Julia’s French Onion Soup

Every time I make her recipe for French Onion Soup, I kind of feel like I’m hanging out Julia, somewhere outside Boston or in the South of France. There will be wine later, probably some pastries too, but first there’s this soup. This perfect soup. I used to think that I didn’t like French Onion Soup but the first time I read Julia’s recipe I was emboldened by the discovery that the floating croutons and baked on shield of cheese that we have served to us in restaurants is not, in fact, part of the original recipe. There is a variation in Mastering the Art of French Cooking that calls for those things, but the original recipe calls for the soup to be unadorned, a simple, deep, perfect brew.

In case you can’t tell already, I am wildly enthusiastic about this soup. This kind of rustic, elegant meal is my favourite way to eat.

What you’ll need:

5 cups of thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of sugar
3 tablespoons of flour
4 cups of low sodium organic beef stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste


1.  Cook the onions slowly with the butter and olive oil in a heavy bottomed, covered saucepan for 15 minutes.

2.  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.  Sprinkle in the flour and stir for 3 minutes.

4.  Off the heat, blend in the stock.  Add the wine, and season to taste.  (Note – I added a bay leaf here, mostly out of habit, but why not?) Simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes or more, skimming occasionally.  Correct seasoning.

5.  Set aside uncovered until ready to serve.  Then reheat to the simmer.

6.  I like to serve this with a fresh baguette on the side and a selection of cheeses (Beemster for me, Brie for him), some fresh fruit and a nice red wine.

If I can take the time, this kind of slow, methodical cooking is incredibly soothing and my favourite way to spend time in the kitchen (alone or with Julia).   

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