By Sara Dahmen
Winter is here, and it’s taking no punches! Single digits, brutal winds, and a heavy dose of all the illnesses that come with winter weather (the pandemic notwithstanding). There are many herbs available to fight a fever and kill a cold, but some remedies aren’t safe for young children, even though they’re natural. Garlic, for instance, is an essential ingredient to an amazing influenza busting concoction (more on that soon!) but it’s not safe to give children 12 and under. And we all can do with a cup of hot soup when we’re feeling a little down. This French Onion Soup is a twist on the classic, and I’ll even list out how to make it Vegan-Style! Meanwhile, take heart, dear hearts. The days are already getting longer and the sun is slowly waking up again!
FRENCH ONION SOUP
This is a classic, but I like to add a little bit of excitement by using multiple kinds of onions. This simple recipe can easily be transformed to a vegan one by exchanging out the beef stock for vegetable stock (the hearty kind is best!) and using plant-based butter for caramelizing the onions and garlic. Chao or other plant-based brand “cheese” melts easily under the broiler, which won’t be quite as stinky as the classic gruyere, but it’s better than no cheese at all!
**This recipe is for 6 people
2 red onions, cut in half and sliced thin
2 yellow onions, cut in half and sliced thin
2 white onions, cut in half and sliced thin
1 shallot, sliced
3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
8 cups beef stock
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 bundle of dried or fresh thyme
French baguette, sliced thickly
Place all onions/shallots in a large pot and add butter. Cook at medium heat, stirring almost constantly, until the onions start to caramelize. Add in the garlic and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes. Add the beef stock, salt, pepper, and thyme and bring to a simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Heat the broiler to 400F.
Slice the gruyere enough for each bowl of soup you plan to serve. Place bowls on a baking sheet and ladle in the hot soup. Top each bowl with a slice of baguette topped by a slice of gruyere, and carefully put the entire baking sheet of bowls in the oven and broil for 4 minutes.
Serve quite warm!
KID’S FEVER-KILLER TEA
It’s still cold and flu season around here! This tea is safe for kids of all ages, especially those who are under the age of twelve and cannot have as many over-the-counter medications and fever reducers. It’s also super soothing on the stomach! Make a cup of this loose leaf mixture 1-2x a day while fever persists, and hopefully your young’uns will drink it right up and get well fast!
1 tsp dried feverfew (do not use while pregnant)
1 tsp dried or fresh catnip
1 tsp dried tulsi (holy basil) (avoid if attempting to get pregnant or are pregnant)
Mix these ingredients together and place it in a tea sieve. Boil a cup of water and pour the boiling water over the sieve and leave to steep for up to 10 minutes. Remove the herbs, cool to your preference, and drink.
Bonus! You can add 5 – 10 drops Willow Bark decoction to the tea before serving. Willow bark is wonderful as it truly is Nature’s aspirin, but should be used in relative moderation, especially for children.
To make the decoction, add 1 part Willow Bark to 3 parts water. Boil, then simmer until the water is reduced by 1/3. Strain and store for up to 48 hours at room temperature or in the fridge.
Why these herbs?
Feverfew is anti-inflammatory and another fever reducer (hence its name). Catnip settles the stomach and is known especially for being a gentle, somewhat tasty herb good for helping colds, flu and fever in children. Tulsi can be decocted alone to reduce a fever or taken daily as tea or decoction for general overall health. Willow Bark is anti-inflammatory and usually is used to reduce arthritis issues, but is also a great fever reducer.
About the Author
Sara Dahmen is a coppersmith, award-winning author and novelist, and entrepreneur. Her expertise is of vintage and modern cookware; she manufactures pure metal kitchenware in her Port Washington, Wisconsin garage for her company, House Copper & Cookware. All of her current designs are based on American traditions and wares and are sourced in the USA. When unable to recreate traditional elements, she uses only small family owned and operated makers or Armed Forces veterans to help with the production of her cookware pieces. Her work also includes refurbishing and restoring old and damaged copper using vintage tools. Learn more about Sara at: https://www.saradahmen.com/ Order Sara's book! Full color, hard-cover COPPER IRON AND CLAY (Morrow/HarperCollins)