French onion soup (a.k.a. the $40 bowl of soup)

After several years of wading through recipes and getting to know my way around the kitchen, I decided that I needed to try out a Julia Child recipe. Or rather, I decided that I really wanted to make French onion soup, and I turned to a recipe of hers that was on Smitten Kitchen.

I try to avoid buying one-time-use ingredients because I already have a kitchen full of seldom-used items. Herbs of Provence, anyone? Spices and liquor are the worst, too, because they’re so expensive. They heap guilt upon me every time I open the cupboard, taunting me with their broken seals. “We’re going stale!” they cry. “Haven’t you some use for us?”

This soup had such a simple list of ingredients. Onions. Butter. Flour. But then lurking at the end was the spoiler: cognac. I knew that with such a simple recipe, the cognac would be vital.

I asked Greg to pick up some on his way home from work. The soup also requires half a cup of white wine, but to keep the cost in check, I used some from a bottle we already had open. When Greg walked in the door, he said, “This is going to be the most expensive soup we’ve ever eaten.”

I figured the bottle would be $15 or $20; I had told Greg to get the cheapest stuff they had. If I had seen a price over $20, I would have skipped the cognac, but not Greg. He wouldn’t let $37 stand between us and that soup. $37? Is this what cognac costs? We needed three tablespoons of it.

The soup turned out well, though Greg thought it was too sweet. That would be the sweet white wine I used. To save money. It does have a wonderful depth of flavor, and as with all simple meals, you will taste the difference it you use better-quality ingredients.

If anyone has other good recipes that call for cognac, please help relieve me of my guilt.