Enjoying Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée … French Onion Soup French Style

Pillivuyt Classic French Onion Soup Bowl

French onion soup, that incomparably delicious and heartwarming dish of sliced onions in beef stock, with toasted bread on top, smothered with melted Comté or gruyère cheese, is a national French treasure. It is a dish that is best served hot, hot, hot, and typically in the wintertime. Often served as an appetizer before a hearty winter dinner, it is equally good as an entrée, with a buttered baguette, coupled with a glass of chilled white wine. Once you make this soup, you’ll understand why Julia Child once remarked “this soup made the onion famous.”

While the taste of the soup is phenomenal (my son calls it “flavor-town”), what sets it apart from other soups is unquestionably the large “mounds” of gruyère or Comté cheese that is placed on top of the soup just prior to it being placed under the broiler to melt. (Just the discussion of the melting cheese is enough to make one’s mouth water.)  Having its origins in France that date back a few centuries, “French” onion soup will typically be found on every French bistro’s menu especially in the wintertime. And, increasingly, we Americans are discovering this delicious soup and making it ourselves at home necessitating quality French onion soup bowls. Over the years, I have found having these bowls makes a practical addition to any kitchen. Perfect for it’s intended purpose, French onion soup, to use for all soups, to heated macaroni & cheese, to cereal bowls, even to use in setting up a mise en place when organizing recipe ingredients, you’ll be amazed at how often you’ll reach for these bowls.

Making French Onion Soup at Home

Our 'go-to' recipe for making French Onion Soup is always Julia Child’s, in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Who is better credited with introducing American’s to authentic French cooking than she?  The recipe is relatively simple and straight-forward, and the addition of cognac or white wine adds to the rich beef broth’s flavor.  It may take a little long to make due to simmering time, but it’s well-worth the wait, and time spent on cooking it.  So, get out your French Garnier-Thiebaut apronand start making this classic soup.  After your first sip, you’ll be transported to a street in Paris on a brisk November day, surrounded by wonder. Bon Appétit!

Best French Onion Soup Bowls – Porcelain, ‘Ears’ or Handles?

Pillivuyt Classic French Onion Soup Bowl

We have tried various bowls and crocks, but inevitably always return to Pillivuyt’s porcelain French Onion Soup Bowls. This is largely due to two factors:  first, the material – they are porcelain, and second, they are designed with “ears” rather than handles. While traditional French onion soup bowls can be made from ceramics or faience, porcelain is the very best.  Solid, durable, oven and microwave proof.  No crazing or cracking when subjected to high temperatures. Pillivuyt’s porcelain is of such a quality and durability that it is ideal for broiling the French Onion Soup. They can be placed directly in a hot oven or under the broiler allowing you to get that nice, crusty cheese top on your soup, and serving the soup, right from the oven.

Handles or Ears?  You will notice the design of the traditional French Onion soup bowl is different than a regular round soup bowls in that they have either handles or “ears” (in the case of Pillivuyt).  While handles provide the convenience of carrying the hot soup from the oven to the table, I myself would never hold a bowl of hot soup just by the handle because of the risk of it breaking off.  I consider the handle more of a decorative feature than a practical useful one. So, we recommend you always opt for a bowl design with “ears” –just enough of a lip to grab hold of the bowl from the oven with mitts, but solid enough not fracture or break off while carrying à la table.

Why Pillivuyt Brand French Onion Soup Bowls? 

Expertly crafted in Mehun-sur-Yevre, France, Pillivuyt has been perfecting the art of porcelain-making for over 200 years. Internationally known for manufacturing exceptional quality porcelain products from serveware to bakeware, they represent a tradition of excellence, handed down from generation to generation of master artisans and industrial porcelain makers. Made from materials sourced in France and greater Europe, each dish is crafted with care and fired at 2550 degrees fahrenheit resulting in porcelain that is of the highest quality. Pillivuyt's extraordinarily hard glaze is resistant to chipping, scratching, cracking and crazing. Pillivuyt products can be used safely in the oven (up to 550 degrees F), freezer, microwave and dishwasher. Thermal-shock resistant, it can be safely transferred from the freezer to a hot oven. When it's time for clean-up, a simple soak and scrub will do the trick.

Classic Design

Pillivuyt’s onion soup bowls typically hold about 15 ounces of soup, with a rim diameter of 5 inches allowing for the cheese to spread and melt over the crouton or bread.  All bowls are dishwasher safe.

For a charming look to your French table, consider Pillivuyt’s Brasserie pattern that includes French onion soup bowls.  This pattern has a vintage 1920's French bistro menu on the bowl's rim. The look, font and alignment of the menu give it a vintage touch adding to the charm when serving this delicious, classically French dish.