Grape Harvesters’ Soup

Tourain à la Bordelaise

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

The various tourains of southwestern France are also onion soups. The onions are colored in goose fat, lard, or drippings and the simplest is moistened with water, simmered for from 45 minutes to 1 hour and served over crusts of bread. Garlic is sometimes added, often a spoonful of flour is stirred into the onions after they have been browned and before they are moistened, a handful of French thread-thin vermicelli may be added a few minutes before serving, and terminal egg-yolk bindings are not uncommon. The bread crusts may be rubbed with garlic, and certain households add a bit of vinegar at the last minute.

The following is a typical Bordelais tourain and is traditional at the season of the wine-grape harvest. A native may first eat his sopped bread crust, empty out his (red) wine glass into the soup, and drink the rest from the soup plate, a performance known as faire chabrol (or faire chabrot)—to act like a little goat—and which belongs more to the realm of folklore than to that of contemporary habit.

Ingredients

  • pounds onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 medium firm, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • Slices of stale bread

Method

Using a large, heavy saucepan, cook the onions gently in the oil, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon, until they are uniformly light golden and very soft. Add the salt, the garlic, the tomatoes, and the sugar and continue to cook gently, stirring from time to time, for another 10 minutes. Add the white wine, turn the flame up, reduce by half, stirring, and add the boiling water. Simmer, covered, for from 45 minutes to 1 hour before serving out the soup over crusts of bread placed in the individual soup plates.