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Papa Fabarre's
Papa Fabarre's, circa 2006

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.