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Soup à L’Oignon ©

February 21, 2013







As I have mentioned to you before, my dear Grandmother, on my father’s side was what they used to call “Domestic Science Trained,” known today as “Home Economics.” Lately I have been taking a wonderful journey into her beautifully written cookery books, all of which I have carefully kept and I thought you would enjoy her recipe for “Onion Soup.”

Do not be at all put off by all the detail…..I have really enjoyed preparing this as it is one of my favorite soups. For those in a hurry, just hit the ‘ingredients’ and go to the photographs.




Soup à L'Oignon ©

Jane E. Worthington!




Soup à L'Oignon ©



French Onion Soup is one of the great French delights of life and especially if you have been fortunate enough to try it at 5 a.m. in the small restaurants which surrounded the old market place in Paris, of “Les Halles.” This market closed down in 1971, but “Onion Soup,” lives on and it is traditionally based on caramelized onions and beef stock, served with a crouton covered in Gruyere cheese and baked under the grill in a ramekin.

In times gone by it was seen as a poor mans soup, because onions were always plentiful and easy to grow. One of the traditions began in Paris, when  the French merchants bringing in their goods to market, on a cold and icy morning, needed sustaining with a hot and wholesome soup. It then became popular after a night out, for party goers and there was a big resurgence of Onion Soup in the 60’s when there was a renewed interest in French cuisine. My dear father gave me this tip and I was fortunate enough to try the soup at Les Halles, but sadly the market is no longer at Les Halles, as it was replaced by the “Forum des Halles,” a modern shopping precinct! The market, much like Covent Garden in London is now on the out skirts of Paris.

There are many variations to this recipe, but for me the one below works the best. The secret is to sweat the onions first with a little salt, in order to release all the liquid out of the finely cut onion rings and then to let them gently caramelize, over a medium heat until they are mahogany brown. This process must not be hurried, because if the onions burn, it will spoil the flavor, giving your soup a bitter flavor. It is a process that can take 30-40 minutes, but is well worth the effort. The browned onions also give the final color to the soup and if you ever order a soup and it comes pale in color, you can know there will not be much flavor.

To enhance the flavor Cognac can be added, or dry sherry. Some french recipes add red wine, Burgundy or Pinot Noir. It is added at the end to “Deglace,” your saucepan.

This is a special request from my dear friend Jo and I thank her, because I had not made it in a while and we all really enjoyed every mouthful!





Soup à L'Oignon ©





4 Persons





4 large onions finely sliced

50 g butter

1 heaped teaspoon flour

1-1.5 Lits beef stock or enough to just cover cooked onions

1/2 tsp brown sugar, if onions are not already sweet

2 tbs Dry Sherry or Cognac


4 Slices of french bread

4 tbs grated Gruyere cheese



Beef Stock

2 cuts of beef shin bone

2 large onions quartered

4 carrots quartered


1/2 tsp salt

6 black pepper corns

Bouquet Garni ( 1 bay leaf, parsley stalks and fresh thyme.)

2 leeks ( opt )

6 mushrooms ( opt )

2 cloves garli whole ( opt )




The essential ingredient to a good soup is “Home Made Stock.” It really does make all the difference. A stock cube is a very poor substitute!  Making a stock is not at all difficult and in this case the most appropriate stock is a good strong “Beef Stock.”

Ask your butcher for 2 or 3 cuts of beef shin bone. ( In my case he only had ribs, but the result was delicious! ) Some people roast the bones and vegetable in a roasting tin first, but I just placed the bones in a saucepan, covered them with cold water and brought them to the boil. After five minutes of boiling, you skim off any dark scum and add your vegetables. Leave to simmer for an hour.



1. Wash and place beef bones in saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. After five minutes, skim off any impurities/scum with a slotted spoon and add your vegetables. Add more water if necessary. The water should come half way up your pot, 1.5 liters maximum, otherwise your stock will be too watered down.

2. Add your vegetables and seasoning. I added some additional, optional vegetables, which in this case gave a very favorable result. Add your bouquet garni, tide together with string and tie to handle of saucepan.

3. Leave your stock to simmer, while you prepare your onions.



1. Peel large onions and slice finely.

2. Melt butter in wide saucepan. (The wider the saucepan, the more surface area, thus the onions color more quickly.)

3. Add onions, toss in butter, add 1/2 tsp salt. ( This brings the liquid out of the onions.) Turn heat  down very low, cover onions with a piece of grease- proof paper, place lid on saucepan and leave vegetables to gently sweat for ten minutes. You will notice after ten minutes the volume of onions has reduced.

