French onion soup

French onion soup
Bowl of French onion soup
Alternative names Onion soup
Course Starter (entrée)
Place of origin France
Region or state All
Created by Multiple claims
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredients Onions, beef or chicken stock, croutons, grated cheese
Variations Vegan versions
Cookbook: French onion soup  Media: French onion soup

French onion soup (French: soupe à l’oignon [sup a lɔɲɔ̃]) 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.[1]


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,[1][2] 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 (see history of soup).


Recipes for onion soup vary greatly:

Though the liquid is usually meat stock, it may be simply water. Milk may be added. It may be thickened with eggs or flour. It may be gratinéed or not.[3][4]

Generally, recipes specify that the onions should be cooked slowly, becoming caramelized. Brandy or sherry is added at the end. The soup base is often topped with a slice of bread (a "croute" or "crouton").

For the gratinéed version, the croute is topped with cheese and broiled or baked. The soup is then immediately served in the bowl or ramekin in which it was broiled (or, in the United Kingdom, grilled), baked, or—in family-style—immediately transferred to individual serving bowls via a ladle.

Alternative names

Some alternative names for the soup include:[2][5]

  • Soupe à l'oignon à la Parisienne
  • Gratinée Parisienne
  • Gratinée des Halles
  • Gratinée Lyonnaise
  • Soupe à l'oignon Lyonnaise
  • Soupe à l'oignon Gratinée

See also


  1. 1 2 French onion soup. The Food Timeline
  2. 1 2 Frétillet, Jean-Paul (23 January 2015). "Dégustation : la soupe à l'oignon, bonne à en pleurer!". Le Parisien (in French). Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  3. Robert Courtine, Derek Coltman, trans. (1973) The Hundred Glories of French Cooking. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 18. ISBN 0374173575
  4. Marie Ébrard (1927) La bonne cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange, Editions Chaix. p. 186.
  5. Newman, Bryan G. (10 October 2014). "Soupe à l'Oignon - French Onion Soup. Ordering the Most Famous of all French Soups and the Difference Between Parisian and Lyonnais Onion Soups". Behind the French Menu. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
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