Sunday, February 3, 2013

French Onion Soup "Topping" - Grain Free, Gluten Free

One of the best things about people coming over for dinner is it forces me to think differently about the food I am eating. 
I knew I was going to make French Onion Soup today, but I didn't know how I was going to do the topping. Without topping it's just not a French onion. It's an onion soup and for some reason, not as enjoyable. 
I have used ham, Oopsie Roll croutons, crackers, parsley, spinach, just cheese etc... Nothing seems to be as good as bread. I know that I could just settle on using a gluten free bread but I try to stay as strict as possible and do not indulge in bread or grains. 
I hardly EVER use or ingest rice flour in any shape or form unless I cannot substitute otherwise. So I have these fantastic Lentil crackers (which are the only crackers I eat) that I get from the Health store (they only have 4 ingredients in them!!!). You can find these in the Links on the right at the stores I shop at.  
However, they are just not the same with soup as a grain cracker. They don't really absorb (until after a long while) and they are very thin. Also, using a cracker in French onion soup, tastes exactly like having a cracker on top of Onion soup.
Some things just need to stay the same. French onion soup is delicious with a crisp toasted piece of ham. But it's still not the same. 
So I took today as a motivation to figure out a way to make these taste like the traditional but still healthy and acceptable to a guest not expecting anything different.
I made these up while the soup was simmering (for an hour) so it was really not labor intensive. I also decided not to use a food processor for these, as a rustic smash with my rolling pin or a rough chop was a great texture. 
I used cheese in the topping and didn't add anymore cheese at all to the soup. It was plenty cheese enough. I actually found out that I used way less cheese this way then when I would pile it on top of the bowl. It used to be an easy way to use a brick of cheese for dinner, this time it was under control. 
I broiled them in my toaster oven right before serving (cold out of the fridge). It was crusty, golden and crispy on the edges. Moist and doughy and soft in the middle but still stayed to the top of the bowl. It was perfect. It felt like that bready stuff I have been missing. PLUS, I got to add an extra vegetable :)
  You can substitute any Dairy free cheese that melts in this recipe. I used a (naturally) lactose free Parmesan Cheese.

French Onion Soup Topping - Grain free, gluten free  3-4 large Servings

In a small Zip lock bag:
 1/2 C Lentil Crackers (or any grain free)

Crush the crackers in a closed Zip lock bag using a rolling pin or a knife or your hands.
* I would not recommend using those pale thin white round rice crackers. I have not tried these and I do not have an idea on the texture or taste that you would end up with. My multi seed cracker recipe would work well for this.

In a small glass bowl:
1/4 C melted organic butter

2 T chopped fresh parsley
3 T Powdered Parmesan cheese* (Substitute Almond Flour)
1/3 C Grated Mozzarella, Parmesan, Cheddar, Dairy Free Cheese, etc.
2 T organic egg whites (or one egg white)
1/8 t black pepper
The crushed cracker crumbs

Mix all the ingredients together with the melted butter until it becomes wet and sticks together. On a Parchment lined baking sheet, divide the mix together into 3-4 mounds. Press down with a spatula to about 1/4 inch in height and for them into a uniform circle. 
Place under an oven broiler for 2-3 minutes or just until cheese and butter have melted.
Remove from the oven and put them on the counter at room temperature until they cool enough to be held. Refrigerate until use. 

When ready to serve place the topping onto a bowl full of soup and reheat under the broiler until brown, crisp and melted in the center. Once chilled they should be a firm round savory cookie. I eye balled my bowls ahead of time and aimed for my "cookies" to be the same size as the bowl so not to overhang too much during cooking.
You could also make one large square on the sheet pan and then once cooled simply dice into croutons and place on the bowl. Either way, they will be just as delicious as bread, without the bread!!!

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