finales and french onion soup

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: we hate goodbyes.

We have had to endure a few too many in the past decade and swear they never get easier. Living in D.C. — one of the most transient cities in the country — it seemed as though a month couldn’t go by without someone departing for the next phase of his or her life.

It’s a big reason why we fell in love with Denver. No one wanted to leave, so we never had to say goodbye.

Though we feel that is changing a bit this year. We had to say farewell to our priest and dear friend, Fr. Luke, this summer. And now, we have to do it again with some of our closest friends in the world: Kate and Tyler.

Kate and Tyler were admittedly the only people we knew in Denver prior to our arrival. Many more eventually came out of the woodwork, but these two were the ones who messaged us months in advance asking for updates and conveying their excitement about our relocation.

I won’t go into the details as to why, but I was actually incredibly afraid of Kate before moving here. We may have been sorority sisters in college, but that didn’t mean I knew her any better. I even vividly remember admitting this fact to Jason after he had stayed with Kate and Tyler during a Denver scouting trip. His response will always stay with me:

“Yeah, you’re going to need to get over that real quick.”

And get over it I did.

I can’t tell you how many random dancing parties and game nights and bowling excursions and camping trips and mountain hikes and bike rides and backyard barbecues and home brewing sessions and wild weddings [near and far] and holiday parties [read: every single major holiday of 2015] we have since celebrated together in our four-plus years of living in the same city.

These two have undoubtedly been an integral and unwavering part of our Denver family and helped establish all of our favorite things about life here, from ice fishing trips to book clubs to ski weekends to monthly happy hours.

wilsons4Pre-wedding hike, Fall 2013

wilsons2Ringing in 2015

ice fishingInaugural ice fishing trip, 2015

wilsons5 Bowling Night Out, Summer 2015

wilsons1Wedding shenanigans, Spring 2016

2016-10-28_20-44-33_639Denver Family, Fall 2016

Of all of these pictures, however, there is one in particular that will always remain etched in my memory. It’s a photo of Kate hugging me on our wedding day. And while it may not seem any different than most of the other photos taken that day [I hugged A LOT of people on our wedding day, okay?], it’s the only one that made me pause. That’s because I can honestly say that a year prior to this photo being taken, I never would have imagined I would be hugging Kate. I never imagined I would be able to call her one of my nearest and dearest sisters in the world.

And boy am I glad that life can give more than you ever imagined. Because it gave me Kate.

wilsons3

So it is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to this dynamic duo and these friends who have given us so much more than we could ever return. Our hearts are absolutely broken by the Wilson-sized hole that will forever remain in Denver, but we can’t help but be excited for all of the opportunities both professionally and personally that await them in North Carolina.

We didn’t have a lot of time to process their news, but we made damn sure we got in one final meal together before they left. When asked if they would prefer a home-cooked meal or to meet us at their favorite restaurant, like any wise friend, they chose not to pass up anything cooked by Jason. Their only requests? Soup and Jason’s bread.

And what better soup to pair with bread than French Onion Soup?

We instantly knew this would be the perfect pull-out-all-the-stops dinner for our final meal with them. Super indulgent and a classic favorite, French Onion Soup highlights the best of Jason’s abilities [read: patience]. Jason started prepping several days in advance, simmering his homemade stocks until they were just right, picking out the perfect cheese to complement the dish, and even making the soup a day in advance to optimize our quality time with the guests of honor [and, of course, to let the flavors meld]. And all of it payed off.

We broke bread. We reminisced. We exchanged gifts. And we experienced one of the finest flavor combinations Jason has ever achieved in the kitchen [no joke]. We honestly could not have asked for a better or more bittersweet finale together as friends.

So this recipe is for them. Kate and Tyler, may this be a small reminder of all of the joy, laughter, and memories we have shared together over the years. Happy trails, and we love you!

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French Onion Soup
For this soup, patience is your best friend. Fortunately, it is best made a day or two in advance for the best flavor. We also recommend making your own stock if you are able, but store bought will do just fine.

Ingredients

  • 5 c. chicken stock
  • 3 c. beef stock
  • 2 c. water
  • 9 yellow onions, sliced pole to pole [note: do NOT use sweet onions!]
  • 3 T. white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 c. dry red wine
  • 12-14 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 oz. Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
  • 6 oz. Comte cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 loaf of crusty bread, sliced [such as baguette or country loaf]
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees.
2. Slice onions pole to pole and place them in heavy, oven safe stock pot [such as a Le Creuset Dutch Oven]. Sprinkle salt on the onions and bake covered for an hour. Stir after an hour, crack the lid slightly, and continue to cook for an hour and a half.
3. Afterwards, place the pot on the stove and cook over medium/medium high heat for 15 to 20 minutes until the onions are reduced and the water from the onions is gone. There should be a nice crusty brown later on the bottom of the pan.
4. Pour in 1/2 cup of water and stir the crust from the bottom and sides of pan into the liquid. Cook until liquid evaporates and there’s a new crusty golden brown layer. Repeat the 1/2 cup water additions and cooking/scraping until the onions are a nice, dark golden brown color and all 2 cups of water have been utilized [4 times total]. The whole process will take about an hour.
5. Pour in white wine vinegar and red wine, deglazing onions one last time.
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6. When the wine and vinegar have evaporated, add beef and chick stocks to the pot. Add thyme and bay leaves to the soup, tied together with twine or secured in a cheesecloth for easy removal, and cook at a high simmer until liquid has reduced by one-third, about one to two hours. Season with salt to taste. Store for a day or two or until ready to serve.
8. To prep “croutons”, turn on the broiler and arrange bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast the bread under the broiler for about 5 minutes until nice and golden.
9. To serve, distribute soup into four oven safe bowls, place croutons on top of the soup bowls, and cover with cheese slices. Broil until cheese is adequately melted, golden, and bubbly — no more than 5 minutes. Carefully remove bowls from broiler with oven mitts and let cool a few minutes before serving. [Alternatively, if you do not have oven safe bowls, sprinkle the croutons with cheese on a baking sheet and broil until cheese is appropriately melted. Then float the cheesy croutons on top of the soup in their individual bowls.]
french-onion-soup-1
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2 thoughts on “finales and french onion soup

  1. This legitimately made me cry. My heart is so heavy with the thought of the Wilsons leaving. What a beautiful tribute you wrote to them. ❤

    Like

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