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