Like so many new experiences I had upon entering the business world, I discovered I liked French Onion Soup.
My first sampling came in a cup at the original Interurban Restaurant in Norman, just a short walk down Main Street from the office where I worked. I didn’t know then that the building that housed the restaurant was, in a previous life, an old inter-city trolley station for a commuter rail that ferried people from Norman to Oklahoma City before it closed in the early forties. It was part of the same trolley system that also ran through the heart of Mesta Park, just a little west from where I now live.
Though I didn’t know it then, Mesta Park was known as the Comeback Neighborhood when I first tasted that soup. But there were so many things I didn’t know then. I didn’t know whether I liked tax work. I didn’t know that I would dream of numbers when I fell asleep at night. And I didn’t know I was pregnant with my first child the day I reported to work at that small accounting firm that took a chance on hiring me.
It took two pregnancy tests to confirm my pregnancy. And it took a few weeks to gain the courage to break the news to the managing partner. Fearing the worst, I thought Mr. Stephenson might fire me on the spot, untried and unproved as I was. Pregnancy in those days, when women were first breaking into the ranks of professional firms, was widely viewed – what in my Arthur Andersen days came to be known as a “CLM” – as a “career limiting move.” So when my boss merely chuckled, assuring me that “it” happened in the best of families,” I never forgot it or him. To this day, I still keep up with Mr. Stephenson. He even helped my son Bryan land his first job at another local accounting firm three years ago.
Omer still has a small accounting practice in Norman though the Interurban location I frequented is now closed. Many other Interurban locations have sprung up and, while the soup is no longer served, other menu items I liked are still there, like their famous Okie Pig Sandwich and New York Cheesecake topped with berries. I haven’t been to the restaurant in years, but I know where there’s a downtown location, just a short walk from my Mesta Park home.
Meanwhile, here at home, the soup is always on the menu. It’s easy to make and a good way to use up the home-made beef broth I always have in my freezer. I’ve used this particular recipe for over twenty years and have found it to be good anytime of the year — just like it was at the Interurban all those years ago.
I don’t know why I don’t make this soup more often. But this I know: Next in importance to the three words, “I love you” — are the three words, “I don’t know.” I don’t know why it’s so hard to say “I don’t know.” I don’t say it nearly enough. Nor did I when I was parenting or when I was considered a “tax expert” all those years ago. And if I had to bet, I’d say the three words, “I love ___,” are said more often than the three words, “I don’t know.” But….
….I don’t know. Try the soup. I love it.
French Onion Soup
2 to 3 bowl size servings
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups thinly sliced onions
1 Tbsp butter
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp flour
4 cups beef broth, strained of fat (homemade preferred)
Salt & pepper to taste
Slices of french bread, 1 inch thick
Swiss Cheese slices
Melt olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add onions and salt — cook over low heat until onions have softened — about 20 minutes. Dot with butter and continue cooking until golden brown — another 20 minutes. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir until well blended. Remove from heat.
In a large sauce pan, bring broth to a boil. Stir in onions, cover and simmer for 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper (if using my recipe for a homemade broth, very little salt will need to be added)
In a 350 degree oven:
On a cookie sheet, add lightly buttered bread (both sides) and broil until golden and crisp. Watch closely as toast next to the element browns quickly. Top the toast with a slice of cheese and bake until cheese melts.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with a slice of cheese toast.