French Onion Soup w/ a Mexican Twist {Food 'N Flix: Julie & Julia}

Last month (November) was my turn to host Food 'n Flix and I chose the movie Julie & Julia.  There are so many inspiring scenes and amazingly delicious dishes to choose from it was hard for me to decide where to let my inspiration take me.  I ended up making a traditional French Onion Soup with a Mexican twist, because of a scene of Julia Child chopping onions.  The scene takes place right after Julia Child's first day of cooking class at Le Cordon Bleu.  Julia comes home to practice her onion chopping skills until she's more adept at it than her male classmates.  She's chopped so many onions, that she has a huge pile of chopped onions that take over more than half of her kitchen table.  Julia is still chopping away, crying and sniffling from the smell of the onions when  her husband Paul gets home from work.  The smell is so strong, he isn't able to spend more than a few minutes in the kitchen.

I love that scene because I have a love-hate relationship with onions.  I love to eat onions!  Cooked, grilled, raw, baked, covered in batter and fried.  You name it, I'll eat it.  But...I don't like chopping them.  For as long as I can remember, chopping onions has made me cry.  As soon as I slice into an onion, my eyes start to sting and well up with tears.  Before you know it, the tears are streaming down my cheeks, and my mascara is running, making me look like something out of a telenovela.

My grandmother and aunts said that once I got older, I'd stop crying when chopping onions.  Well, I'm 38 years old and I still cry every time I chop an onion.  I've tried soaking the onions or rinsing them with cold water before chopping them.  I've tried balancing a large piece of onion on top of my head while chopping them.  I've worn large Jackie O style sunglasses while chopping onions.  And I've even bit down on a piece of onion while I chopped.  None of these tricks have worked.  But still, I continue to slice and chop onions because the flavor they add to any dish is well worth the tears.

Such is the case with this classic French Onion Soup.  Sweet caramelized onion in a golden broth topped with crispy slices of toasted bolillo roll and oodles of melted Manchego cheese.  The Mexican twist to this soup comes from a splash of tequila that I use in place of white wine, which is what is traditionally used.  This soup is so good it will bring tears to your eyes, even if you didn't cry while chopping the onions.    

French Onion Soup w/ a Mexican Twist
(recipe adapted from The Bonne Femme Cookbook)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup tequila
  • 2 bolillo rolls, cut in 1-1/2-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup shredded Manchego cheese

  1. In a large 3 to 4-quart stockpot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat just until the butter melts.  Add the onions.  Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes or until softened, but not brown.  Season with salt and pepper.  
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden brown.  (About 30 to 40 minutes.) 
  3. Turn the heat up to medium.  Stir in the flour with a wire whisk.  Let cook for 1 minute.  Slowly pour in the chicken broth, then the tequila.  Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover stockpot, and let the soup simmer for about 15 minutes.  
  4. While the soup is simmering, preheat oven to 375F.  In a small bowl, mix together the softened butter with the finely chopped garlic until well combined.  Spread garlic butter on one side of each slice of bolillo.  Place bolillo slices, butter side up, on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake in oven for about 10 to 12 minutes until toasted and golden brown.  
  5. Top each slice of bolillo with shredded cheese.  Return to oven for a couple of minutes until the cheese has completely melted.  
  6. To serve, ladle soup into bowl.  Top with 2 slices of cheesy bolillo toast.  Enjoy!!! 



  1. One of my favorite soups. Yummmmmm

  2. I love French Onion Soup, Hubby not so much. I stick my onions in the frig so I can chop them without crying. Room temperature onions always make me cry and I'm waaay older than you.

  3. Paula @ Vintage KitchenDecember 3, 2012 at 7:55 AM

    French onion soup is amazing and a splash of tequila makes it even better! This is a gorgeous recipe Leslie. And FYI I still cry like a baby and I´m 44. Grandma was wrong about this one...jaja
    The only thing that helps a tiny bit it running the knife often under cold water.

  4. Victoria of Flavors of the SunDecember 3, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    Tequila? I would never have thought to add it here, but I can just imagine that it is wonderful. Thanks for this idea.

  5. I can't remember if I've ever tried refrigerating my onions before chopping them. Will have to add that to my list of tricks to try. I'll let you know how it works out for me. :)

  6. Mine too! Every time I make it, I ask myself why I don't make it more often. :)

  7. I used to only make this soup with white wine. But one day I realized I was out of white wine AFTER I started making the soup, so I reached for the only thing I had in my liquor cabinet...tequila. :)

  8. I've never heard about running the knife under cold water before chopping onions. I will try that next time I chop onions, which will probably be in another hour or so. :)

  9. Hello Leslie. So touched that you used my recipe and "hitch-hiked" from it! Manchego cheese would be lovely (it's a good melter), and I like the idea of tequila. Why not?

    However, if anyone wants to do a traditional version of this recipe, simply use 1/2 cup dry white wine instead of the tequila and use Comté or Gruyère instead of Manchego.

    Thanks for introducing people to my book!

    Wini Moranville, author of The Bonne Femme Cookbook.

  10. This looks fabulous. And thanks, again, for hosting Food'N'Flix this/last month. I noticed that if I chop onions with my glasses on, I cry; if I chop them with my contacts, I'm golden. So, not sure if you wear glasses or contacts, but, if you do, try that and tell me what you think.

  11. www.hotspicyandskinny.comDecember 3, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    You said French Onion Soup with a Mexican twist and I came right over! Who knows, maybe some enterprising French cook made something like this during the French invasion of Mexico? No white wine but barrels of tequila?

    Also, keeping my onions in the fridge is the only thing that keeps me from crying!

  12. yep I wear contacts and I never cry chopping onions unless i'm using my glasses for some reason.

  13. Love the Mexican twist, and am trying to picture you balancing an onion on top of your head. :)

  14. I love French Onion Soup...and I love your Mexican twist (of course)! And I had to laugh, because I am exactly the same way with onions. I have tried everything. Sometimes the fridge helps...not always. have you tried the lit candle on the edge of the cutting board thing? Uh, yeah. Or only breathing through your mouth. What. Ever. You should have seen me back during my culinary apprenticeship. One day I was working a rotation in the big vegetable prep room and it was onion day. This mean a whole day of peeling, chopping, slicing, dicing onions in an enclosed room. I got so incredibly dizzy from the fumes and the tears that I almost passed out. I DID NOT make it past a couple of hours.

  15. I want to curl up, wrap a blanket around me and eat this soup!

  16. I am making this tonight for my inlaws, hoping they like it! Will update with results :) love your recipes Leslie!

    1. Ha. Well, I loved it. And the kids did as well. My imlaws added a salsa to their bowls though - kid you not! At least it was a salsa I made, I guess I get credit for it.

      Its a keeper, definately malong again. The house smelled delish while cooking this!