French Onion Soup

Staying in a British run hotel during my week in Les Menuires, the food was generally less French and less spectacular than I had anticipated.  Lunches tended to be a fairly rushed, slope-side beer and croque-monsieur (a combination which is not to be sniffed at, I should add)  and dinners were often very English and, frankly, quite bland.  But towards the end of the week when my thigh muscles were refusing to snowplough any longer than a couple of hours, we began to choose our lunch venues more carefully and it was during these few days that I experienced the foodie highlights of my week.  These included a variety of crepes, a beautiful onion soup, a rib-sticking tartiflette and a stunningly presented selection of cheese and cured meats. 

It would be silly to try and recreate the latter here in Scotland as we simply do not have the same selection of cured meats but the former three are dishes I want to introduce into my repertoire, starting with the soup.

In The Kitchen Diaries Nigel Slater recommends roasting the onions before simmering them in wine and stock.  I liked this idea but, much like my garlic butter, I wanted a little more kick and so added an extra raw onion to the mixture.  The result was a rich and oddly meaty soup which I was tremendously pleased with.

 French Onion Soup

(served 5 as a starter)

5 medium onions

30g salted butter

200ml white wine

1.5 – 2 litres vegetable stock

French bread, sliced on the diagonal

100g Gruyère cheese, melted

  • Preheat the oven to 200oC. 
  • Peel four of the onions and trim ends.  Cut in half lengthways and place in baking tray.  Dot with butter and season. 
  • Place tray in oven and roast for 30 mins turning occasionally until the onions are golden brown.
  • Let the onions cool slightly then chop roughly.
  • Add the roasted onions and the white wine to a pan.  Bring to the boil and reduce the liquid by half. 
  • Add the stock and the remaining onion (peeled and sliced thinly).   Simmer for 30 minutes.  Season very carefully.
  • Toast the slices of baguette.  Ladle soup into bowls and carefully place a slice of bread on the top of each.  Sprinkle liberally with cheese and place under the grill.
  • Serve once the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Not very traditional but I put extra grated cheese on the table to be stirred into the soup as and when we pleased.  🙂

20 thoughts on “French Onion Soup

  1. I’ve decided to eat much more soup this year (hope my blog readers won’t mind!), and French Onion Soup is definitely on the cards. Thanks for giving thumbs up to Nigel’s recipe – he’s always great, isn’t he!?

  2. Happy New Year, Wendy! I agree w/ roasting the onions first to mellow and caramelize. Bet that soup soothed your aching muscles as much as a hot bath would.

  3. Wendy, I have visions of Basil Fawlty goose-stepping through your hotel chasing Manuel!

    A good French Onion soup is just what it’s order for winter.

  4. Pille – I trust him like no other chef. 🙂

    Maryann – Thanks, Maryann. I’m resting up this week and feeling much less sore. 🙂

    Susan – It was very soothing indeed. And I couldn’t get over how beefy it tasted despite being totally vege.

    Peter – It wasn’t far off Fawlty Towers, actually!

  5. French onion soup is definitely a classic worth repeating anytime!! As an aside I LOVED your comment about the 7th tip on the mashed potatoes so much that I added it with a link to your blog in the same post.

  6. Comfort at its best! I was just reading Julia Childs recipe on Onion Soup, as it is on my list of next weeks soups! I like the way you presented yours in a more flat bowl than a crock. In the past I have used a small crock with the soup, crouton and then loaded with cheese. But after they come out of the broiler they were so hot and the cheese was covering the entire top of the crock, not that it is a bad thing, but they are hard to eat. So I am going to try the way you have presented it.
    I bet the foodie part of you vacation was great, of course that is always my favorite part of a vacation!

  7. Bellini – That’s funny! I’m going to post later in the month about something else that I do with leftover mash and will link to your post rather than explain how to make the mash. 🙂

    Deb – To be honest, they are the only bowls I have more than two of and I had folk round for dinner. No choice! 🙂

  8. Your photos are breathtaking! I would have been the woose – snow-bunny, inside, sipping hot toddies!
    Now I’m hungry for some onion soup! Too bad you didn’t have any lovely dinners – but lunch is good…very good!

  9. Hi Wendy,
    I love French onion soupd, but would you believe it that I never made some myself. Thanks for the recipe, I would like to try this when I am back in Sydney. Roasting the onions first is such a great idea as it bringings out the natural sweetness of the onions.

    Have a great weekend!


  10. Mmmm, I haven’t tried onion soup for years! But your photo just brought back the flavour! Isn’t it funny how blog photos can evoke so much of a flavour experience?

  11. Thank You, very good tasting my cold enjoyed every slurp. Trying to find some long lost family out there in Scotland. Macphee’s . I live in the U.S. my family here has grown very small.

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