I am an incredible sucker for Penzey’s Spices. There is an absurd number of jars (at least 30!) within my reach as I sit at my place at the kitchen island to eat, plus some random spices/herbs that I have acquired from Trader Joe’s and Amazon.
The stove has at least fifty bottles within reach when I am cooking, and there are “back up” jars stashed all over the house, still in their boxes, to say nothing of the ones that are ready to put directly into the motorhome, should the opportunity arise.
Much as I love to cook and present delicious foods to others, mostly it is the ability to experiment with the different possibilities, especially with something that is otherwise fairly bland, that rings my chimes. The above soup is an example.
On its own, it might be known as Cream of Onion, but that would definitely not tell its story.
For those interested, here is the sequence of events that produced what turned out to be an absolutely fabulous lunch soup.
I had been making a rich beef broth from a couple of steak bones in my smallish six-cup slow cooker, so when I took the broth out, I plopped in a sliced-up gigantic sweet onion. It was so large that it filled the whole pot! But as they cooked, the mass reduced to about a third of that, so I had at least two cups of THE most delicious golden onions to put with the rich broth I had just made.
Surely French Onion Soup would ensue, yah? That had been the plan, but . . .
Nope, that didn’t happen. Once the brain and stomach got together, they decided that this soup needed to be much heartier, and there were all those lovely, already cooked potatoes, and those giant mushrooms in the refrigerator just begging to be included with the fresh broth.
So . . . to make this into “Cream of”, I mixed up a slurry of powdered whole milk and flour, with some liquid milk to moisten it, and everything came together quite gloriously.
On a lark, I grabbed the wedge of Danish Blue cheese, and we sprinkled tiny bits of it onto the top of the soup and let it melt into the melange of deliciousness that was already there. That was definitely just the finial that was needed.
I don’t remember which of Penzey’s Spices I put into the soup while I was cooking it, but what you can see on top is “Salsa & Pico”, which is quickly becoming my “go to”, all-purpose sprinkle when I want just a touch of “South of the Border” flavor, but not full-on Mexican.
For a deepened body for otherwise “vanilla” soups and dishes, I liberally include Trinidad, which is a lovely combination of salt, lemon peel, garlic (small amount – YAY!), cloves and ginger. It is supposed to be used with a bit of oil as a marinade, but I find that a generous sprinkle improves many dishes with this “just right” touch of brightness.
It deepens the feeling of the dish itself without projecting its own personality. But oftentimes, that ambience seems to be just what is needed, so adding more at table can produce the satisfaction of “just right”.
And the best part? There is still enough of this wonderful soup left in the refrigerator for another lunchtime extravaganza!