I love to make recipes from different areas of the world. I feel even though I may have never been to very many places, I can get a taste of what the natives are eating. (Unless there are areas where natives are eating natives, I won’t do that.)

I sometimes am hesitant to write about my attempts in fear of them not being authentic. People get so hopped up when you aren’t genuine or real with things.

Example….this one time I put on a super padded bra. It was kind of neat to see how different I looked but when I walked out of my bedroom, my husband just looked. At first, he cocked his head and tried to decide what was different. When the light bulb turned on, he walked right over and started to knock on them!!! (Is this why some people call them knockers?) I’m not sure why this was his instinct but I have stopped questioning his actions.

I sort of expected a compliment but instead he said I looked like I had Magic Shell all over my chest. (Do you remember Magic Shell? It was a syrup you poured over ice cream to give it a hard shell.) For a second, he was very excited. It faded quickly when he realized that under that top wasn’t two mounds of delicious vanilla ice cream covered in a crispy shell, it was only me. Sigh.

Those kinds of experience have molded me into a person who wants to keep it real and stay true to what is below the shirt, I mean the recipe. It can’t always be done because of sourcing the ingredients.

Maybe it would be easier just not to call my dishes by the regional names and just be more literal? If I just called my Philadelphia Cheesesteak, a cheesy steak sandwich would the world be less critical? Maybe I could call my Dim Sum, little Asian appetizers? Or even something like a Carbonara called Pasta with bacon, peas and cream?

I thought of this over the weekend when I made “French” onion soup. I had looked up a lot of recipes for inspiration. So many of them used veal stock and Gruyere cheese.

Well, I didn’t have time to make homemade stock, let alone search out veal bones. Plus I couldn’t find Gruyere cheese anywhere local. ARGHH! All I could think of is that I was going to make a version of French Onion Soup but then get crucified because of it’s lack of authenticity.

But then it clicked….I won’t call it French. I’ll just call it Small Town Onion Soup. No one can argue with the validity of that recipe. (Did you know when French onion soup was first “invented” it was more of a poor person’s soup since onions were so cheap?  They probably lived in small towns and wrote blogs.)

The recipe I am posting is pretty much based upon this one from Bon Appetit. (Click here for the original) I didn’t make veal stock, used different cheese and added more sherry. I never ate the version on the recipe but I can only assume it was delicious because mine was outstanding too.

I guess what I learned from this soup making experience is that it is okay not to be 100% genuine all the time but at least be aware when you aren’t. (And never wear a padded bra again!)

Small Town Onion Soup
This soup was based on Petite Trois’s French Onion Soup recipe that was posted in Bon Appetit. I, obviously, made some different choices but that was just to suit what was available in my area or pantry.
  • 8 cups low sodium beef stock
  • 3 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 3 pounds onions, THINLY sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, sliced in half down the center
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 6 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • toasted baguette slices
  • thinly sliced mozzarella cheese (it was all I could find….)
  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Place garlic, cut side down, in pot and cook undisturbed until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer garlic to a plate. (You will use half in your stock and use the other half to smear on bread)
  3. The original recipe states the following
  4. “Add onions to same pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally at first and then more often as onions darken to keep them from getting too brown in any one spot, until golden but not mushy, 60–70 minutes (and no, this process can’t be rushed at a higher temperature)”.
  5. If you notice you are getting too brown too fast, lower the heat. My pot got extremely hot so I gave it a splash of water to cool it down. It added time but was better than burning my onions.
  6. Add Sherry and stir, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot.
  7. Stir in beef stock and tomato paste.
  8. Bundle up half the garlic head, thyme, and bay leaf in cheesecloth and tie closed with kitchen twine. Add to pot; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by at least one quarter.
  9. Taste for seasoning.
  10. Get your soup bowls ready.
  11. Fill each bowl almost to the top. (I find it easiest to fill the bowls while they are on a plate.)
  12. Top with a baguette slice. (I rubbed my bread with some of the roasted garlic because I love garlic)
  13. Top with cheese.
  14. I used my creme brûlée torch and melted the cheese.
  15. If you don’t have one of those, fill your OVEN SAFE bowls with soup on a baking sheet and put them under the broiler until melted.
  16. Be careful when pulling it out of oven but it will be hot!!
  17. Enjoy!!!