I love soups, and onion soups are between my favorites. But between all the onion soups, probably the most famous is the french onion soup.
I had the chance to try it a couple of times in France, and now that I casually found in a local supermarket a Gruyere AOP and even the Comté AOP I finally decided to make it on my own too 🙂
Well, exactly there are two main versions of onion soup in France: the one in the manner of Paris and the one in the manner of Lyon.
And probably the original version is the one of Lyon, considering that the oldest written recipe of a similar soup is the one written by Alexander Dumas Père (yes, the author of The Count of Monte Christo and The Three Musketeers, he was also a famous gourmand) with the name “Soupe à l’Oignon à la Stanislas” (and it was made with water).
The main differences between the soups from Paris and the ones in Lyon are in the use of the broth and of the wine: in Paris they traditionally use the vegetable or meat broth, instead in Lyon traditionally they used just water (but nowadays few chefs don’t use the broth).
Then in Paris they traditionally use the white wine or the red wine (or Cognac), instead in Lyon it’s often used Madeira or Port wine.
As you know, I like to do the things as better as possible when I decide to do something, so I always use to look for the recipes and the advises of the masters, and with no doubt between the French chefs one of the biggest names (if not the biggest) is Paul Bocuse, the famous chef from Lyon, so what I’m going to show here is a recipe that (very modestly) takes the cue from some of his “soupe a l’oignon” recipes 🙂
It’s basically a simple dish, but it requires a lot of attention and quite a lot of time, but it’s really worth it! There are few other recipes that warm you so well in a cold day 🙂
That’s all we need 🙂 unfortunately I don’t have the traditional beautiful bowls with the two lions, but that’s the last of the problems 🙂
INGREDIENTS (4 people):
- 450 g of golden onions
- 70 g butter
- 30 g white flour
- 1,5 l of vegetable broth
- 300 g of Gruyère AOP: in this case I used the swiss rather than the french Gruyere, that’s what I found, but also Comté AOP (which I used another time and personally I prefer that), Cantal AOP and Emmental AOP are common choices, and I think that also other good mountain cheese could be good in this recipe, for example Fontina DOP, Asiago DOP, Montasio DOP or Bergkäse, so you could try also one of those if you can’t get the Gruyère.
- 1 french style baguette (so made with just flour-water-salt-yeast or sourdough)
- 10/15 cl of Port wine (or Madeira, but that’s not easy to find here so I used Port wine, and it was good)
- 1-2 yolks
- salt and black pepper
- First of all you have to take a pot and prepare the vegetable broth if you don’t have it already (the usual made with carrot-celery-bay leaves-parsley-garlic is ok), if you have it then heat it up. Then we have to clean the onions and cut them into thin slices. A mandoline can help you.
- Then take a cocotte/casserole and melt the butter. Once the butter is hot enough add the onions, cover the cocotte and let them simmer at low heat until they will get a nice color. During this time mix the onions frequently, so none will risk to burn on the bottom. To me this step it took about 50 minutes at low heat (and if you are doing the soup for 8/10 people expect to take care of the onions also for over one hour).
- Then sift the flour and add it to the onion, mixing: you have to do this operation fast and well, otherwise the flour will create some unwanted clumps, and we don’t want clumps 🙂
- Let the onions and flour cook for 1 minute more and then it’s time to add the hot vegetable broth to the onions. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and let the soup simmer for another 30 minutes about (someone at this point, before than the stock, add also a glass of white wine and simmer it until reduced, Bocuse doesn’t use it and I also didn’t use it, and the final soup was really tasty enough. But you can try if you want. And I think that also a couple of bay leaves could fit well (but I previously used them in the broth, so I didn’t add in this step).
- While the onion soup is simmering, cut the baguette in slices and make croutons with it: bake the slices in the oven (pre-heated at 200 °C), until crunchy. Grate also all the cheese.
- After the soup has simmered for the last 30 minutes, take your ceramic bowls and prepare the final dish: put a very little knob of butter on the bottom and some of the grated cheese, then the bread and again some grated cheese and then a ladle of soup, and so on repeating. In my opinion 2 or 3 layers are enough, and top the dish with a generous amount of grated cheese, and filling with some more soup if needed.
- Put in the oven to cook “au gratin”, at 190-200 °C in grill mode. If the bread absorbs too much soup, then open the oven and add more soup (Bocuse suggests to add also half glass of Cognac at this point, mixed with the stock, but I didn’t use it), and let it bake for 10 minutes about, until the cheese on the top has melted and made a crust.
- When it’s time to serve the soup, add the Port wine whisked with the yolk on the top of each bowl (but if you don’t want to use it raw, you can add it right before baking).
- Enjoy! 🙂
PS: the final taste was really amazing! 😛
Baguette: from “A Table”, in Budapest
Cheese: Gruyère AOP and Comté AOP bought in Tesco
Butter: artisanal mountain butter bought in Italy
Port Wine: Graham’s Fine Ruby, bought at “Bòrtàrsasàg” in Budapest
This is the one made in another day with Comté AOP: