Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée

The queen of all soups. Food critic Amanda Hesser described it: "It is one of the strangest and most delicious soup recipes I’ve encountered. ... By the time it is done, the 'soup' is like a savory bread pudding and the top has a thick, golden crust that your guests will fight to the death over."


For some reason tradition, and perhaps inertia, the custom of separating sweet and savory food

began - when meals took a more ordered structure; sugar was considered a disease-causing factor in the cuisine. This continues to a great extent today.


Mixing the two without spoiling people's expectations requires not only talent but also courage. This dish was neither exactly dessert nor main.


Although rice pudding seems completely unrelated to its ancestor, which is Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée, however, they are related. The common feature of the two dishes is that a thin layer is formed on the top and this is the part that gives the meal its main taste.


Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée comes from the French cookbook "Gastronomie Pratique" written by Henri Babinski in 1907. The New York Times magazine first translated this recipe book into English and published it in 1974.


To tell you my personal expression, it's one of the strange and most delicious soup recipes I've come across. Baguette toasts are spread with butter and grated Gruyère cheese, sauteed onion, and tomato puree are added to it. Then, salt water is poured into the griddle pan. Then the meal is cooked for a long time, and when cooked the "soup" is like a delicious bread pudding, the thin section on top of the soup is the most delightful part that your guests will enjoy.


Let the taste speak and take you on a journey through the 1907's.


Ingredients:


Prep Time: 20 Minutes Cook Time: 50 Minutes Portions: 6

  • 1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices (about 25 to 30)

  • 9 tablespoons butter, softened

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 9 ounces shredded cheese ideally French Comté cheese (or Emmental of Gruyère) (Finely Grated)

  • 8 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 12 cups)

  • Chicken broth or beef or vegetable if you prefer

  • 100 ml dry white wine optional

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, more to taste

  • 1 cup tomato purée.

Steps for you to follow!


1. Toast the baguette slices and let them cool. Spread a generous layer of butter on each slice (you will need about 5 tablespoons), then lay the slices close together on a baking sheet and top with all but 1/2 cup of cheese.


2. In a large saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden, about 15 minutes.


3. In a 5-quart casserole, arrange a layer of bread slices (about 1/3 of them). Spread 1/3 of the onions on top, followed by 1/3 of the tomato purée. Repeat for two more layers. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. To avoid boiling over, the casserole must not be more than 2/3 full.


4. In a saucepan, bring 1 1/2 quarts water to a boil. Add the salt. Very slowly pour the salted water into the casserole, near the edge, so that the liquid rises just to the top layer of cheese without covering it. (Depending on the size of your casserole, you may need more or less water.)


5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the casserole on the stove and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, then transfer to the oven and bake uncovered for 1 hour. The soup is ready when the surface looks like a crusty, golden cake and the inside is unctuous and so well blended that it is impossible to discern either cheese or onion. Each person is served some of the baked crust and some of the inside, which should be thick but not completely without liquid. Serves 6.


I recommend you to try this recipe to discover new tastes from different cultures. Stay tuned for new recipes.


Bon Appétit!



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