Petite Jacqueline's French Onion Soup
At LeRoux, we look at cooking as so much more than preparing a meal to fulfill your hunger. We are enamored with how cooking can be a powerful tool to bring people together and evoke emotions such as curiosity, wonder, and excitement. There is an opportunity to be challenged and to hone your skills as a cook even in preparing the simplest of dishes. For instance, a classic French onion soup contains only a few ingredients, but it’s the attention to a few essential details and techniques that can take this dish from basic to extraordinary.
We recently had the opportunity to visit the kitchen of local Parisian restaurant Petite Jacqueline just steps away from our Portland, Maine store to see firsthand how Head Chef Nick Dalaimo makes the best version of a French onion soup we’ve ever had. For us, it’s such a gift to see how the products and ingredients we sell are used to create mouthwatering, signature dishes by renowned restaurant chefs.
That afternoon we felt transported to France because of the restaurant's delicious aromas and chic interior. To prepare the restaurant's staple French onion soup, Chef Dalaimo used a Le Creuset round Dutch oven in the new color Provence- a color reminiscent of lavender fields. He explained that the secret behind the success of this simple dish is in the onions and the broth. He opts for a quality Dutch oven because the cookware piece is durable and designed for slow-cooking.
To begin the soup, Chef Dalaimo taught us that you want the onions to be cooked soft but with the slightest crunch. We watched the Chef let the onions turn golden brown before lowering the heat. From there, he left the onions to cook in the Le Creuset on low heat for about 10 minutes. With the onions perfectly caramelized, he then added the sherry and bouquet garni (herbs and peppercorns wrapped in cheesecloth and tied), then cooked until the pot was almost dry. After that he added the veal stock and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Ta-da! The only step left was to finish the soup by broiling a topping of toasted baguette rounds and a generous handful of gruyere cheese until golden brown. With just a few simple steps and the right equipment, Chef Dalaimo created a delectable dish of tender onions, savory broth, and gooey melted cheese.
After seeing what went into making Petite Jacqueline’s French onion soup, we got to share a bowl of it with the restaurant’s owners, Michelle and Steve Corry. Not only did we thoroughly enjoy the soup, but learning about the inspiration behind the restaurant made the afternoon all the more special. We learned that so many of the menu items are inspired by dishes Michelle’s grandmother used to make cooking for the family. In fact, the restaurant was named after Michelle’s grandmother Jacqueline, who grew up in Andresy, just outside of Paris. An enthusiastic and passionate cook, Jacqueline used market-fresh ingredients, to create dishes without pretense that would astound even the most discriminating palate. This is exactly the type of food and atmosphere you’ll enjoy with each visit to Petite Jacqueline.
French onion soup recipe here.
We hope by sharing this story you feel more inspired to cook and enjoy food “the French way” and that you are able to make a tasty meal you can truly savor and enjoy in the company of others. We’re reminded that even in a recipe as simple as classic French onion soup, there is the opportunity for joy and love to be expressed in cooking. To make your own French onion soup just as Chef Dalaimo does be sure to shop our Le Creuset Dutch ovens and browse their entire Provence collection at one of our stores.