Thursday, February 18, 2010

Julia Child's Soubise Recipe
(Onion & Rice Casserole)

Call onions the steady-eddies of cooking, we cook them every day but rarely take notice. Thanks to this classic French side dish called 'soubise' [pronounced soo-BEEZ], we'll never take onions for granted again. Soubise combines thin ribbons of onion with rice and a little cream and cheese. Dreamy. Heavenly. Ethereal. Addictive. Yes, it's that good.

The Conversation: Who stands up for kohlrabi and green beans?

Julia Child's Soubise (Onion & Rice Casserole) ♥ Dreamy. Heavenly. Ethereal. Addictive. Yes, it's that good.

" is fantastic!" ~ HeatherCheryl
"... the family had only one comment: double the recipe next time!!!" ~ Anonymous
"OH.MY.WORD." ~ Pamela

When Norman Borlaug died at age 95 last fall, it saddened me that his life’s work was vilified. Borlaug was the Midwestern scientist who championed modern farming practices across the world, not unlike, isn’t it so? the indigenous American peoples who bioengineered corn and potatoes millennia before. Borlaug’s work in agronomy, genetics and plant pathology is credited with saving a billion people from starvation. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970.

Then there’s St. Louis’ own Monsanto, the company whose Round-Up and genetically modified (GMO) seeds evoke controversy. In 2006, Monsanto formed a vegetable and fruit seed division to develop new strains of broccoli, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, melons and more.

First out of the dirt is a mild onion called EverMild introduced this month by Monsanto and St. Louis’ largest grocery chain, the family-owned Schnucks Markets. I attended a media lunch where chefs prepared an all-onion meal, everything from caramelized onion pizza and French onion soup (delicious!) to a fruity onion sorbet (no thanks).

Call me conflicted. Nobody stands up for kohlrabi, say, like Kraft stands up for Kool-Aid. Nobody stands up for green beans, say, like General Mills stands up for Golden Grahams.

So when science and investment produce higher-yielding, disease resistant, longer-lasting, better-tasting or more nutritious vegetables and fruits, isn’t that what we ask and expect from American ingenuity? Isn’t that a sign of human progress, not a certain problem?

If it takes a company the size of Walmart versus the passion of Whole Foods (see “The Great Grocery Smackdown” from this month’s Atlantic) to save small family farms, can we allow the possibility that the Monsantos of the world must be afforded the chance to contribute?

Thoughts, readers? Do we want companies to stand up for fruits and vegetables? Can we afford to? Can we afford "not" to?

No debate about Julia Child’s recipe for Soubise [pronounced soo-BEEZ], the onion and rice side dish: it’s fabulous. My friend Anne Cori calls it "French risotto without the stirring" but the rice almost melts into the noodle-like strips of onion. Come to think of it, yes, with eyes closed and tastebuds open, there’s a mac ‘n’ cheese dimension to soubise, a swanky grown-up mac ‘n ‘cheese, for sure, but mac ‘n’ cheese nonetheless. Pair it with meat, a roast chicken, say, or thin slices of rare beef tenderloin or even as the "starch" with a weekend pot roast or brisket. Last week, I served it with Moroccan Chicken, twas dreamy.

COOKING with Monsanto’s EVERMILD Onions The onions are supposedly tearless but in my experience, not. Because I wear contacts, I never have trouble crying over cut onions but with EverMild, I did, so did two others who helped cut vegetables for a family birthday party. (I know, I know, this is a bad sign.) EverMild onions are "long day" onions for harvest in the fall, sold up until March, when Georgia’s famous Vidalia onions, "short day" onions harvested in the spring, become available. For the moment, EverMild onions are only available at Schnucks Markets in St. Louis. More about Monsanto EverMild Onions and St. Louis’ only newspaper doing investigative journalism, Riverfront Times.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 90 minutes
Makes 4 cups
  • 2 cups salted water (or enough to cover)
  • 1/2 cup rice (see TIPS)
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick, see TIPS)
  • 2 pounds onions, trimmed, peeled and sliced very thin (see TIPS)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyère (about 1 ounce), (see TIPS)

Preheat oven to 300F/150C.

RICE Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the rice and cook for exactly 5 minutes. Drain immediately.

ONIONS Melt the butter on medium heat in a large oven-safe skillet (see TIPS) with a lid. Drop in the onions as they’re prepped, stirring to coat with butter. Once all the onions are in, briefly sauté them. Stir in the rice, salt and pepper.

BAKE Cover and bake for an hour, stirring once or twice. Remove from the oven, stir in the cream and cheese. If the rice is still a little undone, return to the oven for 10 – 60 minutes (see TIPS). Serve and savor. Can be made ahead and reheated.

