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Thursday, September 10, 2015

French Onion Soup inspired by Paris Time Capsule

French Onion Soup
I'm back today with another book tour, this time highlighting the novel originally released in May 2014 by Ella Carey—Paris Time Capsule. By now you probably know that my favorite types of books are those that allow me to get lost in them, to step out of my own head and into the world of the character. I particularly enjoy foodie novels or cozies, stories of travel, chick-lit (think chick-flick in book form), intriguing mysteries, or like this one, a combination of more than one of those genres.

Inspired by an actual apartment that was discovered untouched since the Nazi invasion of Paris, there's a bit of historical fiction in the pages of Paris Time Capsule. When Cat is called to Paris for the reading of a will of someone she never knew, life as she knows it changes. In her search to uncover the past, she learns not only more about the mysterious Isabelle de Florian but also about who she, herself, is and wants.

From Paris to the south of France, there's enough scenery and history in this book to warm any Francophile's heart. I also loved the descriptions of Cat's vintage clothing and style, the oh-which-of-the-two-hot-guys-that-love-me-do-I-choose angle, and the dreaminess of inheriting not only a beautiful old apartment in Paris, but also the prospective fortune that it contains aspect.

It's the perfect book to read on the plane, in a waiting room, at an outdoor cafe on a crisp, sunny day, or under the covers at night. I also want to mention that the whole time I was reading it, I was thinking what a great movie it would make...and I noticed only after I finished that it actually IS being made into a movie right now!
French Onion Soup
As far as food and go, there are really only a few mentions of it. Of course there was coffee and croissants, as well as wine, Champagne, jambon baguettes, bœuf bourguignon, and crème brûlée (would it be a French story without those things?). Also mentioned were caviar with tiny water crackers, porcini risotto, spit-roasted meat, green salads, plates of crisp roast lamb, baby potatoes roasted with rosemary and olive oil, and pears in red wine that "were like velvet, and the marscarpone alongside them was thick and sweet." p.95 Plus chow mein, herb and cheese omelets, and a crisp fish fillet with tiny honeyed carrots, spinach, potato gratin, hot chocolate, absinthe, pastis... well geeze, that actually sounds like a fair deal of things to make your tummy rumble, doesn't it?

The passage I drew inspiration from came fairly early in the book, shortly after Cat inherits her apartment. She takes a break from the dust and discovery to get something to eat by herself.

"By the time Cat returned to the apartment, having lunched on a bowl of French onion soup and a warm baguette..." p. 76

French Onion Soup
A rich brothy soup that is packed with caramelized onions then topped with a crouton and melted, bubbly cheese.
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French Onion Soup
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Keywords: soup/stew alcohol onions French

Ingredients (serves 6-8 / a scant 2 quarts)
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 4 pounds onions, peeled, trimmed, halved and sliced thinly crosswise on the halves
  • kosher or sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme sprigs + more to garnish
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups chicken or beef stock (or broth)
to serve:
  • a baguette or a loaf of crusty French bread
  •  gruyere or swiss cheese
Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat; add butter. Once butter has melted add the onion slices and sprinkle with a teaspoon or so of salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and let cook slowly until caramelized, stirring every once in a while, until sticky and caramelized, about 60-90 minutes.

Sprinkle with some freshly ground pepper, then add sherry and brandy and allow to bubble down until almost evaporated. Add the stock to the pot. Tie the parsley and thyme sprigs together with kitchen twine (for easy removal later), then add them to the pot, along with the bay leaf. Allow to simmer gently for 20 minutes. Remove and discard the herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Preheat the broiler. Cut a thick slice of bread for each bowl of soup. Toast the bread slices until golden. Cut a thin slice of cheese for each bowl of soup (you could also shred a small portion for each bowl).

Ladle the hot soup into separate bowls, then set one piece of toasted bread on top of each bowl; cover with a slice (or small shredded portion) of cheese. Carefully set bowl under the broiler for a couple of minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.
French Onion Soup
Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey

Paris Time Capsule

author: Ella Carey
series: I'm not sure if it will be a series or not, but on the book's facebook page, I saw a note that a sequel will be released in early 2016. (Yay!)

publisher: Lake Union Publishing
source: TLC Book Tours
soft cover: 274 pages
"foodie" read: Not really

random excerpt: "It was market day in Sarlat. The entire town was covered with stalls that wound around in front of its charming rustic buildings with their steep-pitched roofs and brown-shuttered windows. It was as if everyone in the entire town had put out a table. There were array of gorgeous food; a cheese van; fruit stalls bursting with bright oranges, tangerines, and lemons. An entire stall was devoted to walnuts, and several tables were laden with the Perigord's famous foi gras." p. 159

teaser: New York-based photographer Cat Jordan is ready to begin a new life with her successful, button-down boyfriend. But when she learns that she’s inherited the estate of a complete stranger—a woman named Isabelle do Florian—her life is turned upside down.

Cat arrives in Paris to find that she is now the owner of a perfectly preserved Belle Époque apartment in the ninth arrondissement, and that the Frenchwoman’s family knew nothing about this secret estate. Amid these strand developments, Cat is left with burning questions: What was Isabelle de Florian? And why did she leave the inheritance to Cat instead of her own family?

As Cat travels France in search of answers, she feels her grasp on her New York life starting to slip. With long-buried secrets coming to light and an attraction to Isabelle de Florian’s grandson growing too intense to ignore, Cat will have to decide what to let go of, and what to claim as her own.

about the author: Ella Carey is a writer and a Francophile who can almost claim Paris as her second home.

She has learned French since she was five and has degrees in music, majoring in classical piano, and in arts, majoring in modern European history and nineteenth-century literature.

Writing has always been Ella’s real passion, but she has worked in various other guises. As an emerging author, Ella has had her work published in The Review of Australian Fiction.

She has traveled to France more than a dozen times and drew on her many experiences there when writing Paris Time Capsule. Ella knew straight away that the fascinating true story of the abandoned apartment was a perfect fit for her, with its blend of history; impossible, decaying romance; and mystery–not to mention Paris.

Ella released Paris Time Capsule as an indie book in 2014, and it rose to number 10 on Amazon in the US. This revised and extended edition is now released with Lake Union Publishing. A feature film screenplay version of the book is in development.

author, Ella Carey
In her spare time, Ella walks her dogs along the beach, speaks her particular sort of Franglais whenever she can, reads, loves to visit art museums and collects every beautiful book on Paris that she can possibly find.

She is hard at work on her second novel, which is also set in Paris. Ella lives with her two children and two noble Italian greyhounds, which are constantly mistaken for whippets.

connect with the author: website | facebook | twitter

recipe inspired by the book: French Onion Soup


I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
French Onion Soup