The ultimate makeover: French onion soup

The ultimate makeover: French onion soup

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(6 ratings)


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Cooking time

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 1 hr, 15 mins

Skill level



Serves 4

Angela Nilsen gives the French classic a makeover, losing the butter and beef stock to make a lighter soup that's still full of flavour

Nutrition and extra info

Additional info

  • Soup and croutons can be frozen separately
  • Vegetarian
  • Healthy
Nutrition info

Nutrition per serving

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For the soup

  • 4 large Spanish onions (about 900g/2lb)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 300ml dry white wine
  • 1 rounded tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp Swiss vegetable bouillon

For the topping

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin rapeseed oil
  • 4 long slices from a baguette
  • 25g parmesan, or vegetarian alternative, coarsely grated
  • 50g Gruyère, coarsely grated

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  1. Cut the onions in half lengthways, then slice down into very thin slices. Heat a very large pan, add the oil when hot, stir in the onions, 3 of the thyme sprigs and the bay leaves, then season with a little salt. It will seem like a lot of onions, but they reduce right down. Cook over a high heat for 5 mins, stirring often. The onions shouldn’t brown yet, just start to soften. Lower the heat, then cook slowly for 35 mins, uncovered, stirring often until the onions have reduced right down and are very soft.
  2. While the onions are cooking, bring the wine to a boil in a small pan, then bubble away for 30 secs. Remove and leave to cool. Tip the flour into a small heavy pan and toast over a medium heat for a few mins, stirring occasionally, until light brown in colour. Set aside.
  3. When the onions are very soft and reduced, turn up the heat so they caramelise, then cook for another 12-15 mins, stirring along the bottom of the pan occasionally to mix in the brown sticky bits. When the bottom of the pan and all the onions are sticky and a rich brown colour, stir in the flour. With the heat still high, gradually pour in the wine, again stirring in the bits from the bottom. Pour in 1.2 litres of cold water. Stir in the bouillon, then slowly bring everything to the boil. Skim off any froth from the surface. Simmer for 15 mins so all the flavours can mingle.
  4. While the soup simmers, make the topping. Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Mix the garlic and the oil together. Brush all over the bread slices, then cut each one into cubes. Scatter over a baking sheet, then bake for 8-10 mins until golden. Set aside. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or a sheet of non-stick silicone. Remove the leaves from the remaining thyme sprig, then mix with the grated Parmesan. Scatter and spread over the lined baking sheet into a 13 x 8cm rectangle. Bake for about 8 mins until melted and turning golden. Remove, leave to firm up, then snap into jagged pieces.
  5. To serve, remove and discard the herbs from the soup. Ladle the soup into bowls – scatter over a few croutons, the Gruyère and a grinding of pepper, then perch a Parmesan crisp on top. Serve any remaining croutons separately.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, February 2009

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Lizzzzy's picture

made this tonight ,really really tasty ! will defo be on my menu from now on ,thank you

falesia's picture
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I have had this for yesterday dinner, yesterday tea, and am about to have it now for dinner again! It's utterly delicious.

I made three slight alterations. In Angela's "The Ultimate Recipe Book" it recommends stirring the onions for 20-25 minutes, then turning them down really low and just leaving them for another 15-20 mins. So that's what I did.

Her book recipe also uses beef consomme, which I didn't use (beef consomme??? We don't get a lot of that in Lancashire :) )

And I didn't use croutons, I smashed a clove of garlic into some butter, buttered a slice of rye bread, grated parmesan on the top then grilled it. I put the bread in the bowl first, then poured the soup on top of it.

Beautiful recipe--going to make this for when people come round.

katie_besson's picture
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amazing soup and amazing recipe. i was so happy with the result, the flavor is so delicate. I actually thought that I will not be able to cook this at home after I ate it in the restaurant.

drpjcooper's picture
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Really, really good

asmith119's picture
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thumbs up.