I try to keep it cheap by souping us half to death in the winters.
Expect more soup recipes.
How to make it extra thrifty style? When you get a chance to pick up broth on B1G1, do it. Stock the cupboard. I didn't say boullion. I said broth. I haven't seen boullion on B1G1 and it's just plain different than canned broth. Onions on crazy sale or B1G1? It's time for this soup!
My french onion soup takes 3 days. Don't freak out. I cook a sirloin tip and feed us the meat for two days, reserving the juice and using that in the soup on the third day. It's cheaper if you serve as meat-soup-meat, if you tend to have leftover onion in the soup pot after you're done. We feed 4 people, but when I make soup we all get greedy and I usually have an extra set or two of feets under the table, so the soup honestly serves about 10 moderate eaters. For us, it's 5 people with lots of "taste testing". If you find yourself in a hole, too many folks not enough soup - add 2 small cans of boullion and 2 medium onions.
First step - cook the tip.
3lbs Sirloin tip roast
2Tbs Worchestershire sauce
2Tbs Minced Garlic
2 cans Beef broth (plus one can of water)
3 beef boullion cubes
1 tsp Onion Powder
Optional: 2 cups red wine.
Toss roast in crock pot, add everything, put a lid on it and cook until the meat is fork tender. My big patience problem is waiting until the meat releases. You gotta wait until you're almost afraid that you can't get the meat out because it's falling apart. Pull the meat from the new broth and serve it however. You can bake some fresh veggies in a can or two of broth +1 beef boullion cube, turning that juice into gravy and make it a roast dinner or just make open faced sandwiches. (Our favorite!)
On Soup Day:
Think of how many people you're serving. My standard formula is: 10oz beef liquid + 1 medium onion per person. A large onion is about 1.5 people.
When you get the broth from the fridge, it should have yellow/white hard fat chunks floating on the top. That's ok, we keep it in the soup, it melts clear. If your broth is too chunky with little bits of stuff on the bottom, heat the broth and strain it before use.
Homemade broth from the tip
5 Medium Onions
Butter or Margarine
2 cans beef broth (do not stretch soup with water. Done it, killed the soup)
Red wine, or liquor - rum, whiskey, bourbon, whatever's in the cabinet.
Salt & pepper to taste
French bread (any bread, depending on what you have)
Butter spray grease
Adobo criollo (Spanish seasoned garlic salt)
Italian seasoning herb mix
Sliced cheese or shredded cheese - Not american cheese, but you can use just about anything else: cheddar, provologne, jack...use what you like or what you have.
Heat homemade broth, add broth and maybe a boullion cube. Get it to a slow boil.
Slice onions thinly. Pan fry onions with 2 tsp butter in the pan on medium heat stirring occasionally until they are clear, kind of carmelizing them, but making sure they're very tender. Do smaller batches rather than one giant batch, you get more control over the onions. When your onions are cooked, toss them into the broth and deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup of alcohol (the wine or liquor). Pour your giggle juice into the hot pan and scrape out the sicky burnt onion goodness on the bottom of the pan. Don't let the liquid totally evaporate. Pour liquid into soup. Melt more butter in the pan and cook some more onions, repeating the whole drill until you're done with your onions.
Stir the soup and let simmer covered for about an hour. Just walk away and do something else. That's generally when I make the croutons. Taste the soup in 30 minutes and see if it needs anything. If it has a bitter tinge to it, add 1 tbsp of sugar or brown sugar. If it's not rich enough, take the lid off while it simmers - but watch the pot a little more closely.
Cut french bread into 1/2inch or 3/4 inch rounds. Lightly coat with spray grease (or olive oil) on both sides, sprinkle gently on both sides with Adobo and Italian Seasonings. Broil croutons on the rack on low, turning frequently until bread is dry and super crunchy, not burnt.
To serve - put bread in the bottom of the bowl, add soup, sprinkle with cheese. It's a pretty soup if you have soup crocks - put them into the oven and broil to brown the cheese. Around here, everyone has been smelling this stuff for the last 2 hours and will not wait for something like "pretty".