A few years ago, I drove out to a motel along the I95 highway near Fayetteville, NC for dinner. This was just for something different. When I looked at the menu, I saw that there was “French Onion Soup” as an option. My eyes lit up! I hadn’t had French Onion Soup in years. Not something you would make at home, and rarely an option for the restaurants that I normally visited during a week. I’m not sure when the first time that I had this soup, but my mind navigates toward my time in Louisville, KY and Gary Golden.
Gary was at Southern Seminary in the early 1980s when I was there. Gary was a “foodie” years before that would become a popular term. We shared an apartment for a while. During this time, I think he made some French Onion Soup. He ended up becoming a campus minister at Dartmouth (I think it was Dartmouth.) He was from Texas, Texarkana, where his mother still lived. One Christmas Holiday he drove down to Alabama and picked me up. We then went to Texarkana. He left me at his mother’s house while he went out to visit his old compadres.
I think we left his mom’s house on Christmas night and drove through the night toward Lousiville. Our route meant that we barely crossed through Arkansas in the early morning night. As the sun began to rise, I was driving and Gary was asleep… the sky became a beautiful burgundy tapestry, sort of like a beautiful old sofa, rippled and dimpled by tacks.
I think we spent a night at the Seminary and then drove across several states and spent a night with another friend of Gary’s in Maryland (maybe DC). Finally, we ended up in Vermont where Gary was living while ministering in NH at Dartmouth. We spent a couple of days at Gary’s place, and did not go out much. He had a wonderful view of the countryside for a great distance as the house was raised on stilts and there was a deep snow covering the land. *Deep may be a relative term. This would have been deep for the North Carolina coast where I grew up.
After a few days, Gary drove me down to Boston. I think the night before I was to fly out of the airport there for Jacksonville, NC. It seems that this might have been 1984. We ate at a restaurant in I think, Faneuil Hall Marketplace. I don’t recall the name of the restaurant, but I ordered both Boston Scrod and Boston Baked Beans. They don’t really go together, but I wanted to be able to say that I had eaten both. I’ve had better baked beans as these I seem to recall were under cooked and hard.
I think Gary and I stayed at a motel near the airport, although maybe not. I was reading a book on the airplane. I think it was Dune, and I recall hoping that we would land safely so that I could finish it. We had been above the clouds that morning and the sunrise was beautiful, but as we neared Jacksonville, we dropped down into the mist with no visibility until we were almost on the ground.
It must have been Mary Ann and/or Ray that picked me up at the airport. I don’t recall the visit much, but I flew out of Jacksonville for Charlotte at the end of my family visit. It was a quick flight, rising to a pinnacle and then almost immediately dropping at a similar angle to land. I recall looking down on the Carolina countryside which was not very far below. I don’t recall the friend that picked me up at the Charlotte Airport, but I think he had been one of my tennis buddies in Jacksonville and was going to school in the Charlotte area. The flight had taken about 30 minutes in the air, but I think it was an hour and a half on the ground before we were off the plane.
I took the bus from Charlotte and arrived at the main bus station in Atlanta, GA. The parents of a friend (from Lineville, AL) had driven to pick me up in Atlanta to take me back to Alabama. Their daughter was supposed to pick me up, but she had gone off to do other things.
I think this holiday was when I managed to go through 26 States in 15 days. If I had driven across the River in Louisville, I could have added another state (IN).
A few days ago, I thought of making some French Onion Soup at home… in the slow cooker. I had done this at least once before, several years ago. It had turned out well, and going online, I was reminded of how easy this can be. I had bought some Swiss Cheese slices, and then some yellow onions (so I wouldn’t waste the last of my Vidalia onions), and I think I purchased a box of Beef Broth, although the one I used, I had had for some time.
I might have fixed this yesterday, but in the morning I had turned on my dishwasher as I left to drive to Raleigh. I had my slow cooker crock pot in the washer. To my surprise, when I returned, I checked the dishwasher and the crock and saw that it was still dirty. I checked the other dishes and they had not been cleaned either. I looked down and saw there was no detergent in the first tray, but the second tray was still closed. This was proof that I had started the washer, but something odd had occurred and the process had stopped somewhere along the way. I restarted the process and this time, it completed successfully.
This morning, perhaps closer to noon or 12:30 pm, I got the crock out and started chopping some yellow onions. I used a couple of large ones, and a medium sized onion. Some olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, freshly ground pepper and a little powdered garlic… turn on High and go off to do other things. After several hours, I added the box of Beef Broth and a little extra water, and some salt. Later, I went to sleep during the afternoon.
I awoke about 6:30 pm.
Eventually, I got out a soup bowl (with small handles). I sliced some French bread and buttered the slices, adding some powdered garlic and toasted them up. While they were toasting, I got out the Swiss Cheese slices. I ladelled some soup out of the crock into the bowl, placed the toasted bread across the top and finished by adding the Swiss Cheese, and a little grated Parmesean over the top. I put the broiler on HI and put the bowl on the top rack of the oven. I checked several times, not wanting this to burn, and noting smoke coming off of something in the oven.
I got out a dinner plate and took the hot bowl out of the oven with my pot holders and took it and a spoon to my easy chair in the living room.
I dipped the spoon into the cheese, bread and soup and lifted it up, the cheese stringing high above the bowl. I blew on the hot soup and then into my mouth. Delicious! So easy to make. It takes a little time, but so worth it.
Okay, so it’s about time for some more “home made” Chili. Same slow cooker, but I’ve now found some special flavors that I like… The dried Spanish Chorizo and extra Paprika (alot of Paprika), with a little sweetner.