Sunday, January 9, 2022

The Perfect French Onion Soup to eat with Hemingway's Movable Feast

I started off 2022 with one of the Hemingway novel's I bought after visiting his former home in Key West last year.  A Moveable Feast is a behind the curtains peak into the world of the 1920's in Paris, the cafe's and restaurants and haunts of Ernest Hemingway and his writer pals Gertrude Stein, Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound etc. Hemingway started writing the book in Cuba and finished it in Spain, but it was published after his death.  The best parts for me were hearing about what he ate and drank in these bistros and cafes.

Finished French Onion Soup

Inspired to make a quintessential French bistro dish I landed on a classic - French onion soup.  I had no shortage of inspiration on the internet recipe troves or my cookbooks, but decided to sign up for an authentic Airbnb online cooking experience live from France. 

Emma lives in Nice, France and also runs a bed and breakfast there.  She teaches a wonderful French Onion Soup Class which you can find on Airbnb. No one else ended up joining so I had my own private class with her which was awesome to be able to ask a lot of questions and get great advice.

Nice France

Emma's Recipe is listed here if you want to follow it precisely, but in a nutshell, here is what I did:


  • 3 lb bag of yellow onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Loaf of french bread (thanks publix)
  • 1/2 stick of butter (come to think of it...maybe I used a half of cup...that's more like a stick...well who's counting?)
  • 4 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 3 tbls of balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic would be best but all i had was white)
  • (I added 2 sugar cubes and a dash of Worchester - sorry Emma I went off script) 
  • 8 oz of Gruyere cheese, grated
  • A bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 3/4 cup (hah maybe more) of white wine

Basic Instructions - for those that need more, again go to Emma's Recipe

  • Peel and chop onions into small chunks
  • Heat butter over high heat and add onions and cook stirring occasionally until golden
  • Chop garlic and add to onions when golden
  • Deglaze the pan with the white wine and stir
  • Add the flour and cook a couple of minutes more
  • Add the balsamic and stir
  • Add the broth/buillon and let simmer 
  • Add the thyme
  • Maybe let the soup simmer 15 minutes
  • While the soup is simmering, slice and toast some french bread and rub it with raw garlic (rub it hard into the bread)
  • Pour the soup into oven safe bowls
  • Top the soup with a couple of bread toasts and big handful of cheese (Don't skimp on the cheese)
  • Put the soup into the oven on broil for about 3 minutes just to melt the cheese - don't brown the cheese or the oil will separate from it and lose the flavor (thanks for the pro tip Emma)

Soup pictured before the big handful of cheese put on top of the bread

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