On spring days, there’s still a chill in the air of an evening, which makes the prospect of coming home to a steaming bowl of French onion soup all the more appealing. Apparently, though, the soup was actually originally created to be eaten early of a morning.
In an effort to keep warm, traders at Paris’ wholesale meat and produce market Les Halles would order it at many of the restaurants in the neighbourhood.
The soup’s gone on to become a classic of French cuisine – known way beyond the confines of Paris and its market stall holders.
I make mine using what I consider to be a pretty traditional recipe. It’s one that I found in the terrific book Essentials of French Cooking, and it says it’s in a Parisian style.
Almost every region of France has its own version of the dish. In his book The French Kitchen, Michel Roux Jr offers a Lyonnaise take on the soup. In addition to the ingredients you might ordinarily expect, his version includes egg yolks, port and crème fraîche.
It sounds very different to the version served at Les Halles before the market was pulled down and replaced with a retail monstrosity. Mind you, the shopping centre is one of my secret pleasures too.