I could ‘virtually’ smell this delightful soup whilst still in the research stages, that is how powerful the flavour of a really good french onion soup is. And it seems there are as many variations on a theme for this soup as there are departments in France. However I believe the true French Onion soup has Lyonnais origins, as in France it is normally known as soupe à l’oignon à la lyonnaise and the main ingredient of the lyonnaise sauce is onions! This for me makes sense as Lyon is considered the gastronomic capital of France and with good reason; boasting some 3500 restaurants, and the fabulous Halles de Lyon recently renamed the Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse. Lyon is the birthplace of Paul Bocuse and where he has several outstanding restaurants and in nearby Collonges-au-Mont-D’or – the actual village in which he was born he has the world famous 3 michelin starred Auberge du Pont de Collonges.
So soupe à l’oignon à la lyonnaise, apart from it’s french origins being in Lyon, this is a hearty, filling peasants soup, made with cheap and easily available ingredients. The secret in creating a really good soup is in the cooking of the onions. One can’t hurry the caramelisation process!
I created this recipe by mixing a few recipes, including Delia Smith, Cooksister and the one from Michel Roux Jr’s latest cookbook The French Kitchen. I also loved Felicity Cloake’s article from
The Guardian – How to cook the perfect French Onion Soup but to add the Savoyard twist I used Chignon wine from the Savoie and our very famous Haute Savoie Reblochon cheese
RECIPE – French Onion Soup
- 60g butter (unsalted)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 large onions, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- a large pinch of nutmeg
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 275 ml dry white wine – I used a Chignon from Savoie
- 1 Tbsp white wine or sherry vinegar
- 1 1/4 litres good quality beef stock (I used Knorr rich beef pots)
- 2 tablespoons cognac
- *Slices of Reblochon Estonian Kringle
- slices of Reblochon cheese – I sprinkled some thyme over the cheese slices
- Melt the oil and butter together in a large, heavy pan over a medium/high heat, then add the sugar, followed by the onions and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg sauté, keep turning them from time to time until the edges of the onions have turned dark, this will take about 6 minutes. Then reduce the heat to a low setting and leave the onions to carry on cooking very slowly stirring occasionally for about 30 – 45 minutes, by which time the base of the pan will be covered with a rich nut brown, caramelised film.
- Then pour in the stock, white wine and wine vinegar then stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the base of the pan well.
- As soon as it all comes up to simmering point, turn down the heat to a low setting, then go away and leave it to cook gently, without a lid, for about 1 hour.
- Warm the soup bowls and place on a baking sheet.
- Check the seasoning and add the cognac and divide the soup among the warmed bowls. Top each bowl with a slice of *Reblochon Estonian kringle bread nearly big enough to cover the soup and add slices of Reblochon on top.
- Place the baking sheet with the soup bowls on under the grill for about 4 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and melting. Serve immediately with extra slices of the *Estonian Kringle.
*Reblochon Estonian Kringle bread recipe will be my next post…
All photos ©Copyright Caro Blackwell