Dem bones, dem bones...
If it weren't for bones, slow-roasted in the oven until they turn a deep, dark brown, there would be no really great beef stock. Without great beef stock, there would be no great French onion soup.
Seems like I'm always making chicken stock — roasting a bird, tossing the carcass into a pot with some aromatic vegetables and water — but I can count on one hand the number of times in my cooking life that I've made beef stock.
I think it's dem bones.
When every family did its own butchering, bones were abundant. (Actually, I grew up in New York City, where we didn't butcher anything except an occasional culinary experiment.) I never seem to have leftover beef bones, so in order to make stock, I have to buy bones.
Instead, I keep beef broth in my pantry. I don't use it often, and when I do, I usually combine it with homemade chicken stock. Now you know the secret to my own French onion soup.
Zuni corn soup
When I travel, I look for local cookbooks and wooden spoons to bring home as mementos. This recipe is adapted from Southwest Indian Cookbook: Pueblo and Navajo Images, Quotes and Recipes, by Marcia Keegan, a photojournalist who collected these recipes during her 20 years of travel throughout the Southwest. For more great soup recipes, visit A Veggie Venture, which features amazing soups from around the world, through the end of this month. Serves 6.
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 cups lamb shoulder, diced
3 cups water
3 cups beef broth
2 cups dried posole corn or canned hominy
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground red chile
Sauté onion in oil in a large heavy saucepan, until onion is slightly wilted. Add lamb, water and broth, and simmer until tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Add corn, salt and chile, and cook until tender (if you're using canned hominy, cook for at least 20 minutes).
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