French Onion Soup - a Twist on a Classic #CooktheBooksClub

This month’s Cook the Books Club selection was chosen by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.  If you’re unfamiliar, in CtBC, participants read the chosen book and then cook something inspired by the book.

This month’s book was Comfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl.  The memoir follows Ruth Reichl (editor of Gourmet magazine) from the late 70s-early 80s and boy, did she lead an interesting life in those years!

I could not tear my eyes from the pages as she lived in a commune with her husband, and ate and drank her way through several extramarital affairs.  I simply couldn’t put the book down!

Though the ending is what truly spoke to me {turn away now if you don’t want spoilers!!}

Ruth finally settles into a long term relationship and eventual marriage and tries to adopt a baby after she has difficult conceiving on her own.  Then, after they’ve just settled in, and baby is taken away (but not before a brief legal battle).  It is heart wrenching.  Absolutely heart wrenching.  I found myself sobbing with Ruth and thinking of my own loss.

Then at the end she finds herself pregnant (after thinking it impossible) and wrote my favorite lines of the whole book:

 "...sometimes even your best is not good enough. And in those times, you have to give it everything you've got. And then move on.” (pg. 296)

" is full of surprises...and there is always hope" (pg. 297)

Loved it!

Click over to GoodReads to see my full review.

Now on to the recipe!  The descriptions of food throughout the entire book are amazing!  I challenge anyone to read the book and not come away hungry!

Many of the chapters are actually titled after foods and then recipes follow.  Once section is all about garlic.  Ms. Reichl uses garlic as a way of healing when one of her affairs ends…uh…while she’s still married (I know, it hurts my brain too).  Anyhow, she decides to pitch the idea to write an entire article about garlic to one of her editors and then goes to visit La Vieille Maison, a restaurant dedicated to garlic (and even included a very questionable garlic massage!)

This twist on a classic French Onion Soup was included at the end of the chapter and I was so intrigued!

I happen to love French Onion Soup, but my recipe used beef stock (this one has chicken stock) and red wine (this one uses white) and there are eggs in the version (waaa???)  I knew it would completely change the flavor profile and I absolutely had to try it!

The resulting soup was absolutely amazing and a nice change of pace from the classic.  My only complaint was that it looks a little off putting…kinda pale with eggy little curdles floating about.  But that’s why it’s covered with cheese!  Mwahahaha!

Will I enjoy the leftovers?  Yes, definitely!  Will I make it again?  Probably, but the classic is still my favorite!

La Vieille Maison French Onion Soup
Adapted from Ruth Reichl via Comfort Me with Apples

½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter
3 ½ lbs yellow onions (5-6 large onions), thinly sliced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp all purpose flour
2 cup dry white wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
4 large eggs
1 tsp cornstarch
4 slices swiss cheese or ½ cup shredded
¼ cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large dutch oven (or oven safe stock pot) over medium heat. 

Add the onions and garlic and season generously with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are softened and just beginning to caramelize (onions will be pale yellow/light tan).

Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the wine, chicken stock, and thyme and bring to a low boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered. 

Then, cover and place in the preheated oven and cook for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, whisk together the eggs and cornstarch and remove the soup from the oven.

Place the egg mixture in a lightweight bowl and place the tines of a fork over the edge.  With the other hand, stir the pot, while slowly pouring the eggs through the tines of the fork to get even little strings of egg throughout the soup. (If you can wrangle an assistant to stir the pot, it makes this step considerably easier!)  Adjust salt and pepper again, if needed.

Ladle the soup into oven safe crocks or ramekins and sprinkle with swiss (or gruyere) cheese.  Place the crocks on a baking sheet and return to the oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Pour a tablespoon of cream over each crock and serve with a side of herby bread.

Serves 4

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  1. Great choice with the soup Amy. I loved this book as well and was impressed with her honesty throughout. Ruth was very spot on with getting her readers to feel what she was feeling...I, too, sobbed through the part where they had to give the baby back. How heart wrenching.

  2. I'm totally drooling over this soup right now!!!

  3. Perfect inspiration Amy--I have been wanting to try this soup too! I am glad you enjoyed the book. Ruth does a great job at holding interest with both her vivid descriptions of her very interesting ;-) life and most especially with the food. Thanks for joining in this round.

  4. Good review Amy. I do enjoy Ruth's writing as well. And the soup looks so good, I've got to try this variation.

  5. Those are great lines that you call out and I absolutely love your photos of this soup. Great choice for CTB.

  6. I love this version of onion soup - so comforting!

  7. One would think that marinating yourself in that much garlic would squash any romantic love affairs. Glad to read this post.

  8. My favorite comfort food is french onion soup, and so beautifully photographed here! Yum -- cathy from Delaware Girl Eats

  9. This is the only recipe in the book that tempted me. It's still in my to-try list. I love the bowl in which you served it.


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