Paris is a city of iconic landmarks and classic foods. We indulged in both. The Eiffel Tower and Beef Bourguignon, Notre Dame and Soupe de Poisson, The Left Bank and Steak Frites, Musee d’Orsay and Escargots, The Champs Elysees and Macarons… you get the idea.
It is not difficult to eat well in Paris, the neighbourhood bistros call your name. One night Zach found a bistro close to our Airbnb in Le Maris. We ate scrumptious Beef Bourguignon, buttery Escargots, savoury Duck and Soupe a L’Oignon
But where do you eat good onion soup in Toronto? I grew up in the 70's and memories of onion soup was eaten at Jacques Omelettes, Gaston's and Le Papillon. If you happen to be in Paris try the onion soup at Les Mauvais Garçons in Le Marais, it was so incredibly good.
What I liked best about this soup was that it was not drowning in cheese and soggy bread. I could taste the dark rich broth, caramelized melt-in-your-mouth onions and it was topped with a slice of baguette and nutty melted Gruyere. I have been thinking about this soup since coming home and how to make it. The soup in Paris was made with beef broth, mine is vegetarian and but with a few surprise ingredients my soup is almost as rich and delicious.
It's nice to have memories and a big bowl of home made onion soup -- home sweet home in Toronto.
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 lb onions,( about 5 large), cut in half and thinly slice, I use yellow onions.
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup dry sherry or dry red wine
- 1 Tbsp molasses
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- black pepper to taste
- 1 baguette - 6 slices
- ⅔ cup shredded Gruyère cheese or any cheese you like
For the soup:
- Add the butter and oil into in a large pot over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted add the onions, garlic and salt, cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- After five minutes turn the heat to low and cook the onions for 50 to 60 minutes. You only need to stir the onions enough that they do not stick to the bottom of the pan. I check the onions about every 8 - 10 minutes giving them a stir. Slowly the onions will began to caramelize. Exact cooking times will vary, this may happen sooner or you may need to give the onions a bit more time.
- Add the water or broth, thyme, bay leaf, sherry, molasses and mustard.
- Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the soup is simmering I like to puree about 2 cups of soup in a blender, then return back to the pot. This will make the soup a bit thick and creamy. This step is optional.
For the baguette:
- Slice the baguette in one inch slices and place on a lined baking sheet.
- Top with grated cheese and broil until cheese has melted.
- Ladle soup into six bowls.
- Toss each with the toast.
- Serve hot.
- This soup will also be delicious made as onion soup au gratin - just remember to ladle the hot soup into ovenproof bowls, add a thick piece of toasted baguette and as much cheese as you like. Put the bowls on a lined baked sheet and place under the broiler until cheese is melted and crusty brown around the edges. Serve immediately.
- To make this soup vegan omit the butter and cheese.
- If you have time make it a day before you plan to serve to let the flavours mingle together.