Classic onion broth topped with a gratinéed plushy pillow (literally) of whipped crème fraîche/egg yolk/fresh goat cheese
A hangover remedyOnion soups are for me irresistibly associated with rugby games. First of all, and this has -directly- nothing to do with onion soups, it is important to know that rugby is probably the only collective sport where both teams, the winning one and the losing one, are partying together after a game. I played this sport when I was a student, alas for a short time as I dislocated my left shoulder in one of those rough tackles proper to this sport. I played enough though to keep fantastic memories of those 3-half time games. Yes, three halves, the first two on the field... and the third one in the bars... One of of my most beautiful memories is when my school team played the London Business School in London. I don't remember who won the game, but I remember both the ale and this great spirit of camaraderie that were both abundantly flowing in the pubs where we spent the third half. Another souvenir is those onion soups shared at the Pied de Cochon (open 24/7) in the district Des Halles in Paris, early in the morning after those night long rugby libations in the then iconic Red Lion pub on the Champs-Élysées. If you want a tip, there is nothing better than a soupe à l'oignon to recover from the game efforts and get rid of the alcohol fatigues...
Know your onionsNo hangover the other day, just the Old Man Winter paying his usual annual visits to Ohio. And onion soup is great with that too. Moreover, onion soup is one of those simple recipes that is made with almost nothing and that you can adapt at your convenience and/or according to what you have in the fridge:
- White, yellow, red onions? Choose what you like, and why not a mix of those. Personally I like to associate the sweetness of the red onion with the acidity of a dry white wine. But for the recipe featured here, I just used a white onion.
- How to cook the onions? As you wish. There are different chapels, either to color them lightly till they become translucent, playing on their sweetness notes, or the opposite way, to caramelize them till quasi burned to enhance savors and add a touch of pungency.
- Broth or no broth? And if so, which one? Any broth will make it, chicken, beef, simply vegetable (even made with "trimmings & peelings"). But simple water will make it too. In the recipe that inspired the creamy onion soup featured here, the Michelin 3-star French chef Alain Passard only use water. Generally, but I make many exceptions to this "rule", if I start the soup from scratch, with just the onions and no broth, this is where I "burn" the onions.
- Wine or no wine? Again, do what you like. But here again, it could be interesting to use wine if you don't use a broth or a stock. The only thing, in my opinion, is to use a dry white wine (please, no Sherry!) and to let it boil a while to keep the flavors and the acidity, and to eliminate the alcohol.
- Other ingredients? Why not. Although I am not at all in the "everything's better with bacon" craziness, I like to add bacon dices and to sauté them with the onions. And if you ever have foie gras trimmings -as a matter of fact, I am a believer in "everything's better with foie gras"-, they are great also in the soup
Ingredients (for 2 servings)
- 1 big white onion, peeled and sliced or diced
- 4 tbsp. of butter
- 1/2 glass of dry white wine
- 1 carrot
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled de-germed, studded with cloves
- thyme, 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 gallon of (home made) chicken broth
- 4 tbsp. of crème fraîche
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 oz. (~1/2 package) of fresh goat cheese for the topping and 1 oz. for the croûtons
- 1 tbsp. of whole milk
- salt, Espelette or pepper
- grated nutmeg
- croûtons topped with gratinéed goat cheese
RecipeMake a classic onion soup broth:
- Cook gently the white onion slices, with thyme and bay leaves, in the butter till translucent, stirring them up regularly
- Add the white wine and put it to boil to evaporated the alcohol
- Add the broth, the carrot segments, the studded garlic cloves
- Season moderately (salt, pepper)
- When boiling, put to low medium, and let simmer and infuse for 1/2 hour
- Whip the crème fraîche (not too much, otherwise it turns into... butter!)
- Add the previously broken yolk and mix very gently
- Add the goat cheese and whisk the whole
- Add the whole milk as necessary and whisk to obtain a smooth texture
- Pour the broth in oven proof bowls
- Cover the broth with the goat cheese cream, spreading it as much as possible all over the surface (don't worry if it is NOT perfect, the next broiling stage will arrange that)
- Grate some nutmeg on the cream
- Put it under the broil at 500 F for 5 minutes or till it takes a nice golden brown color
- Serve with the croûtons to dip into the soup "below the pillow".