Julia Child’s Onion Soup

I never realized quite how wonderful carmelized onions are until I made this.  I could have eaten all 5 onions by themselves, no soup at all, after they had cooked down for forty minutes into a browned, buttery mass which was just sooo good.  I mean, I did have to have at least a few.

Julia Child is a wonderful cook and no matter what anyone else thinks, I will always love her recipes.  This soup has very few ingredients and is still divine.  It’s all technique and cooking times with her. 

Now it did snow today, but not as much as I had hoped.  I fear its rapid departure.  I am also reading at this moment “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”, or, as it is really called “Notre-Dame De Paris.”  Actually, I have been reading it for about two months now.  I am only on page 309.  It is one of my favorite books thus far, yet I never can seem to focus on it for longer than a couple of hours.  And these little sessions of a few hours are few and far between with everything else going on.  And sometimes, I would just rather read my brother’s books, him being in 5th grade, for their simple plot and dialogue.  You can skim them, and their plot is just fulfilling enough that you continue to read them night after night even if you kinda guessed the ending from page three.


Well, I came back to Notre-Dame de Paris today because I was making the soup and was in the mood for all things French.  Thus today has been quite fulfilling, all holed up here with the snow and my French soup and books.  I am enjoying my few moments of faux winter.

Onion Soup (Soupe a L’Oignon)
Mastering the Art of French Cooking-Volume 1

The onions for an onion soup need a long, slow cooking in butter and oil, than a long, slow simmering in stock for them to develop the deep, rich flavor which characterizes a perfect brew.  You should therefore count on 2 1/2 hours at least from start to finish.  Though the preliminary cooking in butter requires some watching, the actual simmering can proceed almost unattended.

For 6 to 8 Servings

1 1/2 lbs. or about 5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions                

3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
A heavy bottomed, 4-quart saucepan

Cook the onions slowly with the butter and oil in the covered saucepan for 15 minutes.

1 tsp. salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar (helps the onions to brown)

Uncover, raise heat to moderate, and stir in the salt and sugar.  Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions have turned an even, deep, golden brown.

3 Tb flour (I used King Arthur Gluten-Free flour mix)

Sprinkle in flour and stir 3 minutes.

2 quarts boiling brown stock, canned beef bouillon, or 1 quart of boiling water and 1 quart of stock or bouillon(I used the last combination, but with vegetable broth)
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
Salt and pepper to taste

Off heat, blend in the boiling liquid.  Add the wine and season to taste.  Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes or more, skimming occaisionally.  Correct seasoning.  (*)  Set aside uncovered until ready to serve and then reheat to a simmer.

3 Tb cognac
Rounds of hard-toasted French bread (see recipe following)
1 to 2 cups grated swiss or parmesan cheese

Just before serving, stir in the cognac.  Pour into a soup tureen or soup cups over the rounds of bread and pass the cheese separately.

Garnishings for Onion Soup
Croutes-hard-toasted French bread

12 to 16 slices French bread cut 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick

Place the bread in one layer in a roasting pan and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for about 1/2 an hour, until it is thoroughly dried out and lightly browned.

Olive oil or beef drippings (I never quite got on the bandwagon with the beef dripping thing-I would advise you take the same route)
A cut clove of garlic

Halfway through baking, each side may be basted with a teaspoon of olive oil or beef dripping; and after baking, each piece may be rubbed with cut garlic.

Croute au Fromage-cheese croutes

Grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese
Olive oil or beef drippings

Spread one side of each croute with grated cheese and sprinkle with drops of olive oil or beef drippings.  Brown under a hot broiler before serving.

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About Madeleine C.

Hi I'm Madeleine and I am an avid cook and baker! Between school, homework swimming, and everything else in my life, I really enjoy cooking! I am 15 (now 16) years old, and have two brothers, both of whom have celiac disease along with my father. For this reason, I often make gluten-free things that will satisfy them as well as those who can readily consume gluten. I enjoy making the complex and the simple, and enjoy a challenge while cooking. That's just about it!