I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Gruyere Soup with Onion Jam

Gruyere Soup with Onion Jam

I marked a recipe for Gruyere Soup in an old community cookbook years ago. It was very plain, nothing fancy, but I marked it thinking that I could doctor up the recipe with vegetables or herbs or wine or any manner of ideas.  But when I came around to making the soup, to test out my theories, I suddenly had the idea that instead of complicating the soup, I could turn it into a sort of reverse-engineered French onion soup.  So I kept the soup simple, letting the nutty gruyere shine through with a classically French hit of Dijon mustard.  Instead of those oozing cheesy toasts, I float a crisp toast spread with a very rich and flavorful caramelized onion jam.  The whole blends into a rich and creamy bowl with the homey French flavors re-imagined in a whole new way.

I love the contrast of the pale, almost buttery, soup with the mahogany rich onions floating on the surface.  Using red onions and adding a little cassis to the jam deepen the color and the flavor.  I find that finely diced onions make the whole easier to eat and I choose a larger Italian-style loaf over a baguette so there is one nice onion-y raft floating in the bowl.  I have thought, but never attempted, to serve this as they would in a restaurant.  Serve each diner a bowl with a mound of onions on the toast at the bottom, then pour over the hot soup tableside.  Wouldn’t that be a sight.

 

Gruyere Soup with Onion Jam
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. Gruyere Soup
  2. ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  3. ½ cup all-purpose flour
  4. 4 cups half and half, at room temperature
  5. 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  8. 4 cups chicken broth
  9. 8 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
  10. 1 loaf soft Italian bread
  11. Onion Jam
  12. 2 large red onion, finely diced
  13. 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  14. 3 Tablespoons butter
  15. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  16. 1 cup white wine
  17. 3 Tablespoons cassis
  18. 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  19. black pepper
For the Soup
  1. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium. Whisk in the flour and cook until thick and smooth and pale in color, about 4 minutes. Slowly add the half and half, whisking until the soup is thickened and smooth, about 5 – 8 minutes. Whisk in the mustard, salt and nutmeg until fully incorporated. Add the chicken broth and stir until combined, then heat the soup to a low bubble, but do not boil. Stir the grated gruyere in a handful at a time, making sure each addition is melted before adding the next. The soup can be made a few hours ahead at this point, cooled and refrigerated. Reheat gently over low heat before serving. Do not boil.
For the Jam
  1. Melt the butter and oil over medium high heat and add the diced onions. Sprinkle over the salt and cook until the onions are soft and translucent and just beginning to brown. Add the ½ cup of the wine and cook until it has evaporated, stirring frequently and scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cassis and brown sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender and the sugar is melted. Add several grinds of black pepper. Add the remaining ¼ cup of wine and ¾ cup of water and stir well. Cover and cook for 5 minutes to help soften the onions. Remove the cover and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the liquid is reduced to a light syrup coating the onions. You want a jammy consistency with soft, tender onions. Add a little but more water and cook it off if you need to. Season to taste if needed, then leave to cool. The jam can be kept covered in the refrigerator at this point for several days.
To serve
  1. If you have stored the onion jam in the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature or gently reheat it over low heat. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 400°. Slice the bread into ½ inch slices and lightly toast on one side on the wire rack. Flip the toasts over and spread the toasted side of four to six slices with a thick layer of onion jam. Heat the toasts in the oven for a few minutes until the jam is warmed through. Ladle the warm soup into four bowls and float an onion toast in each bowl. Serve any extra onion jam and toast slices at the table for people to add to the soup as they like.
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