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soupe à l’oignon

onion soup

French onion soup

Ask someone to name a French soup, and you’re likely to get soupe à l’oignon for an answer. Gratinée Parisienne and gratinée des Halles are other names for it.

This Parisian classic first became popular in the 18th century. The beaneries around the old Halles of Paris would serve it throughout the night, for late night revellers, who would stop for a bowl before heading home to keep their hangovers from being too painful, and for early risers bringing in the day’s food to the great wholesale market.

Halles de Paris vers 1900. Photographie de Ludovic-Georges Hamon, dit Hamon-Trémeur (1875-1942)

Now that the wholesale market has moved out to Rungis, it just ain’t the same.

The classic recipe calls for caramelizing the onions before deglazing with white wine or brandy and adding beef broth and simmering. The soup should be ladled into bowls with a toasted baguette slice, covered with grated Comté cheese, then chucked under the grill until brown and bubbly.

Classic dishes

Paris and the Île de France

Soups, stews and casseroles

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Jeremy Keith, Ludovic-Georges Hamon dit Hamon-Trémeur