This recipe is based on one that I originally had in Halifax, NS, at Cafe Chianti, in 2008, while in town for a conference. I happened to be there the first night and tried the lobster bisque, which took me back to the restaurant twice more during my 4 day stay.
It’s been a long time since I was there, so not sure if this is quite as good as the original, but it’s satisfying to me and regularly complimented.
I normally make this recipe with lobster, as per the original, but on the day that photos were shot, I was using crayfish, hence “crawdads” in the title.
It’s neither a soup nor a stew, but it is a curry, and it’s one of those great dishes that simply feels good no matter what time of day you have it, but especially in the winter. It has long been one of my favourite takeout/delivery meals for a rainy/cold day and I love it as leftovers for breakfast on the weekends.
As with so many things that they are used in, the onions you choose can really make or break this dish. Be sure to use a nice flavourful Spanish onion for the best results.
I’ve loved mole sauce since the first time I tried it, and the best I’ve ever tasted was in a cantina in Blaine, Washington, just across the border from Canada. My mom had taken me there for lunch and while it was a simple restaurant, the food was stellar. I have tried for years to reproduce that sauce and with this combination, believe that I have hit the jackpot. For my own most recent batch, I rendered the pork fat off of the rind of some double-smoked bacon, gaining particularly delicious results.
This recipe is designed to make a lot because it’s enough trouble to go to that I want lots on hand when I make it and delicious enough that I will use it up in a year’s time….and it makes a great gift.
French onion soup is a favourite for many, and simpler to make than most believe. As with all soups, the key is the right ingredients; a good stock, fresh onions and the right kind…not the cheapest by the bag onions, but big, juicy, sweet ones…Spanish onions, Vidalias, something with a full flavour.
Aside from any quantities given here, a good rule of thumb is one onion, 1.5 – 2 cups of stock , and a couple of teaspoons of port or sherry (I prefer port) per serving.
One personal favourite trick is that while the soup is simmering, I like to toss in a few parmesan rinds to add body and flavour. This is a nice trick with most soups, but especially good with French Onion, as it normally does get finished with cheese.
For a vegan stock ,Alison Cole recommends Better Than Boullion. We are looking for a great recipe for one though.
The types of vegetables you use, and their relative amounts are variable, and can be based on the vegetables you have available, and want to use. What matters is that you have more or less 5 cups of mixed vegetables to begin with.
Starting with onions and garlic is always a good place, and certain types of vegetables, like carrots, parsnips, root vegetables in general, and hard squash, are good additions, giving body to a blended soup without need of added flour.
As to cheese, I used a hearty smoked provolone In this version, but feel free to use your own taste or available ingredients to guide you…with a preference for medium soft cheeses that melt well.