Soupe à l’oignon – French onion soup

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Soupe à l'oignon - French onion soup
Soupe à l'oignon - French onion soup

French onion soup (soupe à l’oignon) is a type of soup usually based on meat stock and onions, and often served gratinéed with croutons and cheese on top or a large piece of bread. Although ancient in origin, the dish underwent a resurgence of popularity in the 1960s in the United States due to a greater interest in French cuisine. French onion soup is usually served as a starter.

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French cuisine
French cuisine

Overview

This is a traditional French soup made of onions and beef stock, usually served with croutons and melted cheese on top. The soup’s origins can be traced as far back as the Romans – typically a poor dish – although the current version dates from the 18th century. The remarkable taste in French onion soup is from the caramelisation of the onions, to which sometimes brandy or sherry is added at the end of the slow-cook process. The liquid is typically meat stock, although variations include using just water, adding milk or thickening it with eggs or flour.

For another popular French soup, try the traditional fishermen’s soupe de poisson à la rouille from Marseille, characterised by a dollap of garlic and saffron mayonnaise (rouille) on top.

Marseille
Marseille

History

Onion soups have been popular at least as far back as Roman times. Throughout history, they were seen as food for poor people, as onions were plentiful and easy to grow. The modern version of this soup originates in Paris, 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 with croutons and Comté melted on top. The crouton on top is reminiscent of ancient soups