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Sep 7, 2010 03:29 PM

Onion variety for French Onion Soup?

I just made 2-3 quarts of beef broth/stock and am thinking of making a French onion soup for the first time in the next day or two. I am wondering how much it matters what variety of onions I use.

I know from other threads that some people here, like jfood, use "sweet" onions. I actually only ever buy yellow onions, which are apparently not the same as sweet onions. I'm also not sure if onions sold simply as "sweet onions" (from Texas) are the same as Vidalia and Walla-Walla style onions.


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  1. I've making Julia Child's "French Onion Soup" recipe for over 30 years now, & have used all plain old regular yellow onions, "sweet" onions like Vidalias/Texas/WallaWallas, & combinations of both. It's turned out perfect every time no matter what I used.

    So just have at it & enjoy!! :)

    1. Yellow onions are just fine. It is the carmelization of them that is really important for color and flavor. Get them really dark.

      1. Yellow. I find the sweet varieties too sweet.

        1. I wonder if anyone can offer a favorite French Onion Soup recipe? I'm finding that my collection of cookbooks actually seems rather poor for this task. NY Times cookbook seems not to have one at all, nor Barbara Kafka's Vegetable Love. Bittman's How to Cook Everything looks too hurried (30-45 minutes caramelization?).

          I'm thinking of using a mix of yellow and Texas sweet onions...

          2 Replies
            1. re: Bada Bing

              My hands-down favorite recipe for authentic French Onion Soup is, of course, the one penned by Julia Child in her fabulous & hands-down best cookbook "The Way To Cook".

              Either buy or borrow a copy of this fabulous tome. My copy is disintegrating, as yours will most likely when you find so many recipes you MUST try over & over - lol!!!!

              That said, while I follow her recipe, I don't cook the onions as long as she suggests, but still end up with French Onion Soup ambrosia. Go figure.

            2. Yellow storage onions - yes, yellow storage onions are the best for certain things and this is one of them. And not huge ones (the layers are too thick and the pieces are too long) - yes, that means you need to cut up a lot of yellow storage onions - no whining (crying is OK, though)! Red are OK, but the color when cooked is grayer and marginally less appetizing for some people.

              But not sweet onions. They do not have as complex a set of flavors as the storage onions for this purpose. Sweet onions are best for eating raw, not simmering and stewing and the like.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Karl S

                I've always heard and thought that, too, about sweet onions versus yellow. Sounds like something worth testing, if I can fit it into the cooking day.

                1. re: Bada Bing

                  For me, it's based on my experience making this soup in different seasons, and with different types of onions available. I used to be more wary of yellow onions, and my experience taught me different, as it were.