ALANNA’s TIPS My favorite rice for soubise is the Arborio so often used in risotto. But don't worry, any white rice will work fine. Brown rice works too but needs to be cooked longer than white rice, aim for "al dente" so just before done. Less butter works too, I’ve used as few as two tablespoons butter. But with less fat, do watch the onions carefully as they cook, so not to scorch. For onions, use a cooking onion like a yellow onion or a sweet onion like a Vidalia, once they’re in season. With careful knife work, it is possible to slice the onions thin-thin-thin. Faster, however, is the slicing blade on a food processor. My favorite slicer for this dish is a mandoline, also called a Benriner. Cut the onions in halves or quarters, place flat-side down on the blade to peel off ribbons of onion. Please, do wear the finger blade and review my tips for how to safely use a mandoline. For cheese, Gruyère is traditional and adds a gooey-nuttiness that’s fabulous. But I first became smitten with soubise made with goat cheese, the tang played beautifully off the savory onions. Many cheeses would work, just avoid an oily cheese such as cheddar. For appearance’s sake, I like to combine the rice and onions on the stove but then transfer to a shallow dish like a quiche pan covered with foil for baking. An hour in the oven creates a dish that’s done – and delicious – and creamy-pale. When dinner ran late one night, I left the soubise in the oven for another hour and oo-la-la, the cream turned dark and nutty.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup: 145 Calories; 9g Tot Fat; 6g Sat Fat; 13mg Cholesterol; 132mg Sodium; 13g Carb; 2g Fiber; 4g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 3 & PointsPlus 4 & SmartPoints 6.
Adapted from a “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” class at Kitchen Conservatory, St Louis' amazing cooking school. The instructor, my friend Anne Cori, reports that her students all went home afterward to make her newbies for soubise themselves. I get this: I’ve made soubise three times and three ways in 10 days. Yes, it’s that good. Anne’s a fabulous cook and a regular inspiration. She’s also the Pastry Whisperer who taught me how to make Flaky Tender Pie Crust and for that, and for Julia Child’s Soubise recipe, and other life-changing introductions, I am ever grateful.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Are you an onion fan? Share a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like, just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

An Alanna-Style French Menu

Olivada on Crostini

Fast Roast Chicken
~ Julia Child's Soubise ~
(recipe above)
Salad Greens with My Favorite Dressing

Lemon or Coffee Pots

~ more French recipes ~

Homage to Julia Child

More Favorite Recipes for Side Dishes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Moroccan Onions Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions Leek Sauce for Pasta
~ more onion recipes ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2010, 2015 & 2016

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Rustic Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Carrots:
A Recipe to Love

On Valentine's Day, the 'Veggie Evangelist' expresses her new love, a marriage of sweet potatoes and carrots.

Rustic Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Carrots

Call me fickle but with each new year, I fall in love with a new vegetable, not the slick new-guy vegetable who rides into town but the boy-next-door vegetable, the one who’s been around forever but is suddenly appreciated with new tastebuds, progressing fast from infatuation to devotion and promises of everlasting love.

And then I move on. In 2006, my true love was beets. In 2007, I fell in love anew with green beans. In 2009, first the unlikely radish and then cubes of butternut squash captured my heart, spurred by finally figuring out how to safely cut up a butternut squash.

In 2010, my heart longs for a pair of ubiquitous root vegetables – everyday, inexpensive sweet potatoes and carrots – which merge like soulmates right in the cooking pot, even while maintaining distinct identities. Roughly mashed with a little butter, a pinch of sweet cardamom and a sprinkle of good salt, theirs is a marriage that will last a lifetime.

They don’t call me the ‘Veggie Evangelist’ for nothing! If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetables, it’s called A Veggie Venture and is home to 1000+ vegetable recipes.

ALANNA’s TIPS My old stove took for-evah to boil water. To move things along, I learned to heat an inch or two of water in the cooking pot, then add boiling water from a tea kettle. Worked like a charm! If there’s no cardamom in the cupboard, cinnamon and nutmeg work too, so does cumin for a savory version.
Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Become a Kitchen Parade fan on Facebook!


Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 3 cups
  • Water to cover
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 1 pound carrots, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom (see TIPS)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • A sprinkle of ‘finishing salt’ such as Maldon or fleur de sel

In a large pot, start the water to bring to a boil (see TIPS), add the salt. Add the vegetables as they’re prepped, cover and bring to a boil. When the water boils, reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer and let gently cook until the carrots and sweet potatoes are cooked through and quite soft.

Drain and return the vegetables to the hot pot. (If the vegetables are soggy, turn the heat on for a minute or two to cook off some of the liquid.) Mash with a hand-held potato masher or a meat fork – you want the mixture to be mostly mashed but still hold visible bits of both carrot and sweet potato. Stir in the butter and cardamom. Taste, then add additional cardamom if needed, then salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with finishing salt. Serve and savor!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE (How many calories in Rustic Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Carrots? How many Weight Watchers points in Rustic Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Carrots?) Per Half Cup, made with 1/2 tablespoons butter: 112/129 Calories; 2/4g Tot Fat; 1/2g Sat Fat; 5/10mg Cholesterol; 107/120mg Sodium; 22g Carb; 4g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 2g Protein; Weight Watchers 1.5/2 points

A Menu

Olivada on Crisp Toasts

Fast Roast Chicken
~ Rustic Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Carrots ~
(recipe above)
Roasted Pear Salad or
Salad Greens with Orange & Cumin Vinaigrette

Lemon Pudding Cake

More Unusual & Ethereal Vegetable Pairings

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Mashed Potatoes & Carrots Smashed Potatoes & Broccoli Colcannon
~ more vegetable recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade

~ more purées & mashes ~
from A Veggie Venture

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

© Copyright 2010 Kitchen Parade