French Onion Soup

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summary: recipe for French Canadian Onion Soup; (click on image to see larger view)

soup and salad Did I mention that the French Onion Soup we had the other night was fabulous? And it all came about because we found we had some Swiss cheese left over from making buckwheat crêpes. At first, we were considering whether we should have crêpes again. At the same time, I was leafing through the latest LCBO Food and Drink Magazine and saw a photo of onion and leek soup.

Onion soup… Let’s have onion soup!

Sure, we don’t have onion soup bowls but what does that matter?! We’re very good at improvising and discovered early on that pyrex bowls are extremely useful.

We also remembered that there were some slices of French bread in the freezer that we had been keeping for making stovetop stuffing. But we knew they’d be perfect for the croutons on top of onion soup. And there was some fabulous rich chicken stock in the freezer as well. We decided to make the soup with chicken stock instead of beef stock.

The recipe we use is loosely based on the recipe for “Les Halles Onion soup” in one of the Silver Palate cookbooks by Julee Rosso (which one, which one?? I never remember if it’s the red one or the white one…).

Okay, I just looked… the recipe is in the red one: The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook.

It calls for cognac and white wine – neither of which we had on hand. (We almost always have red wine but rarely have white wine.) So instead of cognac, in went a splash of T’s secret ingredient: rye whiskey.

Yes, yes, we know it’s supposed to be cognac. But didn’t I say that we didn’t have any cognac? Apparently, rye whiskey has often been substituted for cognac in our house. T says that as long as there is a good amount of vanilla tones (from being aged in oak), it works just as well.

And instead of dry white wine, he used dry sherry. See? It’s true. Necessity is the mother of invention.

More specifically, here’s how T made French Canadian Onion Soup:

French Canadian Onion Soup
based on a recipe in The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook


  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • splash Rye Whiskey (or cognac)
  • ½ tsp grainy mustard
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp unbleached allpurpose flour
  • 1 l chicken stock
  • splash sherry
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • 2 thick slices French bread
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1 good shot of Swiss cheese, grated


  1. Heated butter and some olive oil in a big stock pot.
  2. Add thinly slice onions and fry, stirring every so often, until they start to colour.
  3. Added finely chopped garlic and stirred that around until everything is golden.
  4. Add a splash of T’s secret ingredient, rye whiskey, dried thyme, grainy mustard (I can’t say it often enough. Do make your own mustard!) and flour. Stirring often, cook for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the stock, sherry and salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for an hour.


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In the toaster, lightly toast the bread and rub with garlic.
  3. Cut each piece in half and lay the pieces into 4 pyrex bowls. (Ladle a bit of soup into the bottom of the bowl if you want.)
  4. Liberally sprinkle cheese on top and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling.


  1. Ladle soup into two heated bowls.
  2. Float two croutons (cheese side up) on top of each bowl.

Serve with a green leafy salad and red wine.

crouton bowls This entry was posted in cookbooks, etc., food & drink, main course, posts with recipes on by .

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