Tuesday, September 6, 2011

French Onion Soup with Gluten Free Cheesy Croutons

It was an icy day in Paris; the streets were glistening and I was huddled into my giant hooded jacket. The wheels of the bus were crackling on the wet tar as we sat at the top of an Open Tour bus, gazing at the many beautiful sites, while our breath turned into chilly smoke (can you say tourist?).

Suddenly, the skies opened, showering us with sleet and other gifts from nature. Freezing, and looking a little like drowned rats, we jumped off at the nearest stop, which happened to be close to the Eiffel Tower, and raced into the closest cafe - teeth chattering. I needed warmth and comfort and I needed it NOW! While briefly checking the menu, my eyes rested on French Onion Soup and I thought, "Hey, when in Paris..."

As my soup arrived, I spied the floating islands of cheesy toasted bliss above a sea of brown and smiled.

Yes, I was happy to see those cheesy croutons as I wasn't expecting them, but I couldn't eat them all the time - in order to make an "authentic" French Onion Soup, I decided to make my own. 

French Onion Soup: (From NoMU Website):
Serves 6

10 large brown onions
80g butter or olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely crushed
2 tsp NoMU Provençal Rub
1 cup white wine
2 litres prepared NoMU Beef Stock
NoMU Just Salt
NoMU Just Pepper
18 slices of French baguette (see recipe for the gluten free bread below)
200 g Gruyere cheese, finely grated

  • Grind the Provençal Rub in a pestle & mortar or spice grinder.
  •  Halve the onions and slice each half into thin slices.
  • Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan and add the onions, garlic, a pinch of salt and Provençal Rub.
  • Sweat the onions until translucent, stirring quite regularly.
  • Add the white wine.
  • Once the alcohol has evaporated, turn down the heat to low, cover the onions with greaseproof paper and continue to cook very gently until all the natural sugars in the onion have caramelized and the onions are soft and sticky. This can take 30-60 minutes.
  • Add the hot beef stock.
  • Bring the soup up to a boil and skim off any froth and oil that rises to the surface. Return the heat to a slow simmer and cook for another 45 minutes. At the end of cooking, season the soup with salt and black pepper.
  • When ready to serve the soup, toast the baguette slices on one side under the grill in the oven. Turn around and cover the other side with Gruyere. Grill until the cheese is golden and bubbling. Serve the soup in warm bowls topped with the Gruyere croutons. Serve at least 3 croutons per person.

Before Attempting this beer bread - please read the below - if you have Coeliac Disease I would recommend that you do not make it, although there seem to be very contradictory views on the subject.

 According to Vital, "Windhoek Light and Bavarian Brau are apparently made using the German method of distillation which is supposed to eliminate the gluten from the fermented grains." Budweiser also claims to be gluten free.

From Wikipedia, "Some brewers feel that beers brewed mainly from cereals such as rice, sorghum, buckwheat and corn (which either contain no gluten or contain glutens that do not trigger an autoimmune response in coeliacs), and including a proportion of barley or rye, are safe to drink. These brewers argue that the proteins from barley are converted into non-harmful amino acids. Statements from brewers show that their scientists feel confident that their product is non-harmful to those who are gluten intolerant. However, there is some concern and evidence that the claim is not true. Although the barley hordeins in such tests may not be detected, smaller pieces of these proteins, known as peptides, may remain and be toxic for coeliacs. However, while it is likely that most coeliacs will be able to drink beer with less than 20ppm such as Budweiser or beer made with rye malt (in moderation) without causing themselves any harm, it is likely that each person has a different level at which an autoimmune response will be activated and there is some debate over the gluten "level" acceptable to coeliacs.  There are brewery statements that "normal beverages" such as Budweiser are safe, tempered with advice that they should be drunk with caution."

This recipe is modified from the amazing Ishay's blog - Food and the Fabulous. I wanted a simple recipe and this one seemed to tick all the boxes.

Beer Bread with Lemon and Thyme:

2 Cups Sifted Glutagon Cake Flour
1 Cup Sifted Maizena
2tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Baking Soda
2tsp Salt
50ml Sugar
340ml Bottle Beer (Windhoek Light)
1/2 Cup Oil (I used Canola)
Zest of 1 Lemon
Juice of Half a Lemon
1Tbsp Thyme Leaves, removed from stalks

  • Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius
  • Grease a standard baking loaf tin
  • Mix all ingredients together, until well combined
  • Pour batter into tin and bake for 1 hour or until skewer inserted into centre comes out clean (My bread took 35 minutes, but I am assuming it is because I had the fan on)
  • Allow to cool for 20 minutes before turning out onto wire rack


  1. A lovely story. I'm so flattered that you used my recipe (and modified it GF). looks delicious.

  2. Thanks Ish :) I couldn't believe how simple it was to make or how good it tastes. Yum! Thanks for the recipe :)