Papa Fabarre's, the restaurant in the downtown Macy's, is closing, as is the St. Louis Room on the sixth floor. The closings are part of a downsizing of the downtown store, as expanded upon in our Building Blocks blog.
Most locations of the former Famous-Barr, which was bought out by Macy's, at one time had restaurants. This was the last remnant of that tradition, which was famous for its Les Halles Onion Soup.
Famous-Barr distributed the recipe to its customers several times. This is the version printed on recipe cards in the mid-1970s.
FAMOUS-BARR'S FRENCH ONION SOUP
Yield: About 4 quarts soup; 16 servings.
5 pounds unpeeled onions
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons paprika
1 bay leaf
7 (about 16-ounce) cans beef broth, divided
1 cup white wine, optional
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
Caramel coloring or Kitchen Bouquet, optional
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
Sourdough or French baguettes, optional
Swiss or Gruyere cheese, optional
Peel onions and slice 1/8 inch thick. Melt butter in a 6-quart (or larger) stockpot. Add onions; cook, uncovered, over low heat for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in pepper, paprika and bay leaf; saute over low heat 10 minutes more, stirring frequently. Stir in flour until incorporated.Pour in broth and wine. Increase heat and bring to a boil.Reduce heat to low and simmer very slowly for 2 hours.
Adjust color to a rich brown with caramel coloring. Season with salt. Refrigerate overnight.
To serve, heat soup in microwave or on stove top. If desired, pour into ovenproof crocks or bowls. Top with a slice of bread and a sprinkling of grated cheese. Heat under the broiler until cheese melts and bubbles, about 5 minutes.
Leftover soup can be frozen.