This recipe for French Soupe à l’oignon gratinée is another in our series from food and travel writer Ann Mah’s new cookbook Instantly French. This book shows you how to use your electric pressure cooker to create classic French dishes.
“In France, “French onion soup”—topped with a decadent crust of golden, melted cheese—is often called simply la gratinée. Historically served at the bistros surrounding Les Halles—Paris’s former central market—these days it’s more often a late-night supper, slurped at weddings after a long night of dancing.
Traditionally, French onion soup simmers for hours (in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, authors Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck advise setting aside at least two and a half hours to concoct the “perfect brew”). But the intense heat of the pressure cooker—along with a pinch of baking soda and sugar to encourage the Maillard reaction that turns foods mouth-wateringly golden brown—shortens the process to about thirty minutes. And though, admittedly, the texture of pressure-cooked caramelized onions is best described as a dark golden puree, their flavor is every bit as deep and richly sweet. Once the soup is capped with bubbling, golden, broiled cheese, I bet you won’t notice the difference.”
Copyright © 2018 by Ann Mah. Reprinted with permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.
- 2 pounds (900 grams) yellow onions
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick / 60 grams) unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more as needed
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) white wine or sherry
- 1 quart (1 Liter) chicken stock
- To taste freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Halve each onion through the root. Peel and cut the onion halves into 1/2-inch-thick (1.25-centimeter) slices.
- 2 Using the sauté function, melt the butter in the pressure cooker. Add the onions, baking soda, sugar, and salt and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften and begin to release their liquid, about 3 minutes. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Manually release the steam.
- 3 Set a colander over a large bowl. Pour in the contents of the pressure cooker, reserving the liquid. The onions will have disintegrated into a golden mass. Use a wooden spoon to press out as much liquid as possible.
- 4 Set the pressure cooker to the highest Sauté function and allow it to heat. Return the onion mixture to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion mixture darkens in color and begins to stick to the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes.