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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

(French) Onion Soup

TONIGHT , with the ingredients I'd picked up the previous night at Westside Market, I'd made for myself (French) onion soup. (the recipe was titled "Onion Soup," but the cookbook consisted of French recipes--so does that make it French onion soup?) First I had to consult blogger friend, Anneke Shoneveld's blog, Balsamic Reductions on how to properly cut and chop an onion. (it wasn't until I'd read this post, over a year ago, that I realized I had no idea how to properly cut an onion)

so far, so good (and easy)!

The recipe I was following came from the cookbook, French Cooking in Ten Minutes (or Adapting to the Rhythm of Modern Life) by Edouard de Pomiane. The book's original publication was in 1930, but this 1994 reprint still contains several pen and ink drawings from the original 1930 edition. And all of M. de Pomiane's unequivocal wit and wisdom is there to boot:

page xxxvii
I won't go on trying to explain or defend myself; I will simply show you how many wonderful dishes you can prepare in ten minutes. ... I am writing this book for students, dressmakers, secretaries, artists, lazy people, poets, men of action, dreamers, scientists, and everyone else who has only an hour for lunch or dinner but still wants thirty minutes of peace to enjoy a cup of coffee. ... Modern life is so hectic that we sometimes feel as if time is going up in smoke. But we don't want that to happen to our steak or omelet, so let's hurry.

As a pot of water was boiling on the stove (note in De Pomiane's introduction, "Some Indispensable Concepts for Understanding this Beautiful Book": 
... The first thing you must do when you get home, before you take off your coat, is go to the kitchen and light the stove. ... Next fill a pot large enough to hold a quart of water. Put in on the fire, cover it, and bring it to a boil. What's the water for? I don't know, but it's bound to be good for something...

... I removed the parmigiano-reggiano from the refrigerator and began grating it.

according to my book, some good cheese was
indispensable for this recipe...

As the onions were cooking "over a very hot fire," I tore and arranged some stale bread in the bottom of a bowl and topped the pieces with the grated cheese.

I had to hold myself back from filling
my bowl with the DOP cheese...

When the onions seemed close to being done, I added: one teaspoon of flour followed by a bit of warm water, then just under two cups of the boiling water. (M. de Pomiane was right, it was bound to be good for something!) 

the final step required eight minutes more over the fire

... et voilà!

Perhaps it wasn't the most beautiful-looking soup, but it certainly did feel and taste authentically "French rustic."

Onion Soup
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 tsp. flour
Boiling water
Salt and pepper
Stale bread, or toast
Grated Parmesan cheese
Hot milk, cream, or 1 beaten egg (all optional)
  • Place some butter in a frying pan, and when it begins to smoke, add the onion. Cook over a very hot fire until the onion is a nice mahogany brown. Add the flour, stir it in well, then moisten the mixture with a little warm water. Add enough boiling water to bring the total amount of liquid to 2 cups. Now pour the soup into a pot. Bring it back to a boil, and let it cook for 8 minutes; then add salt and pepper to taste. In a serving bowl, place some small pieces of stale bread, or toast, and sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over them. Add the soup and serve.
  • Just after you have poured the soup into the serving bowl, you can add, if you like, a little hot milk, some cream or a beaten egg.

This recipe will serve one, as a main course, or can be shared between two, as a starter. French Cooking in Ten Minutes can be purchased on the Macmillan website. 

 Bon appétit!
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