Traders’ tradition: soupe à l’oignon

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.

This entry was published on Tue, 25 Mar 2014 at 07:51. It’s filed under Food and wine and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Traders’ tradition: soupe à l’oignon

  1. Thanks for bringing back a pleasant memory: 1969, my first time in Paris, on my own and on $5 a day. Found a small restaurant near St Germain des Pres, down below street level. Ordered soupe à l’oignon and steak au poivre with pommes frites. Incredible meal in both complexity and simplicity of flavors and seasoning. Now, having been vegetarian for 35 years, I make my onion soup per a fine French recipe, substituting a flavorful veg broth. Never fails to bring back that memory!


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