It’s cold outside. Sure, it’s going to get plenty colder but now is the time to snap into action. Before you go out and buy this years wool and mittens (Parker is getting hers this weekend) think about the things that are REALLY going to keep you warm… do you have a good roster of hearty soups and melty sandwiches to sustain you through the cold months ahead?

If you answer was anything short of a resounding, “Yes!,” then you need to click yourself over to ICE Rec Classes- Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and register to get into the kitchen with me at one of the nation’s top cooking schools. I’ll give you hands-on lessons on how to make the best grilled cheese sandwich in New York City as well as a variety of hearty, healthy soups that’ll keep your cheeks rosy on even the coldest days.

In this class you’ll learn how to make:

Creamy Tomato and Fennel Soup

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Fried Sage

French Onion Soup with Crisp Gruyere Cheese

Chicken and Rice Soup

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The Spaniard (Grilled Cheese with Manchego and Serrano Ham)

The Provencal (Grilled Cheese with roasted vegetables and goat cheese)

Here’s a soup recipe to get you started:

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Crisp

serves 4-6
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 lbs yellow onions, sliced (3 medium sized onions)
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 ounces brandy (or bourbon)
2 branches fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
40 ounces veal stock or broth
freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pot. When the butter is melted and the foam subsides, add the onions and stir frequently until the sizzling in the pot stops. Turn the heat to low and continue cooking the onions stirring occasionally until caramelized.

Properly caramelizing onions takes about 45 minutes and must be done over low heat. The onions should be added to a very hot pot, then the temperature reduced. The onions do not require constant attention, just to be stirred every 5 minutes or so. After 10 minutes, the should be well softened and beginning to color.

After 20-25 minutes of cooking the onions over a low flame, the onions should be tender and lightly brown.

Continue cooking the onions until the onions darken and a heavy fond (fond- tasty brown bits on the bottom of the pot) develops on the bottom of the pot.

Salt the onions generously (about 2 teaspoons) this will release the excess moisture from the onions and loosen the fond from the pot. As the onions pick up the fond, they will darken.

When the bottom of the pot is clean, turn the heat to high and wait for it to begin sizzling. Deglaze with the brandy and reduce until dry. Add the veal stock, bay leaf and thyme and bring the mixture to simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer 10-15 minutes more, allowing the flavors to develop.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme and divide between heated bowls. Serve with crusty bread and gruyere frico.

For perfect, cheesy croutons

 ½ cup grated gruyere cheese

 ¼ cup parmesan cheese

 1 baguette

Mix grated cheeses in  a small bowl. Cut baguette to ¼ to ½  inch thick slices. Pile the cheese on top of the bread slices and melt under a broiler.

To make the Gruyere Crisp

Heat a non-stick or cast iron skillet or medium heat. Add a pile of grated gruyere or parmesan cheese to the center of the pan.

Maintain a medium heat as the cheese melts.

When the cheese is melted, gently push the sides in toward the center to prevent the edges from browning too quickly.

When the cheese is completely brown (you will see that the majority of the fat has separated and looks like oil in the pan), carefully lift the cheese with a spatula and lay on paper towels to drain and cool. As it cool the cheese will crisp. It can be formed into different shapes when still warm.