Slurp for the soul
With French eateries opening in Mumbai and European cuisine menus including the dish, here's looking at the classic French onion soup and how it's being enjoyed
On some evenings, you yearn for a bowl of comforting soup. And the seemingly-simple French onion soup fits the bill perfectly.
As authentic as it gets
Soufflé S'il Vous Plaît is run by two French chefs — so the recipe is sure to mirror the one in France. The humble preparation is integral to most French households. "French onion soup is to French cuisine what butter chicken is to Indian cuisine, outside its country of origin. So, the dish we referred back to as the one that set the tone of this restaurant's menu as a whole was the onion soup," says Alexis Gielbaum, chef and partner. The only variation in their traditional version is that they use Himalayan Gruyère gratinated on top of the croutons. "It may require substantial time to first source bones with marrow content — we use the shin — and roast it. The stock must simmer for a minimum of eight hours [they simmer it for 12] to extract the full flavour which gives the soup its umami. As this is time-consuming, people use powdered stock, which is where they go wrong," explains Gielbaum. They also have a vegetarian version. "It required substantial tweaking to obtain the same level of umami as its non-vegetarian counterpart while maintaining the authentic flavour. We roast tomato, garlic and zucchini in the oven, which are then simmered slowly to make a rich vegetarian stock. But none of these vegetables can really be detected in the final product," he shares.
At Soufflé S'il Vous Plaît, ground floor, Nagin Mahal, Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate.
Time 7 pm to 1 am
Cost Rs 380
An Italian twist
Get a taste of two unique dishes at this Khar eatery that has come up with a version of the French onion soup that features Tortellini in Brodo, an Italian dish of meat-filled pasta in a rich clear broth. So, the soup here is essentially a cheese and onion filled pasta in a lamb broth with caramelised onions and crisp Gruyère tuille on top. "The soup calls for some careful methodology. My version has many complex methods so it would be tricky to make. I wanted to serve a true tortellini in brodo but later realised we don't serve beef in Mumbai. And so we went with a lamb broth," says chef Viraf Patel.
At Olive Bar & Kitchen, 14, Union Park, Khar West.
Time 7.30 pm to 1 am
Cost Rs 450
Twice the cheese
Giving foodies an authentic taste of the French onion soup, this Bandra eatery hasn't tweaked their recipe much from the original. They offer a cosy stock with fresh thyme sprigs, finished off with crusty French baguette slices and Swiss and Gruyère cheese melted on top. "It's budget comfort food at its finest. The lengthy cooking time has two phases: caramelising the onions slowly, and then simmering the broth for a long time with the caramelized onions. Fortunately, most of the time it is hands-off. You can even do the simmer in a low oven (250°F) or in a slow cooker," says Amit Sharma, chef and co-founder.
At Poetry by Love and Cheesecake, ground floor, shop 6, Pali Darshan, 33rd Road, Bandra West.
Time 8 am to 12 am
Cost Rs 252
Old is gold
For this eatery that's been serving the soup for 33 years now, the recipe has stayed the same. "We put the soup on our menu to give customers something other than heavy, cream-based soups. We add a secret vegetarian ingredient to give it the right robust flavour," says chef Yajush Malik.
At Gallops Restaurant, KK Road, Mahalaxmi.
Time 12 pm to 12 am
Cost Rs 325
With the exception of using vegetable stock instead of beef in their soup to cater to vegetarians, this SoBo eatery has stuck to the original recipe. "It does not get more classic than the French onion soup. The colour and taste of the soup depends on the caramelising of the onions. If you overdo it or undercook it, the consistency and taste aren't right," says chef Louis Gomes.
At The Table, Kalapesi Trust Building, Colaba.
Time 12 pm to 3.30 pm, 5.30 pm to 1 am
Cost Rs 550
Also check out
. Enjoy a robust version of the soup at Churchgate's iconic bakery and eatery.
At Gaylord, Mayfair Building, VN Road, Churchgate. Time 9.30 am to 3.30 pm, 7.30 pm to 11.30 pm Call 22044693 Cost Rs 265
. Check out a deconstructed version of the dish, with an onion soup base, infused with sherry and thyme and finished with Gruyère-stuffed onion shells and thyme crumble on top of a cheese crisp, at this Powai café.
At Lake View Café, Renaissance Hotel, 2 & 3B, Powai. Time 6.30 am to 1.30 am Call 7506077166 Cost Rs 695
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