Here is the story of my first foray into the world of cooking the French way. Where better to begin than with French Onion soup. Not, as I first thought, made with French Onions, whatever they may be, but with ordinary onions cooked in a specific way. A friend of mine made some French Onion soup a few months ago and reported that although it was labour intensive, the taste was well worth the effort.
Here is the recipe (serves 6-8):
½ oz butter
2 tbsp olive oil
4 large onions, thinly sliced
2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp plain flour
4 fl oz dry white wine (we used dry vermouth instead)
3 1/3 pints stock
2 tbsp brandy (optional)
6-8 thick slices French bread, toasted
1 garlic clove
12oz Gruyère or Emmenthal cheese, grated
- Heat the butter and oil in a large heavy pan. Add onions and cook for 10-12 minutes. Add the garlic, sugar and thyme and cook for 30-35 minutes until the onions are well browned, stirring frequently.
- Sprinkle over the flour and blend well. Sir in white wine and stock and bring to the boil. Skim off any foam which rises. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Stir in the brandy, if using.
- Preheat the grill. Rub each slice of toasted French bread with the garlic clove. Fill soup bowls about three-quarters full with the onion soup. Float a piece of toast in each bowl, top with grated cheese and grill about 6 inches from the heat for 3-4 minutes until the cheese begins to melt and bubble.
- Eh voilà!
Even considering the extended periods of cooking / simmering required, this soup was simplicity itself to make, tasted delicious and was very filling. From what I’ve read so far this is how the French approach cooking; simple, fresh ingredients with the emphasis very firmly on taste, everyone having an opinion on how something should be prepared and served. I’m looking forward to eating it in France later this year. I was very pleased with what I made, but I wonder how different from the indigenous variety it will turn out to be.
This recipe was taken from French Food and Cooking by Carole Clements and Elizabeth Wolf Cohen.