A soubise (sue-beez) is basically stewed onions that have been slow braised in a low oven with a bit of rice to bind it all together. At the end, a bit of cream and cheese is added. It's divine. And classic Julia Child. Is it a "side?" Is it a sauce? You decide. Here, I paired it with fresh asparagus. I've also used it on sandwiches. Paired with beef or lamb, you can't go wrong.
I really encourage you to try this one. As the onions bake, something magical happens. They sweeten and take on a whole new dimension. No, it's not a gratin. It's a bit sweeter, but with a deeper nuance.
The first time I made this, I used a mandolin to make really thin slices. I don't really recommend that route. As the soubise baked, the onions basically disappeared and melted away. The second time, I sliced them by hand. With a proper, sharp knife, it is quick going. The sharper the knife, the less tears you'll shed.
You will need a sturdy, small pot for baking. I don't recommend a baking dish. You want some depth for this dish. I used an 8-inch, cast iron, enameled Dutch oven.
Unlike Julia's recipe, I added one tablespoon of fresh minced thyme to the onions. Once, I subbed a good Parmesan for the required Gruyere. Both work equally well, but the latter will give a bit more gooey nuttiness. You may wish to mix in some chopped parsley at the end for a bit of color.
This keeps well for several days in the fridge.
- 2 lbs. thin-sliced yellow onions (7-8 cups, but I recommend weighing them)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons Arborio rice
- 1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme leaves
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh-grated Gruyere cheese
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 300 F. degrees. Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil.
Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat and begin adding sliced onions and thyme. Cook just until they begin to go soft and are well-coated with the butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
Add rice to the salted, boiling water and cook for just five minutes or so. Drain into a sieve. Add the drained rice to the onion mixture and stir.
Pour mixture into a small Dutch oven or something similar. Cover tightly and bake for one hour, stirring once or twice during the process.
Remove from oven and add the lesser amounts of cheese and cream, adding more if you think it's needed.
If desired, stir in a bit of chopped parsley. This makes about four cups.