Ever since I was a little girl, French onion soup has been a favorite. So when I fell upon the treasure of a cookbook (my mother’s 70’s edition of the Betty Crocker’s Cookbook) when still young and learning to cook, naturally the first soup that I would attempt was the French onion soup. Simple and basic, it’s easy to make and tastes great. Of course, as I learned more about cuisine, I began to add French herbs, some wine (de-alcoholised in our case) and proper gruyere cheese. This weekend, I made it for my visiting sisters that have been craving it for a while. But this time, I added a new ingredient that I learned of from Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking. The addition of egg yolks gave the soup a new dimension and a subtle creaminess that we loved. Thank you Elizabeth! And now for the soup:
3 tablespoons butter, 4 onions sliced ever so thinly; 1 teaspoon mixed dry French provincial herbs (such as: marjoram, thyme, tarragon); 4 cups of preferably beef stock, but chicken will do; ½ cup red wine; 2 egg yolks; couple of drops of natural vinegar, slices of baguette buttered and lightly toasted, grated gruyere cheese.
On medium heat, cook the onions in the butter stirring constantly for 10 minutes until softened. Season with salt, add the herbs, cover and let cook on low heat for 40 minutes. Stir the onions every 10-15 minutes. After the onions have cooked down add the stock and wine and cook covered for 30 more minutes. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks by hand with 2 drops of vinegar and mix in a ladle of the hot soup. Stir the yolk and soup mixture back into the soup until heated through, but (as Elizabeth warns in her book) ‘on no account boiling’. She doesn’t explain why, but I think if the soup boils at this point then the eggs would curdle.
Pour soup into bistro style onion soup bowl, or any oven-proof soup bowl (I used our X-large coffee cups). Cover each soup with slice of the toasted baguettes, enough to cover the surface of the soup. Sprinkle 2-3 heaped tablespoons of gruyere cheese on the floating baguettes. Place the soup bowls under a hot oven grill until cheese melts and bubbles. Be careful not to burn the cheese. Serve and enjoy!