Parisian onion soup: history and recipe

The simple onion soup was loved by both aristocrats and commoners. Today, there are many recipes for its preparation. French King Louis XV and Polish King Stanisław Leszczyński were among their admirers.

Legend has it that once Louis XV, who was fond of cooking, hungry, prepared this soup for himself. And the recipe that Dumas attributed to Stanislav Leshchinsky, he allegedly borrowed from an innkeeper in the town of Chalon-en-Champagne. Although onion soup was also prepared in royal kitchens, it was most often eaten in taverns and markets.

Today, the best French chefs pay no less attention to the first course than to the main one. After all, they are well aware that the first dish can be in itself nutritious and satisfying and at the same time serve as an appetizing prelude to what will follow it.

Many Parisians prefer soup for the first time, for example, a light soup-puree of artichokes or a thick soup of potatoes and leeks. But there is no more Parisian dish than rich soup a l’oignon gratinee – and onion soup with a melted cheese crust crowning it.

Onion soup

Soupe a l’oignon

This windy soup absorbs all the flavors of Paris. It gained its fame during the heyday of Le Halle, the city’s huge food market, with Parisian revelers holding their hand in the middle of the night and being served in all the taverns around the market. And even today you can come to the former market quarter and order a portion of cheese-crusted soup in the respectable restaurant Au Pied de Cochon (“O Pied de Cochon”) (1st arrondissement), which continues to regale Midnighters even when almost the whole city is asleep.

洋蔥湯 - onion soup 個照片及圖片檔

Onion Soup Recipe

Ingredients for 6 servings:

1.25 kg onions45 g butter1 tablespoon rapeseed oil

A pinch of sugar

Salt and freshly ground pepper – to taste500 ml of light red or dry white wine2 l of beef broth1 bay leaf6 thick (about 4 cm) slices of country bread375 g grated Conte or gruyère cheese

Preparation steps:

  1. Using a vegetable slicer or just a sharp knife, cut the bulbs into thin ringlets. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan with a thick bottom, melt butter over medium heat, add vegetable oil. Pour the chopped onion into the pot, adding sugar, salt and pepper, cover and saute, stirring, for about 25-30 minutes, until the onion is soft, golden and slightly caramelized.
  3. Add the wine, increase the heat to the maximum and cook for 8-10 minutes until the liquid has evaporated about half. Pour in the broth, add the bay leaf, reduce the heat to medium and cook, without covering, for about 45 minutes, until the soup darkens and acquires a characteristic onion aroma. If the liquid evaporates too quickly, add some water, cover the pan with a lid and continue to cook over medium heat.
  4. Immediately before serving, preheat the oven to 200 ° C. Spread pieces of bread on a baking baking board and fry until golden brown appears – 3-5 minutes on each side. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside. Remove the bay leaf from the soup and throw it away.
  5. Pour the hot soup into heat-resistant pots placed on a baking baking plate. Put toast on each of them and sprinkle evenly with grated cheese. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese melts and the edges of the toast turn light brown.
  6. Remove the pots from the oven and serve immediately.

From the book: Marlena Spiller. Culinary capitals of the world. Paris. M.: Vokrug Sveta, 2011.

The material was first published in October 2016

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