Feb 01 2010

Shortcut French Onion Soup (& Caesar Salad)

Published by at 5:59 pm under Lunch,Starters

While studying in Paris for a semester, I did as the French do: Ate whole baguettes smothered in Nutella for breakfast, enjoyed carafes of rose over lunch with a certain beloved roommate, and consumed regular dinners of bread and brie, washed down with a 99c bottle of Beaujolais from Monoprix. After two months of this my body began to rebel, and all I wanted was some jalapenos.

Even when my family came to visit over Thanksgiving and couldn’t wait to sample the brasseries, I begged them to take me out for Indian food. Naturally they refused, but I perused menus for the most non-French item listed, favoring large bowls of pasta (Italian!) and any meats that were not ham. Meanwhile, they ordered one more Salade Nicoise and Soupe a l’Oignon after another. 

I left Paris around Christmas of 2006, and it was only about two years later that I re-developed a taste for French Onion Soup, my former nemesis. I was out for brunch with my mother in San Francisco when she ordered it and offered me a bite. Tentatively, I accepted and all of the bad memories disappeared into the ether. 

Making the soup on my own came next, and I’ve relied on trial and error to get it right. But when in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to keep boiling what you’ve got: With more time to mesh, the flavors change tremendously. And for best results, pair with this Caesar salad from Cooking Light — I make it at least once a week.

Shortcut French Onion Soup


4 sweet onions, chopped

3 tbsp butter

2 cloves garlic, chopped

10 cups beef broth

1 and 1/2 cups white wine

1 splash vermouth (around 1/4 cup)

Thyme (a few sprigs)

1 petite baguette, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded (Or if you’re feeling cheap, sub parmesan or mozzarella)

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions and garlic in butter until cooked, or about 10 minutes. Bring broth, wine, vermouth and thyme to boil in large pot. Add onions to broth mixture and cook on low-medium heat for about half an hour, tasting along the way to see if flavors have combined. Serve soup into bowls, submerge 2 or 3 slices of bread, and top with cheese.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Shortcut French Onion Soup (& Caesar Salad)”

  1. SHon 09 Feb 2010 at 9:13 am

    I remember eating about one million goat cheese salads, too. YUM.

  2. Marilyn Dzielakon 23 Feb 2010 at 11:03 am

    Hi Olivia!

    Your food website is fabulous. Apparently you have gotten your talent for delicious tasting food and beautiful food presentation from your mother. She is must be so proud!
    David has been mentioning for a while that he wanted to have French Onion Soup for dinner sometime. Now I don’t have any excuses for not having a great recipe to try. I am going to make yours soon. Can’t wait to meet your assistant too! David enjoyed meeting him.

    Hope to see you soon and look forward to more innovative ideas!

  3. Livon 08 Mar 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Hi Marilyn, thanks for reading! It’s great to hear from you. Let me know if you try the French Onion Soup and how it works out — I’d love some feedback/tweaks!

  4. Davidon 22 Mar 2010 at 2:33 pm


    We just tried this out this weekend. It was fantastic!!!!! Not too labor intensive either. My assistant was cutting the cheese (and shredding it as well, we used Gruyere) while I was cutting up the onions and garlic. It went together very easily and Oh so tasty!! I served it with a enhanced ceasar salad and some Chardonnay. I’m so glad we tried it. We will definitely make this again. Thanks for a great recipe.


  5. Livon 22 Mar 2010 at 2:37 pm

    David, I’m so glad you liked it and the recipe came out okay! I haven’t had many testers yet so I appreciate the feedback 🙂 Thanks!