Julia Child's French Onion Soup
The temperature in New Jersey this week finally dropped into fall. Mornings are chilly with foggy car windows while the afternoons warm with the echos of summer.
Heavy rain and overcast skies took over a few days this week, causing the bearable 60-degree weather to feel cold and raw.
It feels like a soup-day, I kept thinking, as I ate hearty pasta dishes and warmed sandwiches for lunch.
Inspired by Julia Child (after watching Julie & Julia last week), I decided that I was going to make soup this week: French onion!
The History of French Onion Soup
Like all great dishes, French onion soup is a recipe with poor origins. Onions were a plentiful, easily grown vegetable. The stock could be made using water (or meat if available).
As the recipe evolved (and became more upscale), liquor and thickenings like milk were added. According to my research, French onion soup is usually served at the start of a meal.
One article reports that French onion soup is also Paris’s go-to hangover food. Whether I believe that, I’m not too sure, but the French are swanky so I could image that this hearty soup would do the trick.
Julia Child & French Onion Soup
Of course, as a foodie I knew the name “Julia Child,” but it wasn’t until Julie & Julia that I realized how ahead of her time Julia Child was.
Not only did she make a career out of her passion for food (in a time, where only men were training to be professional chefs), but she brought French cuisine to the American kitchen in the 1960s.
She is too amazing. I am reading her letters at the moment so I hope to provide you further insights in the future (stay tuned!).
Since I don’t have an actual copy of her cookbook, I can’t give you any details into when she started learning / cooking French onion soup. But I can share this YouTube video of Julia Child actually teaching viewers how to cook it, on her show “The French Chef.” Check it out:
She has amazing tips and techniques! I wish I watched this video before I made my recipe.
The Julia Child French Onion Soup Recipe
Since I have never made this before and only had a vague idea of what went in French onion soup, I googled “Julia Child French Onion Soup Recipe.”
By happy chance, the google recipe is identical to the steps Julia Child goes over in her video.
I followed the same steps that Julia outlines above:
Soup is difficult to photograph, so my pictures don’t do this recipe justice.
While at first French onion soup seems like a complicated task, it’s actually pretty easy. The process is time consuming, especially when cooking the onions. As Julia says, a sharp knife and fresh onions means you’ll survive cutting 5 cups worth. My blue eyes usually burn like hell, but this time I was fine.
If you’re looking for a fast dinner soup, this wouldn’t be it. I don’t mind spending hours in the evening stirring soup. I wouldn’t recommend making this if you’re in a hurry. The longer it cooks the better the flavor.
I didn’t make my stock from scratch (though I will try it next time) — but I was still shocked at the flavor. This recipe is d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s. Exactly like the French onion soup I’ve had before. This is one of my favorite soups so I was glad that my first time making it turned out so well (thank you, Julia!).
I didn’t add the cognac to my recipe (because I didn’t have any on hand), but I’m sure that would’ve added to the final flavor.
I used grated Swiss cheese and then added an additional slice on top. I omitted the raw onion at the end (on my personal bowl), because I wasn’t sure if I would like that semi-cooked flavor.
Feel free to customize this recipe as you want. For instance, I cut my bread into tiny crouton cubes. I think it’s easier to have a bite of broth, onions, cheese, and bread with the cubed pieces.
The Final Product
As a savory home-cook this is, by far, one of my favorite recipes. I love how simple the ingredients are and how they blend to create a hearty and flavorful soup.
Here it is! K. Martinelli cooks Julia Child’s French Onion Soup
Thank you for watching!
Have you made any of Julia Child’s recipes? Do you love French onion soup? Tell me about it in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!