Lipton Onion Soup Mix is one of those things I always have in the kitchen, although I’ve never made soup with it. Well, I have thrown a packet into a homemade vegetable soup before, but I’ve never made the soup by itself. Those packets are instant flavor, good for casseroles, gravy, dip, stir fry, or any kind of cooked meat. The soup mix was introduced in 1952, and became an immediate hit with cooks.
For Ashkenazi Jews in America, onion soup mix was both familiar and new. Rather than slicing or browning onions for noodle kugel, blintzes, and brisket, busy housewives could obtain the same onion flavor in a fraction of the time. When I asked my grandmother—an avid home cook who makes nearly everything from scratch—why she used a packaged food in brisket, she matter-of-factly said that it’s because her mother used it. “I actually do really like the taste of it too,” she said. “It’s also one less thing that I have to do while cooking. You never just make brisket. You also make a lot of other things to go with it, so if I can just take a package and throw it in there then it’ll save me some time and some pots and pans.”