French onion soup is a timeless classic in France. The French merely call it “soupe à l’oignon,” or simply, onion soup…
Rich and warming, Normandy French Onion Soup is a dish to make while winter’s icy breath is still in the air. Normandy French Onion Soup is a regional bistro classic near Normandy and into Brittany, France. And as good as it is, it’s worthy of this wildly bold, nontraditional maneuver. There are the recognizable ingredients such as homemade chicken stock, fresh herbs, and cheese. However, the revelation here is the use of a hard apple cider. If you are a purist, you could use white wine, but this version takes on an exceptional flavor profile without compromising taste by being daring, and certainly by being different. The quick use of prepared croutons is twofold. Not only are they overwhelmingly easy, but they add balance by way of a savory element against the sweet cidered onions. French onion soup is a timeless classic in France. Yet, the French don’t even call it French onion soup, rather simply “soupe à l’oignon.” It’s just plain old onion soup in France. Imagine that…
In this version of the classic, hard cider is used to elevate both the acidity and the sugar levels of regular sweet onions.
Not any time of year can I resist French Onion Soup. And since tasting, certainly not this Norman version of the grand classic. Onion soup, unsurprisingly, is all about the onions. The quality of the onion is vital, and unfortunately also a bit challenging to many of us in the States. When preparing onion soup, the idea is to strive for both a high acidity and an equally high sugar level. The object is to establish a full-bodied, full-flavored soup. The best onions are Pink Roscoff. Utterly versatile, the Roscoff Onion can be used as a vegetable, a side-dish or as a condiment, raw or cooked. They are feted not just for their color, but also for their exceptional taste.
Et voila, there is balance, and an immediate flavor congruence. Normandy French Onion Soup is a delightfully sweet deviation from the norm to be reckoned with.
But where to find these little-known gems outside of Brittany, France? While I have had success locating them in US groceries from time to time, they are not always available during the time of year I am making onion soup. Hence, the improv with hard cider. In this version of the classic, hard cider is used to elevate both the acidity and the sugar levels of regular sweet onions. Et voila, there is balance, and an immediate flavor congruence. Normandy French Onion Soup is a delightfully sweet deviation to be reckoned with for certain.
Despite substituting hard cider for white wine in the preparation, a good balanced wine is still a good choice while consuming Normandy French Onion Soup. After all, we mustn’t break with all tradition…
Normandy French Onion Soup
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 8 fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 flat leaf parsley sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 1 bottle hard cider
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 3/4 cups chicken stock, homemade if you have readily available
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- prepared croutons any flavored store brand crouton that you enjoy
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup grated Beemster or Gruyere cheese
Building the Soup
- In a 4-quart saucepan, melt 3 of the tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Tie the herbs into a bundle with kitchen twine and add to the pan along with the cider. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. You are looking to cook out the flour and achieve something of a caramel color. Slowly pour in the stock, whisking constantly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Scrape the onions and cider into the stock and cook to marry flavors, about 15 minutes. Discard the herb bundle and season the soup with salt and pepper.
- Ladle the soup into individual soup crocks. Place crocks on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Top each soup with prepared croutons and sprinkle with cheese. Drizzle the cream over the cheese and broil the tops until golden and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Serve the soups immediately.