Citizens, this is an almost lost version of onion soup, rarely seen today outside of France and most specifically the city of Lyon, from where this rich and delicious recipe originates!
Be sure and DO use the egg yolk and port – it is what makes this classically Lyonnais! And as for using water instead of good beef stock – the horror!
As noted by Jacques Pepin:
From the Lyon region of France, this onion soup is much thicker than the usual kind. It’s often served as a late-night dish. When I was a young man, I often made it with my friends at two or three A.M. after returning home from a night of dancing.
The soup is strained through a food mill and put in a large tureen or casserole that goes into the oven. Once it is baked, egg yolk and port are mixed together in front of your guests and poured into a hole made in the center of the cheese crust.
Then the whole soup is mixed together — both the crust and the softer insides — and served in hot bowls. It looks thick and messy, but it is delicious!
So there are two main versions of onion soup in France: the one in the manner of Paris (the one that most people know and love) and the one in the manner of Lyon.
As it happens, the original version is almost certainly the one from Lyon, considering that the oldest written recipe of a similar soup is the one written by Alexander Dumas Père (yes, the author of ‘The Count of Monte Christo’ and ‘The Three Musketeers’, he was also a famous gourmand) with the name ‘Soupe à l’Oignon à la Stanislas’ (and it was made with water).
The main differences between the soups from Paris and the ones in Lyon are in the use of the broth and of the wine: in Paris they traditionally use the vegetable or meat broth, instead in Lyon traditionally they used just water (but nowadays, most chefs do use broth).
In Paris they traditionally use either white wine or red wine (or Cognac) in their soup, whle in Lyon it’s often made with Madeira or Port wine.
Citizens, you simply MUST try my version of this classic recipe! Enjoy it with a classic French meal, perhaps with this classic Lyon salad as the next course!
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