Famous Barr’s French Onion Soup – A St. Louis Classic

Famous Barr French Onion Soup

French onion soup is a really old and super famous dish. This dish is a classic! And when we talk about the best of the best, Famous Barr French Onion Soup is at the top. It’s from St. Louis, Missouri, which is where this department store called Famous Barr was. They had a restaurant there that made this amazing soup. Let’s dive into its background and learn how to prepare it at home.

The Legacy of Famous Barr

Famous Barr was more than just a store; it was like a really big deal in our town. It started back in 1913 and everybody loved it. For many, the store is like as a second home. There was this cool place inside called the Famous-Barr Tea Room. It wasn’t just an old tea room. It was a special place where people chill out, eat some good food, and try out their famous Barr French onion soup. It was like the cherry on top of the whole Famous Barr experience!

The Recipe

Here’s how you can recreate the magic of Famous Barr French onion soup at home:


  • 5 pounds of onions (unpeeled)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 7 (16-ounce) cans of beef broth (Swanson’s brand recommended)
  • 1 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (such as Wondra) or instant flour (such as Wondra)
  • Caramel coloring (optional) or Kitchen Bouquet (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • French baguette (optional)
  • Swiss cheese or Gruyère cheese (optional)


  • First, peel the onions. Then, slice them into thin pieces, about 1/8 inch thick. It’s best to use a food processor if available.
  • Heat the butter on low in a big pot on the stove. Make sure the pot can hold at least 6 quarts.
  • Put the sliced onions in and cook without covering for 1 1/2 hours, stirring sometimes. Cooking slowly makes the onions soft and sweet.
  • Mix in the black pepper, paprika, and bay leaf. Keep cooking on low heat for another 10 minutes.
  • Put 6 cans of beef broth into the pot and add the dry white wine if you want to.
  • Mix the flour in the last can of beef broth and then stir it into the soup that’s boiling.
  • Cook the soup on low heat for 2 hours.
  • Change the color to a dark brown by adding caramel coloring (if you want) or Kitchen Bouquet. Refrigerate the soup overnight to allow the flavors to meld.
  • When you’re ready to eat, warm up the soup by either using the microwave or heating it on the stove.
  • You can put the soup in oven-safe bowls or crocks. Then, add a piece of French bread on top and sprinkle cheese on it.
  • Put the crocks under the broiler until the cheese melts and bubbles (about 5 minutes).
  • you can save extra soup by putting it in the freezer for later.

Health Benefits

Despite its indulgent reputation, Famous Barr French onion soup does offer some health perks:

  • Antioxidant Power: Onions, which are the main ingredient, have lots of vitamin C and something called quercetin (which is a kind of flavonoid). These things help stop cells from getting hurt by free radicals. Free radicals can damage cells and make you sick.
  • Mineral Boost: French onion soup is not just tasty, it’s also good for you! This soup is loaded with important minerals that your body needs.
  • Potassium: This thing can stop your body from holding onto too much water, which can make you feel bloated and cause health problems like swelling and high blood pressure. Phosphorus, Magnesium, Iron, and Selenium: All contribute to overall health1.
  • Gut Health: Onions have stuff in them that helps good bacteria in your belly. Having a good and healthy belly is important for controlling weight.

Drawbacks – A Caloric Indulgence

The traditional French onion soup recipe served at Famous Barr is not particularly healthy. Here’s why:

  • Calories and Saturated Fat: The original version has lots of calories and unhealthy fats. The butter-fried yellow onions and Parmesan cheese make it indulgent.
  • Canned Versions: Some canned French onion soups from the store aren’t just greasy, they also have lots of chemicals added to them.

Healthier Modifications

But fear not! You can create a lighter version of this classic soup without giving up flavor. Here’s how:

  • Skip the Bread and Cheese: Leave out the bread crust and cheese on top. This makes it have fewer calories and less fat.
  • Add Vegetables: Make your Famous Barr French onion soup even better by adding veggies like mushrooms, celery, or leeks. These veggies add more vitamins and keep carbs low.

Bottom Lines

Whether you’re right here in St. Louis or miles away, slurping down a bowl of Famous Barr French onion soup feels like getting a warm hug from the good ol’ days. Let’s recreate that comfortable sensation and enjoy every bite of this delicious, salty delicacy.


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