French Onion Soup – Soupe à l’oignon au gratiné

The very first recipe that I cooked for someone outside of my family was in my ninth grade French class. For a project that entailed opening a french bistro (for one day), we had to come up with a french recipe, cook it and serve it. My group of four people made the following:

Soupe à l’oignon au gratiné

That phrase has stuck in my head for nearly twenty five years now.

Soupe à l’oignon au gratiné

For a child of 15, the phrase rolled off the tongue with joy and ease. In my mind, the primary essences of the French language were seemingly all present. There is the gender distinction of the feminine Soupe. There are the common accents found upon the ‘a’ (à) and ‘e’ (gratiné). There is the abbreviated determiner (l’). And then, my favorite, the word oignon itself, which gave a bunch of college bound children from a blue collar neighborhood to use our newly discovered exaggerated French accents. If ever there were a surreal moment in my life, it would be the time when I sat in a classroom of 25 children, each of us nearly shouting the word “Unh-Yunh!! Unh-Yunh!!

Yes, in my opinion, there is no better phrase in the French language than
Soupe à l’oignon au gratiné.

Say it out loud. You’ll see what I mean.

  • 5 Yellow onions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 cups canned beef consume
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 oz. cognac
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • 6-8 slices from a day old baguette (or you can toast the slices as well)
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 6 slices Gruyere cheese

Place a dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat and allow to come to temperature. Add the butter. Once butter has melted add a layer of onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat layering onions and salt until all onions are in the pot. Do not try stirring until onions have sweated down for 15 to 20 minutes. Lower the heat to medium/medium-low. Cook the onions for 50-55 more minutes, stirring the onions every five minutes or so. The onions should be a deep reddish brown.

Cover the onions with the white wine. Turn heat to high, allowing the wine to reduce reducing (this should take about 5 minutes). Add the beef consume, the chicken broth, apple cider, cognac and the herbs. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes. When the soup is considered done, remove the herbs.

To serve, place 1-2 slices of the baguette in an oven safe bowl and ladle the soup over top. Top with a slice or two of Gruyere. Place under a broiler long enough for the cheese to melt and brown.

Serves 4-6


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