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gruyere cheese

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Hi Everyone,

I'm planning on making French onion soup this weekend. When checking upon recipes, they usually call for gruyere cheese. I have not had this type of cheese before, and I am not a big fan of strong flavoured cheese. So can anyone tell me more about this cheese, and what can I substitue with it? Thanks in advance.

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  1. Gruyere is a type of Swiss cheese. Personally, I'm not a fan of Swiss (tastes like stinky feet to me). My husband is, though, so I'll buy it for him and if I can, I'll use it for his portion and use another cheese or leave the cheese out of my portion.

    If you're doing baked French onion soup with the cheese melted on top, Swiss is going to probably be your best bet. If you aren't a fan of Swiss, I recently made French onion soup without doing the melted cheese and it was fantastic on its own.

    1. It's similar to Swiss cheese. If you do a search on gruyere, there was a similar topic last week with a lot of options....

      1. As mentioned, Gruyere is a type of Swiss Cheese named after the town of Gruyeres in Switzerland. It is strong in both flavor and price, so you can probably go with any other type of less expensive, less strong swiss as a viable option.

        I like swiss cheese, and I think Gruyere is delicious, but out of my budget most of the time, so I go with an Irish swiss or Emmental.

        1. Gruyere is my favorite cheese. It's not strong, and has a sort of nutty taste. It's a fantastic match with the onion soup. Gruyere has several price points, depending mostly on the length of aging (and the quality of manufacture). Young gruyeres can be relatively inexpensive.

          Compte is a similar cheese made in France (it can only be called "gruyere" if it's made in Switzerland). Sometimes that's cheaper.

          I can't imagine onion soup without gruyere, frankly. But if I absolutely couldn't find it, I'd use Jarlsberg or Emmenthaler.

          1 Reply
          1. re: C. Hamster

            >>it can only be called "gruyere" if it's made in Switzerland<<

            According to the Wikipedia article on Gruyère, that's been true since 2001, when the EU granted Swiss Gruyère AOC status. And, interestingly, the *Encyclopédie des fromages*, which limits itself to French cheeses, doesn't have an entry for Gruyère. That being said, I still see French "Gruyère" at various local cheesemongers. Old traditions die hard?

          2. Gruyère-type cheeses are made in northwestern Switzerland and the adjacent parts of France. Usually a pale golden-tawny colour, Gruyère is firm and smooth and doesn't have "holes" like Emmental, which is what most people imagine when they think of Swiss cheese. The flavour is not particularly strong and is usually described as buttery, nutty and salty. As with many other firm cheeses, aging makes the flavour sharper and more complex. It melts beautifully and combines well with other flavours, which is why it's often called for in gratin, quiche, fondue and soup recipes. Comté and Beaufort make good substitutes.

            1. Gruyere is the best cheese in the world, and I say that as someone who has never met a (real) cheese that she didn't like. Slightly nutty, buttery, as described by several others.

              Strong? Certainly not as compared to Limberger or Stilton or anything else worth eating.

              But if I was going to substitute due to either price or wanting something milder, I guess Emmenthaler or American Swiss (okay, Am Swiss is not a real substitute, but then I wouldn't be substituting, I'd just buy a smaller piece of Gruyere).

              Sadly, French onion soup is one of about three dishes I just have never been able to like, so I can't comment on how the cheese will go with it. Go figure.

              1. And another thought-- if you go to a decent cheese store, they will give you a free taste. So try the Gruyere, the Emmenthaler, find out first hand (mouth?) what you like.

                1. I like to use a combination of gruyere and fontina, which is a bit milder.

                  1. Gruyere is a mild, semi hard cheese with a nutty flavor. The only substitute I know of is Swiss Emmenthal or French Gruyere which is just as good, and usually less expensive.

                    1. Like MMRuth says above, a combo of gruyere and fontina works. In fact I was eating a bowl of onion soup at Abe & Louis' in Boston and I called the waiter over and told him that the cheese was not gruyere but tasted more like fontina. he told me they used a combo. It was creamy but i like the flavor of 100% gruyere better.

                      I agree that you can take a taste at the store but i think gruyere mellows a little when melted and especially when matched with a bold onion soup.

                      1. Gruyere is wonderful. It's my first real swiss cheese and I love it in quiche, omelets, gratins. I only had am swiss before, which tastes awful and smells funny. Gruyere is way superior, and it's not strong at all.
                        However, if you sample gruyere, keep in mind that once it's heated it tastes different - the buttery undertone comes out more, I think.
                        Give it a chance. I agree it's pricy, but I just go buy the smallest size I can find.

                        1. I like Gruyere, and I hate strong cheeses, but as it's swiss, you could use Jarlsberg as well, and I find that to be a bit milder.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Emme

                            Besides the not-quite-right flavour, the problem with Swiss (i.e. Emmental), and especially Jarlsberg, is that it becomes stringy and rubbery when melted. Not always fun when you're already dealing with a spoonful of scalding hot soup.

                            1. re: carswell

                              Yes, that's very true. Jarlsberg and Emmenthal get rubbery. Gruyere less so. But flavor-wise, they are a better match, IMO than many other cheeses.

                              I have seen places that serve FOsoup topped with mozarella, which to me is yuck, but is REALLY stringy and rubbery.

                          2. Thanks everyone for your help! I'll go to a cheese store and ask them for a sample first. Will report after weekend's dinner.