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French Onion Soup Without Cheese?

j
justalex Nov 11, 2012 06:52 PM

I know the economy is horrible and restaurants are cutting back. I'm still a bit floored that a small, $5 cup of French onion soup arrived with no cheese on top of the croutons. My husband asked the waitress where the cheese was and she replied that she asked the chef the same thing. He told her that it was the way they served it. She was clearly befuddled.

This was a mid-range, indy restaurant and it was the featured soup of the day. Am I being too picky? No Gruyere, no Swiss? The shame. This place was a regular on our rotation until they began cheaping out on ingredients. I'm done with them for good over 25 cents worth of cheese.

Our entrees brought no joy either. Just sad.

  1. gaffk Nov 12, 2012 01:32 PM

    I would be devastated if I received French Onion soup without cheese. Anyplace I have ever ordered it--from local pubs to finer dining--has always included cheese. In fact, the sole reason I order the soup is the bubbly, toasted cheese. There is one local fine-ish dining establishment that has a 5-cheese combination that is delicious.

    Maybe it's a regional thing, but I have never seen the soup listed as gratinee, just French Onion.

    2 Replies
    1. re: gaffk
      r
      rccola Nov 12, 2012 01:40 PM

      Maybe it's because we're in America? In France, one doesn't order French onion soup unless in a tourist trap-- piège à touristes, if you will. If one wants cheese on top of toasted baguette floating in onion soup, one orders soupe à l’oignon Gratineé.

      And, just as sadly, be prepared for a lack of rich and beefy taste. They can make it with chicken stock or vegetable stock.

      1. re: rccola
        r
        rccola Nov 12, 2012 01:54 PM

        Here's my theory: it started out as poor people food to fill cold and empty bellies in the winter when all they had was root vegetables like onions. Maybe a few carrots or whatever. My grandmother used to make soup of onions, potato, water, salt and pepper, usually with some butter in it. It was oddly tasty. We dipped stale bread into it. Usually rye. But she was from Romania and grew up very poor. And the French tend to make everything better.

        Then cheese was added when they had it. Making it more filling, nutritious and tasty for not very much investment. And a use for stale bread.

        And of all my grandmother's lost recipes, that's one I never tried to make. Nor would I try to make onion soup without cheese and bread on top.

    2. r
      rccola Nov 12, 2012 12:36 PM

      I get French onion soup FOR the melted toasty cheese with the soup as a flavoring for the cheese. Odd, as I ordinarily dislike Swiss/gruyere cheeses but the soup cuts right though everything I dislike about the cheese's flavor.

      But to be fair, with cheese everyone here is right: gratinee. Without: onion soup.

      1. Bacardi1 Nov 12, 2012 12:29 PM

        How was it billed on the menu?

        To be honest, basic "French Onion Soup" doesn't come with cheese (or the crouton for that matter). Even Julia Child's recipes tout that. With the crouton & cheese it's called "French Onion Soup Gratinee". No "Gratinee"? No crouton or cheese, just a tasty rich-broth caramelized-onion soup.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bacardi1
          huiray Nov 12, 2012 01:32 PM

          YES!!

          I dislike the cheese on so-called French Onion Soup here in the US. ESPECIALLY those which CHOKE the soup with so much f**king cheese that there is barely any soup to speak of. And to think there are folks who go into rhapsodies about the cheese, cheese, and more cheese on their onion soups.

          1. re: Bacardi1
            j
            justalex Nov 12, 2012 05:31 PM

            It was their soup du jour and the waitress simply called it French Onion Soup. I think it must be a regional thing because in the numerous times I've ordered it at a variety of restaurants, FOS always has croutons and cheese. This version did have croutons of a sort.

            I've rarely encountered "Gratinee" on the menu except at some of the higher price point places. Live and learn. Next time I order FOS, I will inquire as to the inclusion of cheese.

          2. a
            ahuva Nov 11, 2012 07:58 PM

            umm...i don't really like melted cheese (i know, heresy!) so I usually make my french onion soup without cheese - as long as I have really crusty garlic bread (and no one to kiss for a while)

            1 Reply
            1. re: ahuva
              j
              justalex Nov 11, 2012 08:08 PM

              You bring up a good point, The bread in the soup had no crust - like a mushy mess. I brought it home in a to-go container. No reviving it. Went in the trash and I hate throwing away food.

              Now I'm craving crusty garlic bread. Ouch!

            2. Chinon00 Nov 11, 2012 07:48 PM

              I had an onion soup in Paris (if that's worth anything) that included no cheese. Onions were carmelized really sweet.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Chinon00
                j
                justalex Nov 11, 2012 07:56 PM

                That sounds really good. Carmelized onions are one of my favorite foods. Lilies for their beauty and their cousins for the taste.

                I had a steak tartare entree in the shadow of Notre Dame way too many years ago. Everything tastes better in Paris, because it is! :)

              2. TeRReT Nov 11, 2012 07:22 PM

                They probably had run out or opened the package to find it moldy or something. If the waitress was confused by it and it wasn't her first day on the job, I'd say normally they do have cheese on it. Maybe the chef was particularly ornery that day and forgot the cheese and didn't want to be corrected by the waitstaff. Or perhaps they just had a lot of onions that were going to go bad so he made an onion soup as special but they don't carry the cheese for it, in which case he should have just called it an onion soup rather then a french onion soup.

                A bit strange, and I would have missed the cheese, but I would still go back based on that, but if the rest of the meal was mediocre and you have had other problems then hopefully there are other places nearby you can give business to.

                1 Reply
                1. re: TeRReT
                  j
                  justalex Nov 11, 2012 07:44 PM

                  They offer Swiss cheese as an option on their burger and also serve a Reuben sandwich. I'm not trying to nickle and dime the place, but I'd be really ticked off if I was served a Reuben with no Swiss. "That is the way we serve it here." LOL

                  I'm just really sad about the downturn of this restaurant. I like the owner and contacted him about this snafu. Haven't heard back in 48 hours. I've been rooting for them to succeed, but sometimes things just have to fail. I've noticed that about our small roster of independent restaurants lately. The offerings are greatly reduced menu-wise. *sad*

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