French onion soup has been one of my husband’s favorite dishes ever since we had it for the first time in Washington, D.C. A fun little French restaurant with a name like La Nicoise served it to us. We’ll never forget that restaurant because we were just at the “falling in love” part of our relationship. Besides, all the waiters wore roller skates. Just imagine a French restaurant and a black garment-clad garcon delivering steaming bowls of French onion soup au gratin to crowded little tables – while balancing on wheels.
Frontier Soups – Available at Specialty Grocers Such as Whole Foods and the Fresh Market
When we visit Whole Foods or specialty grocers like the Fresh Market in Raleigh, we always try something new, hoping to discover a healthy treat. On this visit, Frontier Soups’ Bistro Garden French Onion Soup caught our eye. Of course, most of its appeal lay in our romanticized history of similar products, but we were going to capture a little more of much beloved nostalgic moments.
Frontier Soups come in cellophane packages attached to an approximately 5″ x 7″ back card with a folded flap at the top. The back card lists a number of other flavors of its trademarked Homemade in Minutes soups:
1. Carolina Springtime Asparagus Almond
2. Florida Sunshine Red Pepper Corn Chowder
3. Mississippi Delta Tomato Basil
4. One World Alphabet
5. San Francisco Thai Golden Peanut
6. Virginia Blue Ridge Broccoli Cheddar
7. Chicago Bistro French Onion
8. Connecticut Cottage Chicken Noodle
9. Idaho Outpost Potato Leek
10. Midwest Weekend Cincinnati Chili
11. Missouri Homestead Garden Gazpacho
12. Oregon Lakes Wild Rice and Mushroom
13. Pennsylvania Woodlands Mushroom Barley
14. South of the Border Tortilla
15. Idaho Outpost Potato Leek
In addition, the Frontier Soups offers what they tout as a variety of “hearty original, whole grains” and its new International Collection Soups.
Frontier Soups – Chicago Bistro French Onion Soup Nutritional Information
The package we purchased in 2010 sold for $5.59 and promised to be a meal for four or five people. Serving size was 1/4 cup (29g) of dry mix and one cup prepared with about five servings per package.
Calories per serving: 90 in mix; 220 prepared according to their directions
Total fat in mix: 5; 80 in prepared
Total carb; 11 g/6%/9%
Dietary fiber: 1g/24%/29%
Vitamin A: 6%/10%
Vitamin C: 8% 15%
Calcium: 6% 10%
Iron: 10% 35%
Frontier Soups – Recipe for Chicago Bistro French Onion Soup
The packaging backcard provided easy-to-follow directions. Ingredients included 3 Tablespoons of butter, 1 large sweet onion, 6 cups canned beef broth, 1/2 cup apple cider or juice, 8 oz. shredded Gruyere cheese and 4-6 thick slices of toasted French bread or 2 cups croutons.
I used a Vidalio onion, apple juice, French bread and partial New York extra sharp cheddar cheese to satisfy the male in my household. He doesn’t do Gruyere.
Peeling the onion and cutting it into quarters, then half-moon shapes was simple. So was carmelizing the onions, adding the mix and simmering for 25 minutes.
We have French onion soup regularly, so it was routine to ladle soup, add croutons, top with cheese and slide the cookie sheet and bowls beneath the broiler to melt and brown.
Frontier Soups — The Final Taste Test
Our final question ended up being whether the extra taste and nutritional contents were enough to warrant the extra six bucks we spent on the dried mix.
The soup had an interesting taste. It was delicious, but no more so than what I usually make. Progresso’s French onion soup, too, when doctored up a bit, has as much taste, but not as much texture. Frontier Soups freeze dries black Beluga lentils, onions, scallions, carrots and adds a variety of spices and herbs I don’t generally have on hand.
My regular homemade variety is probably just as nutritious as Frontier Soup. Fresh ingredients most likely outweigh dried, but I was able to use no added salt in the mix. We most likely came out even nutritionwise.
We had enough for at least six people and ate four meals off the one Frontier Soup recipe. We had enough left over to add to a crock pot stew or soup later on.
So the question remains, does Frontier Soups French Onion soup take just 45 minutes to prepare? Is the just under $1.00 extra per bowl for 7 to 8 bowls of soup too high a price for a change of pace in day-to-day eating? While total preparation time took me just over an hour, the answer is easy: I will buy Frontier Soup’s Chicago Bistro French Onion Soup mix once I visit The Fresh Market in Raleigh again, along with their Carolina Springtime Asparagus Almond soup mix and perhaps their Virginia Blue Ridge Broccoli Cheddar soup mix.
The Fresh Market