The Origin of Onion Soup


A dish of French origin. Its consumption began in 1135 during the reign of Phillipe-Auguste, who founded Les Halles, the largest food market in Paris up to the 1700s.


The market started as open-air stalls, but too many vendors arrived, and it had to be enclosed. Mostly to create a barrier between it and the cemetery of the Holy Innocent that was relocated in the 19th century due to accusations of infected food.


When the market was expanded, people of low income came in to consume dishes made from the leftover food of the wealthy. They used to collect the leftovers and stir them in a pot with water. The villagers used to call these gatherings “harlequin” since in the pots there was a great mixture of colors.


Those who had enough money could buy soups in a corner, Émile Zola described in his book “Le Ventre de Paris” about what we know today as onion soup, “At one corner of the foot-pavement a large circle of customers clustered around a vendor of cabbage soup. The bright tin cauldron, full of broth, was steaming over a little low stove, through the holes of which came the pale glow of the embers. From a napkin-lined basket, the woman took some thin slices of bread and dropped them into yellow cups; then with a ladle she filled the cups with liquor.”


Upon noticing this dish, the restaurants implemented this method by adding the gratin touch, becoming “high society”. As the years went on, the market area became a green area with a shopping mall.

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