Sunday, March 27, 2011

Onion Soup Revealed

I've never been a big fan of French onion soup. The layer of cheese was always too viscous and the onion pieces too thick and the taste too raw oniony.

A few weeks ago, friends served us a homemade version. Wow. What a revelation. The onions were beautifully rendered so that they were sweet but retained a subtle onion flavor. Instead of a brick of cheese, they topped the soup with toasted bread with a thin layer of Swiss cheese. The toast was placed in the bowl and soup ladled onto it, melting the cheese. A spectacular dish.

We asked for the recipe and for the third Sunday in a row, I'm making it for lunch.

Here is the recipe with some tweaks by me.

6 to 8 onions sliced thin

3 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil (the original called for 4 tablespoons of butter. I'm trying steadily less butter to see how much difference it makes).

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup of all purpose flour

4 cups homemade or low sodium chicken broth

4 cups homemade or low sodium beef broth

Rustic bread such as ciabatta

Slices of Swiss cheese

Melt the butter and heat the olive oil in a large pot over a low-medium heat. Once hot, add the sliced onions. It looks like a lot, but hold the phone. They will reduce by three-quarters or more.

Cover and saute the onions over a low-medium heat (I did a little over 3 on my electric stove. Keep in mind every stove and very pot is different) for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Do not allow to brown or burn.

Remove the cover, stir in salt and sugar and set temperature to low (A little over 1 on my stove). Saute without the lid for 90 minutes to 2 hours. As you near the end of the saute time, heat the broths in a separate pot.

When the 90 minutes to 2 hours are up, add 1/4 cup flour and stir continuously for 5 minutes. Then add the broths and simmer 45 minutes.

Toast bread, top with a slice of Swiss cheese, place in a bowl and pour in soup.

A fantastic dish and easy, easy, easy to make. It's just as good the second and third days, and it's a great use for old, good quality bread. This is a superb example of making something really fantastic with very simple ingedients.

A huge winner.


  1. Thank you for posting this. I love French Onion soup and am always looking to make it at home. Instead of swiss, I tend to use a nice piece of garlic bread topped with some melted Buffalo mozzarella . It adds a smoky flavor to the soup vs the tang of the swiss.

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's a great recipe. I love the idea of Buffalo mouz in it. Sounds decadently delicious.