Rich and satisfying, this easy soup has a touch of honey for a subtle, earthy sweetness that perfectly compliments the slowly oven-caramelized shallots. If you haven't fully embraced shallots as a part of your culinary vocabulary, then you've been missing out. Shallots - such a favorite in every French kitchen - bring a sweeter, more delicately nuanced flavor profile than onions, which are 'hotter'.
But, here's the real benefit of this soup. It's just as wonderful as a sauce! In fact, a couple nights after making it for lunch, I served the leftover soup as the base for Butternut Squash, or Pumpkin, or Eggplant Ravioli topped with gently steamed Swiss Chard.
Since I usually make enough of any soup so that I can add some to the freezer, I thought I'd make even better use of it as the base for a baked eggplant and garbanzo bean dish.
Yeah, that's the magic of batch cooking. Making more of basic items like this soup give you the flexibility to nip and tuck, zig and zag your efforts in a number of different dishes.
First, oven caramelize the shallots. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Simply peel and slice 'em, separate the layers and put them into an ovenproof pot with a lid. I season them now with a few pinches of salt, pepper and McCormick Old Bay seasoning. Bake the shallots for about 3-40 minutes. Turn and toss the shallots about halfway through.
The caramelized shallots should be very tender and almost translucent. BTW this is a simple way to caramelize onions, too. I'll often take a couple pounds of onions and oven caramelize them just like this. Maybe with a splash of white wine. Maybe a Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc? Or an amber ale? Yeah. Like that. Think of all you can do with that, my friend! Like a killer Onion Soup. Or an onion sauce or gravy. Oh, and as you can see, I simply used one of my cast iron pans with a heavy-ish lid to oven caramelize the shallots.
While the shallots are cooking, prep the remaining ingredients for soup making. Yes, I realize that I harp on about setting up your Mise en Place when cooking. But, it's essential to carrying out a flawless dish. Really. Restaurant chefs know this. So should you.
When the shallots are done, you can add them to the soup pot with the Wondra. Cook them a few minutes over medium heat, mixing and tossing to 'cook' the flour. If you don't have some Wondra in your kitchen, you should. It makes gravy so easy that you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.
After you've cooked off the 'raw' from the flour, add the rest of your ingredients and simmer the soup for about 15 minutes. Then, get your immersion blender out to puree the soup. You can also use a stand blender, but puree the soup in batches.
You're not after a velvety smooth soup, but something a bit more 'rustic'. If it's thicker than you like, add more broth. But, I like to leave it thicker, and thin it (if needed) depending on how I intend to use it for each application/dish. Thinner as a soup, thicker for a sauce.
Add the honey. Stir. Taste. Adjust seasonings. Taste again. This is where I'll add the delightful Summer Garden Salt-Free Herb Blend from The Spice House in Chicago. I use this herb blend a LOT. It's especially good in Ratatouille. Oh, and a splash of the Maggi Arome ... which is a French version of Worcestershire sauce.
Let the soup simmer over the lowest heat for about 15 minutes or until it's heated through.
Oh, and this is where I take part of my soup and vacuum-pack it for the freezer. Yeah. Thinking ahead.