Raymond Blanc’s French Onion soup recipe – French Recipes for you to try

Autumn is upon us and colder weather approaching. There is nothing quite like a tasty warming bowl of French Onion Soup and the recipe by Raymond Blanc OBE is tried and tested by the Affinity team. We would like to share it with you.

Acknowledgements are made to a recipe adapted from Raymond Blanc’s recipe book Foolproof French Cookery available from his Hotel and Restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, England

The soup ingredients for 4 persons

50g unsalted butter

4 medium Spanish onions, halved and sliced

1 tbsp plain flour

200ml dry white wine, boil to reduce a little (this removes the alcohol)

1.5Lboiling, light beef stock

1 tsp sugar

Salt and pepper

1 Baguette and 150g Comté cheese, grated to serve

Method

Pre-heat the oven 200°/400°f/Gas mark 6. In a non-stick saucepan melt the butter, without browning, add the onions and soften for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with a few pinches of salt and pepper. 

Continue cooking the onions slowly for 20-30 minutes to achieve a caramel colour, stir frequently to prevent any burning.   

Sprinkle the flour onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes then stir gently into the onions, keep stirring to prevent lumps and mix thoroughly.

Gently stir in the white wine and .5L of boiling stock. When mixed through, add the remaining 1 litre of stock. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum on the surface if necessary. Check your seasoning and add the sugar. 

Just before serving, slice your baguette, place on a baking tray and sprinkle 100g of the grated Comté cheese on top. Bake under a hot grill until the cheese begins to melt and browns. Serve your onion soup into deep warm soup bowls, top with the baguette cheese croutons and serve the remaining grated cheese on the side to sprinkle as required. If you wondering what wine to pair with a French Onion Soup, pour a glass of classic Beaujolais or a Red Bourgogne. Bon Appetite!

The Story of the French Onion Johnny

Whilst enjoying your warming soup you will be forgiven if you picture the archetypal Frenchman in a navy beret, striped shirt, an old bicycle and strings of onions hanging precariously from the handle bars or overloaded baskets. Many young people today may not realise that it is not a fabrication of an Anglo Saxon sense of humour but a reality from the early 20th Century.

Brittany was producing a glut of onions in the 1800s and an entrepreneurial French Onion producer decided to sail to England to try to sell his wares. Legend tells us his name was Yann. Returning fairly soon after, he told his fellow producers how successful his trip had been and how easily he had sold his strings of onions. Yann formed an association with his co-producers and they became known as the “Onion Johnnies”. They travelled from Roscoff to Plymouth and as their success grew, on to the whole of England, Wales and Scotland. They cycled around the country, as some may remember, calling out “Oignons” (pronounced onyons).  The “Johnnies” were a regular sight even up to the 1960s.

At the peak of their trade, during the 1920s there were almost 1400 Johnnies importing over 9000 tonnes of onions.  After World War II as with many trades, life changed, import restrictions affected their business and by the 1970s the numbers had dropped to around 160, selling 1100 tonnes. Shipping and transportation modernised crept in and the Onion Johnnies were no longer.

Although they may have only been seen by the older generation of today, the rest of the world would not mistake them as the epitome of the cheerful Frenchman, not forgetting the navy beret, striped t-shirt and, of course, strings of Onions.

Affinity Holidays France cannot guarantee you will find a bowl of French Onion Soup waiting for you or even in the local restaurants, but you will have no problem buying the fresh ingredients from the local market near your villa. There is something uniquely satisfying with being able to replicate a French recipe while on holiday and surprise the family with your talents.

The kitchens of our villas are well equipped and have all the utensils you need to create your own culinary feast. Why not try our other recipes Farcis Provencaux or Mary Berry’s Tarte Tatin.

Published October 2015