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French Onion Soup

Here's that famous, luscious French onion soup recipe covered with gratin that your guests will go wild about. This French Onion soup recipe will provide about 24 servings.

Here's a bit of French onion soup history  by Lynne Olver, editor of The Food Timeline 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 Cuilnaire [1903]. Onion soup enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the 1960s, when French cooking was promoted in the United States.

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. Curiously? Early peoples thought eating raw onions caused headaches.


  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 5 lb onion
  • 6 qt beef stock
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 6 oz dry sherry
  • 24 slices French bread
  • 1 lb Gruyere cheese


Heat the butter in a stockpot over a moderate flame, add the onions and cook until golden or brown as desired. 

Add the stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at least 20 minutes

Season to taste with salt and pepper and sherry if used. 

Ladle soup into individual bowls or gratin dishes. Top each with a slice of bread. Cover with grated cheese. Brown under the broiler. Serve very hot.

Variation: toast the bread under the broiler, top with cheese, pass under the broiler to melt the cheese, and place on top of serving of soup

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