Gratin Lyonnais

In making Soupe a l’oignon Gratinée, or French Onion Soup, there are two basic schools of thought:  1)  the Paris school, which developed around the wholesale market at Les Halles, and which always features beef broth  2)  the Lyon school, which demands a soup made with chicken stock, maybe because of the proximity to Lyon of Bresse and its famous  rouge-blanc-bleu chickens. I prefer the Lyonnais style, because the use of lighter flavored chicken stock allows the taste of the onions to be featured.

At Le Pichet and Cafe Presse, we add “duck jello” to our onions soup.  Duck jello is the term we use to refer to the gelatin rich duck juices that are left in the bottom of the pot when slow cooking duck legs for confit.   Clearly this is an ingredient that is not in every larder.  This sort of addition is typical of the French bistro kitchen, where nothing tasty is ever allowed to go to waste.

For  8 Servings:



Gratin Lyonnais (French onion soup)


  • 2 ½ # yellow onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ stick unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups Sherry
  • ¾ cups dry white wine
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • 2 cups grated gruyère
  • 8 large croutons


Serves 8 generously

  1. Peel the onions and slice thinly. Peel the garlic, remove the germ if it is green, and slice thinly.  Wash and pick the thyme and chop finely.
  2. In a large soup pot over medium heat, sweat the onions and garlic with the butter, stirring often, until richly colored. Add the sherry, increase the heat and cook until it almost completely reduced.  Add white wine and reduce by half.  Add the thyme and bay and enough chicken stock to give a nice ratio of stock to onions.  Simmer to combine the flavors, about 20 minutes.
  3. Carefully skim off any fat. Correct the seasoning with salt and black pepper.
  4. To make the croutons, bake ½ inch thick slices of hearty bread on a sheet pan in a 350-degree oven until dry and crisp.
  5. Spoon the soup into individual bowls. Top first with a crouton and then a nice layer of grated gruyère cheese.  Heat under the broiler until crusty and golden.  Serve immediately with a light red wine such as a Beaujolais or Cabernet Franc.


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1 thought on “Gratin Lyonnais”

  1. Nichole (from Seattle!)

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I just LOVE Le Pichet and Cafe Presse. I live walking distance from both. I could seriously eat and these two spots everyday for the rest of my life and die very happy.

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