Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Smoky Bacon and Onion Soup

Smoky Bacon and Onion Soup

I spend most of my time in the kitchen.  It’s my favorite space in this house, a house my father has always called a kitchen with a bedroom attached. It’s a large, open space, with a fully fitted kitchen, lots of counter space and a den attached where I do most of my work on the computer.  The den opens on to a sunroom with huge windows so the light pours in.  That’s where I take most of my pictures.  The space is perfect for me.  One of the many benefits of living in the kitchen is the wonderful scents that permeate the space.  I never miss out on the fragrant bread baking, the sweet cookie smell, the rich stew braising.  I love to write a recipe while its aromas waft over me.  And I snuggle up on the couch with a good book and a delicious smell.

My favorite kitchen fragrances are bacon cooking and onions caramelizing, so you can imagine how much I love this soup.  It fills my house with the aromas of warmth and comfort and fully follows through on the promise.  This soup has the feel of a Spanish version of French Onion, rich, sweet onions made smoky with bacon and smoked paprika, and rich with tomatoes.  I particularly love the soup accompanied by a Fontina Cheese Toastie or two.

Smoky Bacon and Onion Soup

1 ½ pounds sweet yellow onion (about 2 large)

5 strips smoked bacon

2 Tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram leaves

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

6 cups chicken broth

Slice the onions into very thin half-moons using a mandolin.  I you do not have a mandolin, shred the onions in the food processor using the grating blade. And of course, you can go carefully with a sharp knife. You want nice, thin threads.

Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry in a 5-quart Dutch oven until the bacon is crispy.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon pieces to paper towels to drain.  Turn off the heat and let the bacon grease cool for several minutes, then add the butter and let it melt.  Turn the heat back to medium and add the onions.  Stir to coat the onions completely in the bacon fat and butter, then cover the pot.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and golden brown.  Do not let the onions burn or turn dark brown.  They need to cook gently to a caramelized softness.  When the onions are soft, stir in the marjoram and continue cooking, covered, until the onions are evenly golden.  Stir in the paprika and cook for five more minutes, making sure the onions don’t scorch.

Add the crushed tomatoes and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.  Add half of the cooked bacon and cook until heated through.  Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 20 minutes.

Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed. Just before serving, stir in the remaining bacon pieces.

Makes 4 big bowls

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