Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Anise & Me

Being that it is Wednesday evening, I think we should all settle down with a drink of choice in the crook of a cushy couch and let out a good, long sigh. Maybe gaze out a window at the people moving about in the dim light of an ending day, at the rain drops collecting on your window screen, or turn your attention back toward the warmth of the room you're in and give thanks for the people also living under your roof (if not applicable, give thanks for this roof you are fortunate to possess). At least that's what I'm trying to do today. I find that it's the best way to find energy for the last two days of a weary week.

I'm also trying to figure out what to tell you about the soup I made myself for dinner tonight. It falls somewhere between heavenly and ho-hum. Within this wide spectrum, I'd probably place it at "disappointing." Maybe my hopes were too high, but when I read the words star anise, red wine, and gruyere, I immediately filed this variation on french onion soup into the forefront of my mind, determine to collect the necessary ingredients over the course of the next week.

The attractive little red onions at the farmer's market motivated me further (bordering the white ones).

So, today was the day for my eagerly anticipated, first ever, french onion soup. The entire process was simple and brief (about half an hour), though a little too much time in front of the stove for a warm September night like this, but I was determined (and too exasperated with Texas's relentless heat to care).

The disappointment came with the lack of wow factor in this dish. Without the bubbly gruyere and thick slice of rustic bread, it would have been barely tolerable. The dominating flavor in the broth was the anise, and, while I gravitated toward this recipe because of the anise-touch, I found myself resenting it once the soup was made. I seem to have a vague memory of eating or drinking something with too much anise in it, and that memory was awakened during my supper.

I so want to like anise. In fact, I refuse to state that I don't. We're just in the midst of an uncomfortable relationship right now. Maybe if it was a more subtle flavor in my long-dreamed-of french red onion soup, I wouldn't find it so disagreeable.

If there is a next time for this soup, I will be using only one whole star anise. Between now and then, I do expect to be trying more french onion soups. I want to go back to the classic and learn what that tastes like. I want to bake up more whole wheat country bread and cut the leftovers into big slices to go in the freezer until it's time to grate a pile of soft, pungent gruyere, and generously sprinkle the stringy cheese on top of the wedge of bread, already soaking up the heat and juices of sweet, oniony broth. Broiled and bubbly, this makes any soup weigh toward the side of heavenly, even if anise and I do not like each other.

Let me know what you think:
French Red Onion Soup Recipe

I am also interested in your favorite french onion soup recipe!

1 comment:

GrantJM said...

I love that you share your disappointing attempts as well. All the ingredients alone sounded good to me too. I had some simple acorn squash with butter for dinner tonight while watching the sun set. It tasted so much better for the scenery.