I’ve gone on a bit in the past about cooking and cookbooks. Recently I have found it remarkable that I am referencing my cookbooks less as I become more comfortable with cooking aboard. I sometimes look at them for inspiration but I seem to pull a lot of “recipes” out of thin air based on what we have in the cupboards at the time. What is this world coming to?
Last week I had some fresh veggies on hand and, being that it’s still winter, decided a hearty soup would be just the thing.
My eyes were streaming as I sliced onions and I warned Peter and Jamey that they would soon be feeling the effects as it wafted through the boat. Sure enough, the complaints started. Some people, including my spouse, seem to be very susceptible to onions.
Why do onions make us cry? I’m glad you asked because here is a youtube video that will ‘splain it:
There must have been a lot of sulfer in the ground when these particular onions were grown. And so while I was reassuring everyone that all would soon be well Peter noticed that Winston, who was sitting on his lap, was particularly…um…drippy. This was far beyond standard drooling levels.
Winston was crying too!
Lola wasn’t quite as affected though her little eyes were filled with tears.
The whole boat was crying! We put them outside in the fresh air and had a hearty laugh through our tears. Everyone dried up once the onions were cooked and soon there were just delicious smells in the air.
Being the mean cat parents that we are; they didn’t even get any soup…
See the recipe below if you want to make some for yourself!
Cryin’ Boat Soup
This soup will make you cry when you’re prepping it and cry with happiness when you’re eating it because it’s so darn good.
8 (big) servings
prep time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 45 minutes (pressure cooker), 1 hour 20 minutes (stock pot)
Stove with burner
6L pressure cooker or stock pot with lid
Immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor
3 white or yellow onions (make sure they’re the ones with lots of sulfenic acid so you and yours are sure to cry like babies!)
3 tbs butter or olive oil
a pinch of baking soda*
3 baking potatoes
3-4 stalks of broccoli
2 cloves garlic
3 stalks of celery or 1/2 tsp celery salt
4 cups of chicken or veggie broth
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 – 1 cup grated cheese of your choice – I used cheddar (this can be omitted if you are lactose intolerant, vegan, or don’t have any cheese on hand)
salt and pepper to taste
Cut onions in half from roots to stalk end (if the onion were the earth and the roots and stalk the poles you want to cut along the poles, not along the equator). With the flat side of the onion on the cutting board cut a small slice off the stalk end of each half and remove the outer brown skin. Start slicing thinly (1/8”-1/4”) from the cut stalk end until you reach the root end (the root end holds all the layers together making slicing much faster and easier). You should be left with lots of little half moons of onion.
Melt the butter/heat the oil in your pressure cooker over medium-low heat and toss in your onion slices, stirring to break up. When your onion is translucent, sprinkle in the pinch of baking soda, lock on the lid and bring up to high pressure (mine is 15 lbs). Cook under pressure for 20 minutes, turn off the burner and manually release the pressure (be safe people. If you have a pressure cooker make sure you are familiar with all instructions). Your onions should have transformed into caramelized, brown, yummy, flavorful deliciousness.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, melt the butter/add the oil to your stock pot over low heat, add the onions and baking soda and stir for 10-20 minutes until caramelized. You can just as easily skip this step if it’s too much of a PITA.
While the onions are cooking in the pressure cooker (stock pot people: do this after the onions are finished!) scrub the potatoes to remove all dirt (you’re going to keep the skins on) and cut into large dice.
Cut the crowns of broccoli off the stalks and cut or break into medium sized pieces. Cut the dried and woody ends off the stalks then peel off the hard skin which looks like bark of a tree around the cut end of the stalk. The easiest way to peel the stalks is to slice slightly from the cut end of the stalk and, using your thumb to hold the cut piece against the flat side of the knife blade, peel off the skin. The skin is more tender the closer to the crown you get so don’t worry too, too much. You can also use a vegetable peeler if the above instructions don’t make sense. We are just trying to preserve as much of the broccoli as we can, so don’t throw out those stalks! Cut the stalks into 1″ pieces.
Remove the garlic from the head, cut the hard end off and smash the cloves with the flat side of a heavy knife. Peel off the papery bits and set aside, no need to cut up. Feel free to use 1-2 more cloves of garlic if you really like it.
Cut the celery (if using) into 1” pieces. If there are leafy tops on your stalks so much the better!
- For bonus flavor points: coat the cut up veggies lightly with olive oil and roast in the oven at 350° Fahrenheit for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Stir half way through then proceed as below.
By this time the onions in the pressure cooker should be done. Toss all your veggies into the pot, add broth, celery salt (if not using fresh celery), potatoes, broccoli, garlic, cayenne pepper, and parsley. Give everything a stir and check your ingredients. If there are lots of veggies above the level of broth (more than 2” of veggies in the pressure cooker and more than 1” of veggies in the stock pot) add water to bring to that level. You definitely don’t want the liquid to cover the veggies, we are going for a thick and hearty soup that will keep us sailing and/or doing boat projects tomorrow!
In the pressure cooker: put the lid on and bring up to high pressure. Cook for 20 minutes then turn off the burner and manually release the pressure.
In the stock pot: put the lid on and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and stir every 15-20 minutes to make sure all veggies get their turn to cook under the level of broth. Once the veggies are cooked down, you can smash a potato against the side of the pot with your spoon and the broccoli pieces break up easily, turn off the burner.
Use your immersion blender to blend all ingredients to a purée. If using a regular blender or food processor, transfer portions of the soup to the jar and purée. Make sure to vent the top and watch out for that steam! Transfer puréed soup back to the pot. If your soup is thinner than you would like it to be simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, until it reaches desired consistency. If it’s too thick add a little water.
Add grated cheese (if using) and stir to combine.
Add salt and pepper and any other spices you think it needs so it all tastes yummy.
Feed to hungry sailors.