French Onion Soup for the New Year

There probably isn’t a more signature recipe representing the special flavors of the French cuisine than the allure of French Onion Soup. My husband and I have had a classic recipe to cook this delicious soup, ever since my brother in law, William L’Heureux, gave us his version, as adapted from the Julia Child cookbook.

Over the Holidays, a high school friend sent me nearly the same recipe, with a few of her delightful recommended adaptations included. So, we decided to bring in the “old” and start the New Year with French Onion Soup.

A quick literature search found information bout how onion soups have been popular since as far back in history as the Roman times. Modern tastes consider the soup to be an entree on French restaurant menus. Yet, the soup was, at one time, believed to be food for poor people, because onions were plentiful and easy to grow. The modern version of the recipes originates in Paris, France in the 18th century, made from beef broth, and caramelized onions.

Our memory of the family’s heirloom recipe, given from my brother in law, was rekindled over the Holidays when Barbe Hetrick, a high school friend and childhood neighbor in Baltimore (Dundalk), sent out the recipe, with her personal recommendations for adaptations, written in beautiful cursive on the recipe card.

My husband and I have prepared this recipe in the past. We decided to start our New Year off with this delicious preparation. Indeed, the outcome exceeded our expectations. (Merci Barbe!)

This recipe was easier when prepared with two of us contributing to the process. In my opinion, there’s almost no room for error when it comes to caramelizing the onions. Lots of stirring is required. Otherwise, the directions are pictured in this photographic essay, taken in the L’Heureux Cuisine, on the first day of 2019, on New Year’s Day. Hopefully, French Onion Soup will be our culinary symbol for a healthy and happy New Year, and for everyone.

 A nearly similar recipe is also posted here:

Bien sûr, nous commençons par les oignons. (Mais oui!)

Start with plenty of onions.

We halved the recipe that called for 8 cups of sliced onions. We sliced 10 medium sized onions in a food processor. This is the most efficient way of preparing so many onions, because they will slice uniformly with the electric blades. The uniform sized onion slices allows consistency of cooking during the caramelizing stage. We washed our food processor for this purpose because, frankly, it had not been used in many years! (Yes, it still worked perfectly for slicing onions!)

We ended up with 5 cups of sliced onion after slicing them in the food processor. We looked forward to our New Year’s Day brunch at home.

And the rest of the recipe is posted here in my home photo essay:

French Onion Soup recipe

French Onion Soup recipe from friend Barbe is nearly identical to the hand written version given to us many years ago by my brother-in-law William L’Heureux.

Onions for French Onion Soup

About 10 medium sized onions put thru the slicing blade of a food processor.

Caramelizing onions.

Caramelizing the onions requires paying strict attention to the stirring, enough to bring out the walnut coloring but without burning.


Adding the cognac. We had just enough as required in half a recipe. In fact, we drained the bottle (Happy New Year!)

French Onion Soup taste test.

French Onion Soup taste test with sliced cheese and a baguette on the side.

Traditional presentation of French Onion Soup

Traditional presentation of French Onion Soup after baking with a baguette covered in cheese. Bake in the oven at 375 for about 10-15 minutes. Any favorite cheese will do fine, but the popular one to use is Mozzerella or Parmesan. Barbe’s recipe called for Gyuere. We did not place ours under the broiler because the cheese melted just fine in the hot oven.

In fact, French Onion Soup can be served with or without cheese. Nevertheless, the most popular presentation is when the soup is served with cheese melted over croutons or a baguette.  We used a piece of baguette.

Certainly, bringing in the new for us began by living the beautiful lyrics of “auld lang syne”, and a heritage culinary tradition. Like the poet Robert Burns reminded us, with his lyrics, meaning “old long since”, Burns called tribute to “days gone by”.

The familiar poem also gets people singing, “lets drink to days gone by” or, as Julia Child would say, “Bon appetit!”. Bonne année!

Juliana L'Heureux

About Juliana L'Heureux

Juliana L’Heureux is a free lance writer who publishes news, blogs and articles about Franco-Americans and the French culture. She has written about the culture in weekly and bi-weekly articles, for the past 27 years.