Les Halles French Onion Soup

Anthony Bourdain, my favorite tv chef, was the head chef at Les Halles for a while.  This recipe is from the Les Halles cookbook and was helpfully put up over at Chow.com.  I made a few small changes based on what I thought sounded good and what ingredients I could find (you just try finding Gruyère cheese in Syracuse Utah).

Makes 8 servings.  Also note Britnie thought the onion to liquid ratio was out of wack.  So maybe subtract an onion or two if you don’t like large amounts of onion in every bite.


For the broth

  • 6 ounces butter
  • 8 large onions (or 12 small onions), thinly sliced.  I used half yellow and half red onions which I thought was a nice balance.
  • 1/3 cup port wine
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 4 ounces thick cut bacon diced
  • 1 bouquet garni (I used sage, thyme and parsley)  If you’re using it dry just use 1/2 T of each.
  • IMG_4845

    bouquet garni before being wrapped up in cheesecloth

For the croutons and cheese:

  • 16 croutons made from baguette sliced 1/2 inch thick and coated with olive oil and kosher salt.   Bake at 350 for about ten minutes.  Get them nice and hard because they’re going to get wet.
  • Sliced provolone cheese
    Melt the butter on a large pot until it starts to turn light brown. Add the onions and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and browned (about 20 minutes). Add a pinch of kosher salt.  The onions need to start browning really well, lots of good color.

  • Increase the heat to medium high and stir in the port wine and the vinegar, scraping all that brown goodness from the bottom of the pot into the liquid. Add the chicken stock.  Add the bacon and the bouquet garni, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, skimming the fat off the top occasionally. Remove the bouquet garni.
    1. When it’s finished cooking fill soup bowls that are safe to go in the oven.  Cover the top with two or  three croutons side by side.  Put slices of the cheese on top so it covers everything and goes over the sides a little.
    2. Turn on the broiler to heat up for a few minutes then stick it under the broiler until the cheese gets dark brown and is really bubbly.
    3. Take it out and eat it.
    4. IMG_4851


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  1. #1 by Mom on February 24, 2010 - 9:18 pm

    French onion soup is one of my favorites. I happen to have some Gruyère cheese in my fridge – I would have gladly run it down to you in exchange for some soup. It looks yummy!

  2. #2 by Jennifer on February 25, 2010 - 1:02 pm

    That looks delicious. Perfect for cold weather.

  3. #3 by Josh on February 26, 2010 - 12:50 am

    Brooke and I have been thinking about trying an ATK version that uses like 15 large onions, but discards all the onions after they let up their liquid. We’ll let you know how it goes.

  4. #4 by Jeremy on February 26, 2010 - 8:21 am

    Like an onion broth? That might be good.

  5. #5 by Josh on February 28, 2010 - 8:38 pm

    Yeah, it looked delicious when we watched it. Not quite sure how we’ll do the cheese and bread yet.

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