French Onion Soup [Soupe À L’Oignon] - The F-Word (Food) Blog at - 259077

The F-Word (Food)

French Onion Soup [Soupe à l’Oignon] 
Dec. 1, 2011 11:20 am 
Updated: Jan. 3, 2012 2:12 pm

French Onion Soup [Soupe à l’Oignon]

Yesterday Stevie Crazycook Posted a Blog about His Adventure in French Onion Soup, and I was actually thinking about making some French Onion Soup. I believe Stevie Crazycook recipe is like the one that is listed at Betty Crocker’s website.

4 medium onions
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cans (10.5 oz each) condensed beef broth
1 1/2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 dried bay leaf
4 oz Gruyère, Swiss or mozzarella cheese
4 slices (3/4 to 1 inch thick) French bread
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

I confess I am an Onion lover; I would put a whole onion in one tuna fish sandwich. My wife Sue is a bit more reserved than I.

My first stop was Wikipedia to learn more about the soup<

“Onion soups have been popular at least as far back as Roman times. They were, throughout history, seen as food for poor people, as onions were plentiful and easy to grow. The modern version of this soup originates in France in the 18th century, made from beef broth, and caramelized onions. It is often finished by being placed under a grill in a ramekin traditionally with croutons and gruyère melted on top. The crouton on top is reminiscent of ancient soups”

Second Stop Was At<

“Onions and onion soup were enjoyed by ancient Roman and Greek peoples. French onion soup (with the bread and cheese topping) is reminiscent of medieval sops. The recipe we know today is a direct descendant of modern French bouillon crafted in the 17th century. Onion soups are likewise found in early English cookbooks and American cookbooks from colonial days to present. Curiously, it is absent from Escoffier's Guide Culinaire [1903]. Onion soup enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the 1960s, when French cooking was promoted.”


Onions were common in the old world and were used in many recipes: boiled, baked, and fried. For many centuries they were considered food of the poorer people. Onions were also thought to have restorative powers, making them a perfect choice for soup. It is interesting to note that early peoples thought eating raw onions caused headaches.

There are a few versions of Onion Soup Dating back to [1651: ], [1803: ], [1869: ], [1913:], [1941:], [1972:] At the link above.

I never cooked French Onion Soup using recipes I just put in what ever feels good. So I looked at over 100 French Onion Soup Recipes and spent about 4 hours doing it. The recipes varied, and others to a greater degree. I had to laugh when I seen one of the recipes that used campbell's Condensed Onion soup.


Some Use Chicken Stock, Beef Stock or A Mixture of the Two (beef was most constant). If you are vegan there are also versions using vegetable stock. I saw two versions that used Veal stock. Many of them called for canned broth\stock\consume. In the Julia Child’s Video she states “If your going to use canned consume you might as well have just used canned French Onion Soup”. If you make your own stock you will need the standard carrots, onions, and celery. One other broth I found on a very old French recipe was the use of “pease broth” I have no Idea what it is. One of the other Ingredients could be unflavored gelatin if you’re just using broth; gelatin gives the stock a silky texture. Since this is a very old Recipe we can assume that back in the day stock was made from boiling down joints and bones and gelatin would be in the stock.


Many recipes just said onions, or yellow onions but I also found these onions listed, Vidalia Onions, Red Onions, Walla Walla Onions, Shallots, Scallion Bulbs, Chives


The most common spices were Sugar, salt, pepper. I found some with garlic, and a few with paprika.


What I found most common was, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, Parsley, The other herb I seen was Turkish bay leaves. I have never had Turkish bay leaves, but what I wonder is why the French would be using “Turkish bay leaves” I think some one just made that one up.


If you look at the French recipes [1651: France], [1869: France] they use only butter, but I also found the use of  Butter (many), Olive Oil(some), Margarine (about 2), vegetable oil (1)


To tell you the truth some of these cheeses I have never heard of them, and I would gather some of them are not French cheeses.

