French Onion Soup – Like it used to be – Famous-Barr


It used to be that people would go to standalone department stores to shop.  Call them the old downtown department stores, if you will.  Some of these most likely still exist in some of the larger cities.  After hours of walking around in these cavernous multi-floor stores, people naturally became hungry.  It was the custom that most stores had some sort of cafeteria available where people could stop their empty stomach from talking back, rest their weary feet and most likely, to the store owner’s delight, keep them in the store.  In each cafeteria, no matter how average all the other food was, there was usually one specialty that became a must for every shopping trip.  This recipe is one of the musts served at the old mid-west Famous-Barr department stores.

The suburban malls and food courts have replaced most of the old department stores.  One could argue that the food court has replaced the old cafeteria and thus, the world hasn’t changed much.  But with standardized, commoditized, averagized (this doesn’t appear to be a real word, but should be)  menus and portions, one is unlikely to find a place to purchase French Onion Soup .  Even if we could find it now, coming out of 5 gallon plastic bags, the soup probably just wouldn’t be the same.

1.5 pounds onions

3 ounces butter

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon paprika

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1.5 quarts beef broth, canned (if you make your own beef stock, you won’t need me to tell you to use it here)

Swiss or Gruyere cheese, about 1.5 ounces per serving (optional)

toasted French bread or croutons (optional)

Slice onions in half, then into thin 1/8 inch slices.  Saute onions in butter over lower heat (okay, we may have a potential oxymoron here in “saute over lower heat”, but I never claimed to be a professional – in honor, I refer you to anything George Carlin)  in a 3 quart pot, 20 minutes or longer until they’re about dissolved.  Add paprika, pepper, bay leaf and flour; stirring into the onions for about 5 minutes.  Add beef broth slowly while stirring the soup.  Bring back to a covered simmer for at least 20 minutes.  To serve:  pour into individual bowls, top with the bread or croutons, lay cheese on top of bread,  melt cheese under broiler or in the microwave.

Here’s a gadget to help slice those onions and other things.  Not required, but some may find it useful.  This is a smaller handier version of the larger food processor.  Worked well for me and delivered a finer chop which may have helped dissolve the onions faster than if I had sliced them with a knife.

Oster 3320 150-Watt 3-Cup Food Chopper with Whisk Attachment


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One Response to “French Onion Soup – Like it used to be – Famous-Barr”

  1. steveo Says:

    Since at this point in time I’m the only person reading my stuff, I feel compelled to write a comment about the Oster 150-Watt 3-Cup Food Chopper listed in this article. When I found this on Amazon there were no reviews of the product. Since that time, several people reviewed the product and a basic flaw seems evident. The chopper cannot hold it’s rated 3 cups of a liquid. About half will leak out the blade shaft opening onto the motor housing. Chopping solids may not present the same problem. Given this kind of information, the product may not meet your needs. Read the reviews and decide for yourself.


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