Famous Barr French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup from Famous & Barr in St. Louis, Missouri. Nothing is as reminiscent of Famous as this iconic French onion soup.  The soup was thick and rich, bubbling with melted cheese atop two slices of French baguette.

As the stores closed their restaurants, it was fortunate that many years ago the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published the recipe in their Food Section so fanatics of this soup could recreate their obsession at home!


  • 5 lbs. med white onions
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 C flour
  • 3 – 32oz containers (8cans) of beef broth (I’ve also used a combination of beef (64 oz) and chicken broth (32 oz) and it has actually been my favorite result.)
  • 1 C white wine
  • Salt to season
  • 16 oz. Gruyere cheese (can substitute Swiss which I typically do), shredded
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan
  • 1 French Baguette, sliced


To Prepare the Soup:

  1. Slice the onions ⅛” thick. Melt butter in a large pot and sauté the onions over low heat for 1½ – 2 hours.
  2. Add seasonings; pepper, paprika and bay leaves. Mix well and saute on low for 2-3 minutes; stirring frequently.
  3. Add ⅔ of the broth to the pot and stir well. And the flour to the remaining broth and mix thoroughly and then add to the pot, stirring in. Add wine and simmer 2 hours.
  4. Refrigerate overnight.

To Serve:

  1. Turn on oven to broil.
  2. Brush bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Lightly brown bread using the broiler watching very carefully so not to burn.
  3. Heat soup on stove top.
  4. Layer soup, then Parmesan toasted bread, then cheese in ovenproof bowls.
  5. Broil until cheese melts; 3-5 minutes. Watch carefully!
  6. Let cool for a couple of minutes before eating.