In the past month, I can count the sunny days we’ve had on one hand. Last week, one appeared out of the blue, and I spent the day walking through the 6th and 15th with my sister, buying a variety of croissants for a new project (more on that later!) and enjoying the sunshine.
But if I’m being truly honest, I can’t complain about the cloudy weather we’ve been having. I actually quite like it. Even if it means that my hair is behaving in a delightfully 80s manner and I have to carry an umbrella everywhere I go, there’s something kind of nice about a grey day…
I’m slightly horrified with myself when I realize that the reason behind this love of Paris’ greyness is because a grey day is the perfect excuse to get a lot of work done… but there you go. People who knew me in high school and college may laugh, but sometime between my last year of university and now, I became a bona fide workaholic. I spend my weekends holed up in the BNF, doing research for my thesis, and I spend my days shuttling myself back and forth between school and work, leaving and arriving home when it’s dark. And yet I haven’t been happier in months.
I think it might be because I’ve chosen something that I really love to do as the way to pay the bills. I’ve been working freelance for several years now, which was fun in and of itself, if a bit stressful, as sources of income changed from one month to the next. But I’m finally nearing a full-time position at a company that I love that allows me to do the things that I love to do — namely speak French and talk about food — and call it “work.” It doesn’t bother me that I have little time for anything else, though it might bother me a bit more if I felt as though I was never taking advantage of the sunshine. You see, there’s no sunshine to take advantage of.
There is, however, a chill in the air… perfect soup weather. For my first foray into French onion soup, I chose an easy recipe that required very little attention on my part, as it bubbled away all afternoon. And I was quite pleased with the results. Next time, I’ll let the onions caramelize even longer, the perfect task to punctuate days of working very, very hard, a little breath of fresh, oniony air between translations, editing photos and replying to endless e-mails.
See? Grey days aren’t so bad.
French Onion Soup (adapted from Henri’s French Onion Soup)
3 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
8 cups water, divided
1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup white wine
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf and a few sprigs of thyme)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 day-old baguette
8 ounces gruyère cheese, thinly sliced
Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and salt. Toss to coat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes to sweat the onions.
Remove the cover and cook the onions, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 90 minutes. Add water by the tablespoon to loosen the fond, stirring frequently. Cook an additional 45 minutes this way, until the onions are an even, very dark brown color. They will lighten in the soup, so keep going!
Add the flour and stir for two minutes. Add the white wine.
Add the remaining water, bouquet garni and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
Turn on the broiler. Slice the baguette to fit the tops of the oven-safe bowls you’ll use for serving. Fill the bowls with soup and top with the baguette slices. Cover with the gruyère cheese. Broil until the cheese bubbles and starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.