Chef Julia’s Soubise, or, We Thought This Would Be Weirder Than It Was

So, soubise (pronounced soo-BEEZ) is this French onion-and-rice stuff that I’d never heard of before seeing the recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I thought, well, I like rice and onions. Let’s give it a shot. I was a little worried that it would come out tasting…terrible? But I was pleasantly surprised.

To make soubise (not to be confused with sauce soubise, which is this stuff plus bechamel all pureed together), preheat the oven to 300 F. Then take:

  • 1/2 c. rice
  • 4 quarts rapidly boiling water
  • 1.5 tbsp. salt

Dump the rice into the boiling, salted water and boil for 5 minutes exactly. Drain the water out entirely, immediately. Set aside for a few minutes, while you grab the following:

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 2 lb. (6-7 c.) thinly sliced (yellow) onions
  • >1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper

In a 3-quart-ish casserole or other oven-and-stove safe dish, heat the butter until it foams, then stir in your sliced onions. The recipe says yellow, but I used two different types of purple onions and yellow onions mixed together for some variety and it was just fine. As soon as the onions are covered in butter, mix in the cooked rice, salt, and pepper. Cover the container, stick it in the oven, and set a timer for 55-60 minutes. You should stir it occasionally (once every 15 minutes or so) just to keep things moving.

Science! The onions contain enough natural liquids to finish cooking the rice. Fascinating!

After your hour’s up, the rice and onions should be quite tender. You can add a little more salt and pepper if you think it’s too bland. Then, take the following:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 c. whipping cream
  • 1/2 c. grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 tbsp. softened butter

Mix all three in. I say 1/4-1/2 cup of whipping cream because Julia calls for 1/4 of each (whipping cream and Swiss cheese) and it just isn’t enough for my taste. I wanted this stuff creamy. When you’re done stirring these items in, plate it with some chopped parsley on top. You’re done! We thought it tasted like fancy onion rings, but without the deep fried, breaded part. Because our palates are classy like that.

By Meghan Young Krogh

Meghan had a number of quality writing mentors over the course of her education, which just goes to show that you can't blame the teacher for the way the student turns out. Team Oxford Comma represent.

2 replies on “Chef Julia’s Soubise, or, We Thought This Would Be Weirder Than It Was”

You probably want a soft cheese that’s not too spreadable. What about a havarti? That would be similar in texture to the swiss and I think would melt about the same. A gouda could also work well. :) I was thinking some smoked cheeses would be a nice accompaniment to the oniony flavor.

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