The most perfect onomatopoeia.
I give credit to my treasured friend Jo Koster for sharing this word to sum up our miserable weather. I’m afraid there is a lot to be said for the idea of living in the desert when you have to endure days of gray, low-hanging clouds and intermittent cold, wet drismal happening all over the place.
Soup is always the answer, but I’m limited in ingredients right now and want to try using what I have without venturing out into the mess. Plus, the house is well insulated and starting to smell closed and stuffy from being huddled up in the heat. Onion soup is a distinct possibility because there are six onions sitting on the counter. I have some garlic that will sprout soon if I don’t use it. I have some chicken stock and discovered a pound of Baucom’s ground beef in the freezer.
I ended up making this onion soup with tiny meatballs. The intense caramelized onion smell in the house is making me a little dizzy. I can’t wait to curl up in my chair with a blanket, a cat, a good book, and a bowl of this soup for dinner.
I also get to share a bowl of this with a dear friend. We will have time for a good “chin wag” as she says and then follow up with something sweet and a cup of earl gray tea.
As if that is not exciting enough, my canine boyfriend has consented to come along to share some love and give me a little bit of foot warming under the table.
Jago, A.K.A. “Hero Cattledog of the Carolinas,” is an Australian Cattle Dog. His mom says he likes dressing in a blue cape and has winged boots in blue and silver. We argue often about what his voice would be like if he could talk. She says he has a southern accent like Andy Griffith because he was rescued from somewhere in the North Carolina mountains. Andy was a smart guy and shared some potent wisdom from time to time… BUT…. I think Jago would sound more like Sean Connery. God help us all if he could talk because just his sweet brown eyes rolled up in my general direction makes me swoon. What if he had a Scottish accent too?
Anyway. A day with a canine visit is something wonderful in my world. Sharing a bowl of soup filled with tiny little meatballs with someone dear makes for blue skies and sunbeams any day!
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 6 sweet onions, cut into thin half moons
- 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 1 quart water
- 4 ounces (a large handful) of dried shitake mushrooms
- ½ cup boiling water to soak the dried mushrooms
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 whole head garlic, peeled and smashed
- 2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 2 tsp. dried thyme, divided
- 2 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
- 1 tsp. granulated garlic
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
- Heat oven to 325 degrees
- Heat a Dutch oven or oven proof pot on medium high heat and add 1 Tbsp. olive oil plus 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter.
- Add sliced onions and smashed garlic and stir to coat with the oil. Allow to cook for about four minutes and stir occasionally
- Add 1 tsp. salt and stir. Then add the wine and soy sauce and stir well.
- Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in the hot oven and cook for two and a half hours. After the first hour, remove from the oven and carefully remove the lid. Give the onion mixture a stir and replace the lid and return to the oven. I do this partly to see if the liquid is keeping the onions from sticking and partly to make the house smell good.
- When the onions have been cooking for two hours, cover a sheet pan with parchment and place the ground beef in a mixing bowl. Add one tsp. each of the salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and dried thyme and mix this all together with your hands.
- Pinch off small pieces of the beef and roll into meatballs. You may want larger meatballs, but I made mine about ½ inch in size. Arrange evenly on the sheet pan and set aside.
- In a heatproof bowl or measuring cup, cover the dried shitake mushrooms with boiling water to soak.
- Remove the onions from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place the meatballs in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
- Check for doneness. Give them a shake and return to the oven if they need to cook a bit longer. Remember these are going into the soup, so do not overcook!
- While the meatballs are baking, place the onion pan over medium high heat and add 1 tsp. of dried thyme and the remaining ground pepper.
- Add the thinly sliced carrots and strain the mushroom soaking water into the pot along with the re-hydrated mushrooms and stir well.
- Add 1 quart of chicken stock and 1 quart of water and stir.
- Cover well and reduce to a low simmer.When the carrots are tender (15 to 20 minutes), add the meatballs to the soup mixture. Stir and simmer together for 15 minutes and up to one hour.
- Taste for salt and serve with a grated fresh Parmesan cheese.