4. Remove lid and grease-proof paper and over a ‘medium’ heat leave onions to fry, stirring them occasionally, until they are a deep mahogany color. This process must not be hurried, it will take up to 3/4 hour. You want your onions to caramelize with out “burning” them, because this will give your soup a bitter taste.

5. Once your onions are a deep mahogany color, giving strong flavor and an appetizing color to your soup, taste onions for sweetness. Add  your sugar, if necessary and your teaspoon of flour. Stir to cook flour one minute and add your sherry or cognac. Cook another minute for alcohol to evaporate and finally add your beef stock, which you have previously strained. Important : Add just enough to cover onions, so that your end result is ” Onions with a little liquid.”



1. Cut four slices of bread (and extra if you wish.)

2. Place in toaster, or under grill, toasting both sides.

3. When toasted, spread the one side with a little butter and cover with grated  gruyere cheese.

4. Either melt cheese under grill and add to each individual bowl and cover with soup. OR Fill oven-proof bowls with soup, float your toasted bread on the top with the unmelted cheese and place under grill.

Bon Appétit!



Soup à L'Oignon ©

This is what you are aiming for.







Soup à L'Oignon ©

Choose 4 large onions.


Soup à L'Oignon ©

Peel and cut off root.


Soup à L'Oignon ©

These are purple onions, but you can also use yellow onions.

All the lovely onion flavor bursting forth!

Soup à L'Oignon ©

Wash and place your cuts of shin bone in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and after five minutes

using a slotted spoon, skim off any scum which has formed.

Soup à L'Oignon ©

For this particular recipe, my butcher only had some rib bones. These gave an equally delicious stock.


Soup à L'Oignon ©

Wash and peel  the vegetables for your stock.


Soup à L'Oignon ©

Add to stock pot. Here I added everything together and skimmed off after, but the correct way is to boil your bones first.


Soup à L'Oignon ©

Add bouquet garni, made up of bay leaf, parsley stalks and fresh thyme. Tie together with string and tie to side handle

of saucepan. Leave stock to simmer while you prepare onions.

Soup à L'Oignon ©

Cut onions in half.


Soup à L'Oignon ©

Slice onions finely. I include a little of the root, chopped up finely into cubes for added flavor.


Soup à L'Oignon ©

Slivers of onion. The thinner the better.


Soup à L'Oignon ©

Toss in butter, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt. Cover onions with greaseproof paper and lid. Turn heat down to ‘minimum’

and ‘sweat ‘onions for ten minutes.

Soup à L'Oignon ©

After ten minutes remove lid and grease-proof paper and turn up heat to medium. Leave to caramelize, stirring occasionally.

If they begin to stick to base of pan, just scrape pan with wooden spoon, so it becomes clean again. Do not let burn, this

will make soup bitter.

Soup à L'Oignon ©

Here you will notice the volume of onions has reduced substantially and a nice golden color is forming.


Soup à L'Oignon ©

After 30-40 minutes you will have attained a rich mahogany color. Taste for sweetness, add sugar if required.


Soup à L'Oignon ©

Add 1 heaped teaspoon of flour and cook for one minute stirring.


Soup à L'Oignon ©

Now add sherry or cognac and cook for a further minute to allow alcohol to evaporate. this gets rid of the bitterness

of the alcohol and you are left with the delicious flavor.

Soup à L'Oignon ©

Now add your tasty beef stock which you have previously strained. Enough to just cover the onions, so that the final result

is onions with a little liquid. You thus keep a strong flavor. Taste for seasoning. Do add enough salt to really bring all the lovely flavors out!

Soup à L'Oignon ©

Prepare your croutons by toasting or grilling your bread. French bread is best, here I have used Greek village bread.

Lightly butter and cover with grated Gruyere. This is the most suitable cheese to use, as it has flavor and goes all stringy.

Soup à L'Oignon ©

Now place under the grill and melt. OR alternatively, fill individual fire proof soup bowl. Fill with soup, float toasted

bread and cheese on top and grill under strong grill.

Soup à L'Oignon ©

This is when the bread is grilled before hand, ready to be floated on your onion soup.


Soup à L'Oignon ©

Final result! Bon appétit !





2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2013 7:46 pm

    Thank you so much. I am glad you enjoyed it.
    Filakia Pola .:)


  2. October 29, 2016 7:27 pm

    Reblogged this on What's Cooking In Jane's Kitchen and commented:

    Just the thing for a cold evening!

    Liked by 1 person

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