French Onion Soup

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it like I have but everything we do in life lately seems to be all about the new and improved, the bigger and better version of what has already been done.  Most movies are remakes of classics, technology is something we all must have the newest version of and the old version is usually only six months old.  Even restaurants and chefs have to try to do something new with the old and revered.  Maybe I’m just getting older but sometimes I don’t want the new and improved.  I want the classic, the thing that’s been tested time and again and can stand on its own merit.

I want French Onion Soup.

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I could have done this the easy way and gone to some restaurant, but I don’t think even they take the time to do it right, as it always seems bland and tasteless.  It’s a classic and deserves the respect and the time needed to make it wonderfully satisfying and flavorful.  I turned to the one person I knew that gave it that respect, the one person that started us all down the road of loving food.

I turned to Julia Child and Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

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Don’t be intimidated by this book or the fact that Julia is the guru of fine cooking.  She makes everything so simple to follow.  She also uses wine and cognac in this recipe, so if you’re anything like me, you like it already!

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To do this right it is a process.  You can’t skimp on the time or the effort it takes.  If you do you will lose the richness and the flavor it gives you.  This is one of those recipes where you will again take the first spoonful, close your eyes and savor the deep beef broth, the sweetness of the onions and the texture of the toast.  The only word you will be able to usher in a soft breath is “YUM”.

It’s that good.

A Lighter Stuffed Pepper

This is my favorite time of year.  THE HOLIDAYS!  It’s about good friends, good times and good food.  (Good parties aren’t really so bad either).  Christmas is actually my favorite, with Thanksgiving a close second as far as food and parties go, but I really do love the Thanksgiving leftovers.  (I know there are more out there like me, so admit it)  Seriously, I could cook everything up, skip the dinner and just save all the food for the next day.  That is how much I love it.

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The standard turkey sandwich is one of the best ways to go, but my mom’s turkey rice soup is pretty incredible too.  The only problem is I have so many leftovers left over, that it becomes boring with the choices I have to use them all up.  I think, however, I may have stumbled on a pretty good addition to the leftover madness that ensues.

This is a recipe that I have worked out with turkey sausage and the recipe follows.  An alternative of course would be to use the equivalent of chopped turkey. If you do use the chopped turkey, it may tend to be a bit on the drier side so definitely add a bit more olive oil to the mix when you’re cooking it with the onions.  You could also add a bit of leftover gravy to keep it moist.  The options are endless!  I also used Tatsoi, which is a hardy green, sort of like a spinach or kale relative.  If you can’t find it (I found mine at the farmer’s market) you can always substitute with spinach or kale.

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The fun thing about this is you can really use anything you want.  Stuffed peppers are typically made with rice and ground beef and lots of cheese, but I’m trying to go the heart healthy way more often, so this is why I decided on this formula.  Get creative and use those leftovers up!  After all, it’s going to be another whole year before we can do this again!

A Lighter Stuffed Pepper

Course Entree
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 large bell peppers, cleaned out of membranes and top removed.
  • 1 cup Israel couscous, cooked according to directions
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (if using canned, drain first)
  • 1/2 cup chopped Tatsoi (you can also use spinach or kale)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated asiago, cheddar or cheese of choice (optional) for topping

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Bring a pot of water (enough to cover peppers) to a boil.

  3. Place peppers in the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

  4. Cook couscous according to directions. Set aside.

  5. Add a small amount of cooking oil to a pan and add turkey sausage. Cook for about 5 minutes or until brown and break into small pieces.

  6. Add onions and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes until onions are soft.

  7. Add diced tomatoes and heat through for another 2 to 3 minutes.

  8. Add reserved couscous and stir into sausage mixture until well combined.

  9. Remove from heat and add goat cheese and Tatsoi. Stir to combine.

  10. Season with salt and pepper.

  11. Fill reserved bell peppers with sausage mixture, packing slightly. Top with additional cheese if desired.

  12. Place in a casserole dish small enough to fit tightly so they don’t fall over and bake for about 20 minutes until heated through. (they can be frozen at this point if you choose)

  13. Serve immediately.

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