Friday Food. March. Meet Jamie Schler.

  • What you’ll find as you read on:
  • An unrelated note from me (see the Home Page)
  • An introduction to Jamie Schler
  • Links for her cooking, hotel, and books
  • French Onion Soup Recipe
  • Where to find Jamie and all her wonderful food expertise and recipes.

I “met” Jamie Schler in the midst of the pandemic and through the former guy’s administration and our mutual resistance. She offered recipes from her home in Chinon, France and brought her followers along as she went (post-pandemic) to a family reunion stateside. I downloaded her free e-book, Isolation Baking, which along with Chef Jose Andres#RecipesForThePeople kept us creatively cooking while “trapped” in our own homes and kitchens. She makes an amazing assortment of homemade jams that she offers as part of her bed and breakfast at her Hotel Diderot in the beautiful Loire Valley. I’m looking forward one day to actually make her French Onion Soup, which is one of my favorite things to eat, and whose recipe I share below.

Jamie is generous with her time and love of food on social media and now on her Substack. She shares her techniques for making jam, which she does in abundance as well as recipes and insights. The jam is one of the highlights of the hotel’s breakfast and jam-making has been a hotel tradition since it’s early days of the 1960s. Each new owner has introduced new varieties of the jams, bringing the total to over 50 kinds.

Jamie Schler in front of her jam cabinet at her hotel, the Hotel Diderot. Her book, Orange Appeal has a prominent place on the cabinet.

The main building of the hotel dates from the 15th century. I can feel the history through the splendid pictures Jamie posts on her social media.

Hotel Diderot (from their website)

A first link to show you how easy cooking can be is: My [Jamie’s] Tips for Stress-Free Baking and Cooking

The main stress-free tip is so simple that it’s hard to believe we need to be reminded of it, but really prepare all ingredients and utensils one day in advance, and then do the cooking the next day. Another thing she recommends is printing out your recipe and using a bookstand for your cookbook. Personally, I’ve been using my kindle for many of my more complicated recipes, i.e., the ones that I can’t improvise with a pinch of this and a dash of that.

Jamie Schler’s Recipe for a very traditional authentic French onion soup (Soupe a l’Oignon)

[I have transcribed this from her twitter. The original can be found here.]

Traditionally, French onion soup – a soup a l’oignon – was a poor man’s dish based on one simple ingredient that was available to everyone pretty much everywhere – the onion. Onions are cooked in a little fat, usually butter or oil, until tender, then simmered in water, seasoned with salt & pepper, creating a broth which is then poured over croutons made from stale bread, and usually, though not always, topped with cheese. It’s a cheap, filling, homey meal that doesn’t need to be gussied up with fancy, more costly ingredients like stock, wine, cognac, or vermouth to be fantastic. It’s pure comfort food. And great everyday fare.

Crock of French onion soup on a cooling rack on a simple white tea towel with a red stripe at the bottom. Crossed spoons on the left.

Let’s go.

  • Ingredients
    • 4 large yellow or pink onions, about 2 pounds/1kg
    • About 4 tablespoons (60 grams) butter and 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, optional
    • 1 rounded tablespoon flour, optional
    • Ground nutmeg, salt, freshly ground pepper
    • 6 cups (1 ½ liters) water
    • 4 slices stale bread or 8 slices baguette, each slice about ½ to ¾-inch thick
    • 5 ½ to 7 ounces (150 to 200 grams) grated cheese, comte, gruyere, Emmenthal, or a ewe’s milk tome
  • You will need a large heavy pot to cook the onions, a large frying pan to make the croutons. And an ovenproof pot (She uses a 9-inch-wide x 3 ½-inch deep (23 x 9 cm) terra cotta risotto dish that can go in the oven.)
  • Peel and thinly slice the onions.
  • Melt about 2 tablespoons butter or a blend of butter and olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion slices and cook over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring constantly – it’s imperative to stir constantly so the onions don’t burn – until very tender.
  • Sprinkle on the flour – this is optional & only serves to help the onions cook as well as thicken the soup – and continue cooking several minutes until the onions begin to color. (*To be honest, she forgot to add the flour and the soup was perfect) *.
  • Generously salt and pepper the onions and dust on a good pinch or two of ground nutmet.
  • Add the water, stir, bring up to a boil, then lower the heat slightly and allow the soup to cook on a high simmer/low boil for 20 minutes. This will create the broth.
  • While the soup is simmering, make the croutons. If using larger slices of bread from a loaf, cut each in 4 pieces. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a frying pan or skillet. When sizzling, add the slices of bread and cook, pressing the slices for even browning, and fry until the bottom side is a nice golden brown. Flip over the pieces, add more butter to the pan if needed, and cook until the other side of each slice is golden brown, too.
  • Lift the croutons out of the frying pan & place in the ovenproof pot.
  • Heat the broiler of the oven.
  • After 20 minutes or so, taste the onion broth & add more salt or pepper as needed. Ladle the onions evenly over the croutons then pour over the soup. Cover the top evenly and generously with the grated cheese.
  • Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted & browned.
  • Seve hot.

Obviously, you can replace some of the water with a dry white wine or vegetable, beef, or chicken stock, but honestly, it’s not necessary. “My version is simple yet fabulous. But next time, I might add a little bleu to the comte or gruyere cheese I top the soup with.”

Step by step photos appear on Jamie’s twitter at the link above.

Where to find Jamie Schler and her Books




Hotel Diderot

Podcast – Stir Crazy with Jamie Schler

You Tube – Stir Crazy

Book – Orange Appeal: Savory & Sweet by Jamie Schler

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