Fontina or Gruyère, Swiss Gruyère, Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese, Comte, or Emmental, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago, Mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, Muenster or Morbier, raclette, vacherin mont d’or, Provolone, Cheddar, Havarti, trifled pecorino, Jarisberg, vegan cheese, Emmanthaler


Here are some of the Alcohols I found that were used, white wine, sherry, red wine, Cognac or brandy, Vermouth, Calvados, Applejack, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, Port wine

Worcestershire sauce:

I did see maybe 10 versions that used Worcestershire sauce

Other Ingredients:

Here are some of the Odd Ingredients Vinegar was used in the French recipe dated 1651, also I found the following Apple cider, Apple Juice, Balsamic, Tabasco, Lemon Juice, porcini mushrooms, Dijon mustard, tomatillos, avocado, Hatch green Chile, whole milk, soy sauce, Truffle, Kitchen Bouquet, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, wonton wrappers (For Dumplings), juniper berries, capers (French recipe dated 1651), tomatoes


My thinking is if you’re making French onion soup you must use French bread. Here is a list of breads in the recipes French, Baguette, Ciabatta, Crotons, Multigrain, Country Bread, sourdough

Thickening Agents:

Julia Child’s in the video below uses flour, Tyler Florence uses flour, Alton Brown does not. Bobby Flay’s version uses flour. There was also one version that used corn starch for gluten free version.

Julia Child:

The French Chef with Julia Child Season 5, Ep. 1 "The French Chef: Your Own French Onion Soup. 1 January 1965<


So what does all this prove?

Nothing really I just wasted my day away.

PS. I Am Making Onion Soup For Dinner, Now You Know What I Go Through When Researching Some Recipes.

This is how I made it<

I used a mandoline to cut the onions very thin.
French Onion Soup [Soupe à l’Oignon]
Photo Detail
French Onion Soup [Soupe à l’Oignon]
Photo Detail
French Onion Soup [Soupe à l’Oignon]
Photo Detail
Dec. 1, 2011 11:53 am
That was one interesting blog! Thank you so much for the read... kinda makes me want to research what I'm having for supper... Meatloaf! Kinda fun idea... enjoy your soup!
Dec. 1, 2011 11:58 am
I actually have researched Meatloaf, look up "Polpettone" it is an Italian version of meatloaf
Dec. 1, 2011 1:43 pm
Wow, great tutorial. I hope you let us in on which methods and ingredients you used and how it came out. I will be looking for it.
Dec. 1, 2011 2:50 pm
I Never Made French Onion Soup For Sue, But She Loved It.
Dec. 1, 2011 5:54 pm
Wow.... I want some... great pics! I can almost taste it! You go King!!!!
Dec. 1, 2011 6:00 pm
I feel so educated. Seriously, I love onion soup and your photo has made me crazy to make some. Having all ingredients on hand is another push in that direction. Loved the blog. Any blog that makes your mouth water...yep, that's what it's all about!! Good read. ;)
Dec. 1, 2011 6:55 pm
Southern Gma.... I added you to cooks I like! Read your blogs... where have you been? You need to get back on that blog! Just say'in... From one southern gramma to another!
Dec. 1, 2011 7:11 pm
good grief it looks awesome, great job king!
Dec. 2, 2011 5:17 am
King-beautiful presentation on the onion soup!
Dec. 2, 2011 6:49 am
Great photos of the soup- looks delicious!
Dec. 2, 2011 1:15 pm
I loved reading this. Thanks. I plan on making some this week. My family won't eat it but I make a big pot and eat it for lunch all week.
Dec. 2, 2011 10:43 pm
Uh SKing, am I too old to be adopted? LOL. My favorite soup in the whole universe! My DD and I are the only ones who like it and I usually end up buying it at Trader Joes. I will try your tho and maybe freeze it. Thanks for sharing:)
Dec. 2, 2011 10:50 pm
So how did you like it? Was it the best you ever had or just ok. Would you waste another day to make it again?
Dec. 3, 2011 7:12 am
It was great, best I ever had, And only spent an hour+ making it.
Jan. 2, 2012 7:06 am
Love love love French Onion Soup. Thanks for all the research you did King, it was an interesting read. Now I need to go buy some more onions.
Jan. 3, 2012 2:12 pm
I love love love French onion soup too! What an interesting and enjoyable read! Thanks for all the info! Glad to know I'm not the only one who gets hung up on recipes trying to concoct the perfect creation!
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