Lesley Chesterman Normandy Onion Soup Recipe

Makes six rations

Onion soup

  • 1.5 kg (3 lb, about 7 medium) mixed onions
  • 6 branches of Italian parsley
  • 6 fresh thyme branches
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 rosemary branches
  • 135 g (10 tablespoons) butter
  • 500 ml (2 cups) Norman style dry cider or apple cider
  • 50 g (1⁄3 cup) flour for all uses
  • 1.5 L (6 cups) chicken or vegetable soup
  • 18 slices of baguette ½ inches (1.27 cm), cut diagonally
  • 30 ml (6 tablespoons) calvados * (optional)
  • 300 g (3 cups) minced cheese
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) chopped chickpeas or parsley
  • Freshly ground salt and black pepper


1. Peel the onions, cut them in half and cut them into thin slices.

Tie the parsley, thyme, bay leaf and rosemary in a bunch of kitchen twine.

In a large cast iron skillet (Le Creuset style), melt 80 g (6 tablespoons) butter over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to froth, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

4. When they start to climb to the bottom of the pan, this is the signal that they are ready. Coat with cider and add herbs. Let it simmer, then lower the heat to keep a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a second medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 55 g (4 tablespoons) butter.

6. When melted, add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the roux is lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

7. Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring constantly, and then let it simmer completely. Turn down the heat to simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

8. Add the hot liquid to the onion mixture and cook until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.

9. Remove the herbs, then adjust the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

10. Pour the soup into the bowl, then on top of each bowl with three slices of toasted baguette.

11. Place the dishes on the baking sheet and sprinkle 50 g (1/2 cup) Gruyere on each.

12. Transfer to the oven and simmer until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly, about 5-7 minutes.

13. Sprinkle some minced chickpeas or parsley on top and serve immediately.


1. Preheat the grill.

Place the baguette slices in the pan and toast, turning once, until lightly browned.

3. Add 1 tablespoon. Calvados in any serving bowl (heat resistant).

Note by Lesley Chesterman: For this soup, I like to mix onion varieties, but avoid using only white onions because they are less delicious.

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