When I was a kid, I would watch a cooking show called Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home which was hosted by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, two acclaimed French chefs. In each episode, they would both create their versions of the same recipe and the best part was to listen to them banter back and forth about the correct way to make the dish. I recently acquired a cookbook of theirs and found a recipe for French Onion Soup.
In contrast to my suspicions, it is not difficult to make soupe à l’oignon; it takes time and patience. I started by chopping three large onions. They then went into a saute pan with oil and butter to tenderize. Adding oil to the butter helps keep everything from burning. The onions cooked for almost an hour in total, first at a low heat and later at a higher heat. I added thyme as well as brown sugar as requested by Julia Child which gave the onions a nice color and added a sweetness that really complimented the onion.
While the onions cooked, I toasted some baguette slices in the oven until they just started to brown. These would become the croutons ceremoniously found in onion soup. When the onions had caramelized and gone from filling the pan to just coating the bottom, I added liquids. Jacques’ recipe called for chicken stock which was new for me; in the past I have only used beef stock. What I found out was that the chicken stock adds a nice, light flavor unlike the overpowering beef broth.
I allowed the onions and stock to simmer whilst I prepared the ramekins for baking. I placed baguette slices in the bottom of each bowl and grated Gruyére cheese over the top. I thought it was interesting to put the croutons in before the onion soup but as it turns out, they float to the top during baking and they don’t burn because they are soaked in soup. I ladled soup into each ramekin and grated more cheese over the top. This layer browned in the oven and left a cheesy crust that looked and tasted delicious.
Once they had finished cooking and had time to cool, it was time to dig in. Everyone who tried this recipe of onion soup loved it. The brown sugar paired with the onions and chicken stock had a sweet flavor that accentuated the tones from the cheese. The croutons were soaked through with soup and tasted delicious. I think if I made this recipe again I would saute the onions for a tad longer to get a little darker color but otherwise, this was a success. Give it a try, if you have any comments on the recipe, leave them below. Bon Appetit!
Onion Soup Gratinée
Adapted from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home
Makes 6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 large onions, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups chicken stock, heated
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup wine (optional)
1 baguette, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
6 ounces Gruyére cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium-low heat.
Then add onions, sugar, thyme, and salt.
Cover and cook until onions are tender, about 10 minutes.
Stirring frequently, continue to cook for 30 minutes more until caramelization occurs.
While the onions are cooking, place the baguette slices on a baking dish and bake until they just start to brown for about 5 minutes.
Stir in wine and stock to onions and bring to a boil.
Add salt and pepper as needed and simmer for 10 minutes.
Arrange soup crocks on a baking sheet and put the croutons and cheese into the bottom of each one.
Ladle onion soup into each crock leaving about 1/4-inch from the top.
Place any remaining cheese on top of each crock.
Bake for 30 minutes, until cheese is golden and has formed a crust on top.
Cool a few minutes and serve.