Here is a dish that is a true pillar of the French culinary tradition! One would even say an icon of traditional French cuisine. I had posted about this years ago, but I thought we were due for a refresher post. Plus it’s so darn cold outside :0)
Try the recipe and tell me how it was. For the anecdote, the onion soup was called the soup of the drunks, because it hides very well the smell of red wine: 0) My recipe seems so simple that you could be tempted to add beer, wine or beef/chicken broth. DO NOT DO IT! I myself was tempted the first time and I did well to resist!
For 3 bowls:
- Cut 9 small yellow onions into thin strips (small onions have more flavor and less water) and sauté them in butter. This is the most important step and it took me about 30 minutes over medium heat. The goal is to sauté the onions until you get a uniform caramel color. If you burn them, you will have to start all over again as it will make your soup bitter. YOU WILL REMAIN BY YOUR STOVE AT ALL TIMES. The taste of your soup will depend on this step (The photos here will show you the exact color you need to get).
- Sprinkle a small tablespoon of flour and mix well
- Add 1.5 liters of water and let simmer for about 15mn. Salt, pepper and voila! Taste and add water or salt as necessary.
- Put the soup into ovenproof bowls up to half a centimeter from the top (the pictures show that I was about a quarter of an inch too low)
- Place a slice of toasted baguette on top and then a layer of grated Comté
- Place under the grill for a few minutes. Take it out and sprinkle chopped parsley for color. Serve very hot.
A great thing about this dish is that everything can be done the day before, except for the last 3 steps which you’ll have to follow on the day. It is less stressful if you have guests: 0)
Let’s get back to France for a post or two, and let’s start with one of the most iconic French regions: Brittany.
Back in October, I went to visit my nephew François and his son in Brittany. I also took this opportunity to go see Mont Saint-Michel. Believe it or not, this was my first trip to Brittany. Surprising I know since it is such a lovely and as I said, iconic, part of the country. What a revelation that was! I spend the first three days of my trip in the northern part of the region: Mont Saint Michel (technically located in Normandy), Saint Malo and Dinard. Mont Saint-Michel dates wayyyyyyy back, but it was mostly key in defending us against the Viking invasions, which is kind of funny since my little nephew is from Norway… I did not expect to like Mont Saint Michel so much to be honest. It is such an iconic place and I expected it to be so crowded with tourists. But I must say that it really is the magical place that people talk about despite the tourists. I wouldn’t mind visiting again. That huge monastery on that tiny island out in the ocean and all the natural life surrounding it (swamps, sheep, birds…). Truly special indeed! . This whole area really feels like Normandy. Southern England even… You know they even play the back pipes there.
After a day there, I drove West to Saint Malo which was mostly known for being THE corsair (pirates) hideout back in the day. Then West again to Dinard and finally down to the Vannes area where François’ new raceboat is being built (I think I mentioned before he’s like the best sailor in France – I know I’m bragging, but I’m so damn proud of the little shit!). I ended up in the village of Port la Forêt near Concarneau where he lives. We sailed and ate tons of crêpes and pizza and took long walks on the beach. The fat guy eating the crêpe in the picture is my brother who joined us that weekend.
François just bought the tiny boat you see here to be used as a floating apartment when he visits his son in Norway. He and tiny Viking’s mother are separated unfortunately…
With salt grass lamb and seafood, the culinary specialty of Brittany is crêpes and “galettes”. Galettes are savory crêpes made with sarrasin (black flour). We eat them with apple cider of course. The area is covered with apple trees. I like crêpes better than galettes (with loads of butter and sugar of course). I made it my mission to find the best ones in the region! And I did (you know how dedicated I can be when it comes to my food research). I probably gained 5 pounds in 5 days, but damn it! Mission accomplished! I will post about crêpes when we come closer to the “Chandeleur”. Although the Britons eat crêpes all the time, Chandeleur is when we eat them most crêpes in other parts of the country.
So here are some of my pictures: