October 18, 2022

The History of French Onion Soup

An important aspect of the history of French onion soup is knowing how popular onions are and why. Consider this about onions – they’re readily available, versatile, and easy on your wallet. They may not be gorgeous to look at, but they do have their own unique flavor. 

Despite having such great characteristics, the onion doesn’t have a grand reputation as a food everyone wants to eat. In fact, it’s most famous for making people cry!

But one spoonful of French onion soup, and everything changes! This is one delicacy that allows the unassuming onion to enjoy its moment of fame (especially in the winter). 

The evergreen French onion soup is a delicious dish and a favorite among people all over the world. It is made with caramelized onions and beef stock, topped with grated and grilled Comté cheese, and best enjoyed with toasted bread. 

If you’re looking to know about who invented French onion soup, where French onion soup originated, and even why it’s called French onion soup, you’ve come to the right place. 

Why Is It Called French Onion Soup?

The classic French onion soup gets its name from its country of origin: France. After making its debut in the 18th century, it has become a national treasure.

During ancient times (and still today), onions were cheap and easy to grow, and hence, readily available. For the poor, the onion was a savior, with onion soups being popular during the Roman times. 

In fact, a version of the recipe first appeared in Taillevent’s 14th-century cookbook, Viandier. It described thinly-sliced onions cooked in butter and then topped with a pea puree and water or verjus (liquid derived from pressed unripe green grapes that grow in vineyards before being used to make wine).

Later, it was also discovered that the soup masked the smell of alcohol from drinking the night before, thanks to the use of Comté or Gruyère cheeses, which have a strong aroma. French households would use the soup as a hangover cure as well. 

Where is French Onion Soup From?

If you’re wondering where French onion soup originated, you should know that the roots of this classic dish lie in the broths of ancient Rome. While it was first prepared over 8,000 years ago, it was only in the 18th century that it was served in restaurants across Paris. Then it continued to be served in the kitchens of connoisseurs of French cuisine everywhere.

Of course, variations of onion soups have existed throughout Europe since the ancient Roman and Greek eras. Thanks to their abundant availability in medieval times, large amounts of onions would be used to make soup by cooking them in water. 

At the time, the modest onion was also thought to have restorative properties, making it the go-to ingredient for making broths. 

For several centuries, the onion soup was regarded as the poor man’s food, until one night in France during the 18th century, which forever changed its reputation. 

The Two Theories about Its Origin

Now that you know why it is called French onion soup, let’s gain some clarity about its history. Here, we’ll also address another question: Who invented French onion soup? To find our answers, let’s dive a little deeper into the classic soup’s origin.

According to one theory about the history of French onion soup, the invention goes back to the 17th century. It is said that it was invented by none other than King Louis XV late one night at his hunting lodge when he was very hungry. When he only found onions, butter, and champagne in the pantry, he decided to use the three ingredients to make the French onion soup for the very first time.

Another theory says that it was Stanislas Leszczynski, Duke of Lorraine and father of the Queen of France, who tasted the onion soup in a Champagne inn. He thought it was not only delicious but also filling. He then decided to learn to prepare a similar soup. He went on to popularize the recipe at the Palace of Versailles.

Enjoy a Warm Bowl of Your Favorite French Onion Soup at Cork!

By now, you’ve probably learned all there is to know about where French onion soup comes from. Now, how about trying it?

The soup we serve is rich and sweet, that’s balanced with just the right amount of acidity. Our chefs know how to transform the humble onion into nothing short of a hero to make magnificent preparation. 

Visit Cork Bar & Restaurant to enjoy this delicacy and more. Reserve your table online or call 570-270-3818 for more information.