July 21, 2010 in Uncategorized
When Max asked me what was for dinner and I responded brown onion soup – my menu was met with complete and utter silence. I could see his meningis working like an abacus and he was choosing his words very carefully. “Brown ONION soup???” he said with the diction of Richard Burton. Hubby’s response was not much different but did include some interesting facial distortions. I had never made this soup before – but after Trish Deseine lovingly assembled the dish on her TV show – I was smitten. Who can resist the aroma of onions browning on the stove? To me, onions are not just onions – they are one third of the kitchen holy trinity – our lives would dull and shallow without them. That sweet smell proffering the promise of taste bud perfection has often driven me to gluttony. Perhaps – I shall write an Ode to an Onion.
The Italian history books claim that Catherine of Medici – took the ancient Tuscan recipe for Zuppa di Cipolle to France in the year 1533 when she went to France to marry Enrico II d’Orleans!! I wonder what the French would say to that claim. Indeed what is certain is that this is a Renaissance recipe. My research reveals that French legend would have it that Louis xv – late one night, found himself at his hunting lodge with only onions, butter and champagne. Et Voila – the first French rendition of this dish. Both the French and the Italians do seem to agree though –that this dish was more likely born out of poverty – a few onions, some bread and cheese – being the staple foods of the lower classes oft poverty stricken. No matter the origins of this humble soup, it’s a gastronomic giant in my book.
This soup “looked” great on the television – but when I made it – oh WOW!!! It’s not often that a recipe delivers such a punchy reward. I have altered her recipe just a wee bit – to suit my fancy and to yield more than two portions of soup. This recipe is impossibly great – and as Trish says – the French reach for their onion bags when suffering from a hang-over. I haven’t put this theory to the test – but I will. The Italian recipes that I researched are from the Renaissance – how fitting – when one’s head is bouncing around like the tennis ball at the end of a 70’s swing ball , the morning after the night before – a bowl of Onion soup is just the trigger for re-birth!!!
8 – 10 nice big onions finely sliced
2 cloves of crushed garlic
200ml red wine – i used a 2007 Landskroon Cabernet Sauvignon
400ml beef stock
6 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 baguette or french loaf
150g grated gruyere cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a nice heavy bottomed pot melt your butter
Add the finely sliced onions and crushed garlic and fry them slowly on a moderate heat in the butter until they
Are nice and soft – whatever you do DON’T let them crisp – you are looking for
soft onions – this will take at least 15 minutes
so pour yourself a nice glass of red wine and put on your ‘fave’ music and gently stir away while you enjoy
Add the wine – the beef stock – the thyme and bay leaves and bring to the boil.
As soon as it starts to boil reduce your heat – pour another glass of wine and relax for
About 40 minutes giving it a stir every now and then.
Taste for seasoning – i like to add freshly ground black pepper.
Cut some nice rustic chunky slices of bread and toast them on both sides – if you really like
Your garlic – as we do – rub a clove of garlic over one side of the toasted bread.
Top each slice of bread and grill until the cheese starts to bubble and brown slightly.
Serve your soup with a slice of cheesy bread.
Traditionally – you should put your soup into oven-proof bowls and top with the toasted bread – and grated
Gruyere cheese – and then place it under the grill. My soup plates are not oven proof so I had to
serve as stated above.
Monique – could not believe that this soup didn’t have meat in it!!
It’s meaty and sweet and oniony with a hint of sweetness you get from
It’s halo of bubbling gruyere cheese.
I would say that it would be well worth getting completely sozzled to put this recipe to the test!!!
Let me know if you do ……….. But – don’t drink and drive!!!!
© Janice Tripepi 2009 – 2010