Julia Child poses 3/16 in her Santa Barbara kitchen. Her kitchen is small and square with a single window over the sink.
Julia Child's Last Meal Was Her Own French Onion Soup
By Kalea Martin
Along with her cookbooks, cooking shows, and an extensive repertoire of French recipes, Julia Child’s onion-cutting skills have been immortalized in both her autobiography, “My Life In France,” and the film “Julie and Julia.” These onion-cutting skills play a large part in her famous French onion soup recipe, which wound up being her last meal before she passed away.
Even though Child was still cooking well into her 80s, her last French onion soup dinner was prepared for her by her assistant Stephanie Hersh before Child passed away in her sleep at age 91. It’s safe to say that her assistant followed her recipe carefully, as Child once refused to hire an otherwise qualified candidate simply because they didn’t slice onions correctly.
Using thinly sliced onions cooked over medium then medium-high heat while adding salt and sugar in between, the combination of the temperature, addition of salt and sugar, and thickness of the slices allow the onions to caramelize to a “dark walnut color.” Whisk in flour and remove the pot from the heat before adding beef stock, Cognac, and wine, and let the soup simmer for over an hour.
Most people would probably expect Julia Child’s favorite food to be beef bourguignon or something similar, but as it turns out, it was a much simpler dish altogether: soup. Rather than French onion, however, Child preferred vichyssoise, another type of French soup made with potatoes, leek, chicken stock, cream, and ironically, no onions.