Helping families eat healthier for less

Helping families eat healthier for less

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

French Onion Soup in Paris Most Memorable

French Onion Soup

The theme for Recipe Redux this month is to reflect on a most memorable vacation meal. Well, I’ve had several memorable dinners in recent years but the most memorable meal that is freshest in my mind is a delectable, scrumptious French onion soup that I enjoyed with my sister-in-law and friend in Paris just this past May.

I spent a week in Paris with my brother and sister-in-law. My sister-in-law and I spent one day checking out the Palace of Versailles. While there, we met a woman from Arizona traveling by herself in Paris. We buddied up with her all day and she joined us for dinner that evening. I had only two full days left to see Paris and I had yet to eat French onion soup. We ate dinner at a restaurant only a couple of blocks from our hotel near Notre Dame. My onion soup was to die for. The broth was full of flavor, it had lots of onions and the melted cheese and bread on top were broiled to perfection. I was in heaven.

I helped to make a French onion soup only once before when I spent a month in Switzerland for a culinary program where our class had to cook dinner for about 100 students at Shiller University every Monday night, under the direction of their chefs and staff. I learned then that the secret to a fantastic French onion soup is to cook the onions for a long, long time.

After checking a variety of onion soup recipes, I decided to use a method of baking the onion slices in the oven instead of cooking them on a range top. Both methods take a long time, but with the oven method there is less “hands-on” time. I was extremely pleased with my final result. The soup had tons of flavor. The toasted bread soaked up the broth and was delectable, especially with melted gruyere cheese on top.

Here are some prep photos:

Here is the actual recipe.

French Onion Soup


3 lbs yellow onions, peeled
Non-stick cooking spray
¼ cup canola vegetable oil
½ tsp salt
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
¼ cup dry sherry or dry white wine
2 tsp reduced sodium beef base (such as Better Than Bouillon)
4 springs fresh thyme or 1 Tbsp dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
½ tsp ground black pepper, or to taste

1/2 French baguette, cut in 6 (3/4-inch thick) slices
3 oz Gruyere cheese, grated using large-hole grater


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut onions in half and then each half into ¼-inch slices. Spray large Dutch oven with cooking spray. Add onions to pot; then add oil and salt. Stir to blend well. Place pot in oven, covered, for 30 minutes. Carefully remove pot form oven and stir well, scraping sides. Return to oven and continue to cook, covered, for another 30 minutes. Carefully remove pot from oven and stir again. Return pot to oven with lid slightly agar and continue to cook for another 90 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes.

After 2-1/2 hours total oven time, carefully remove pot from oven. Place on range top over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently until liquid evaporates and onions turn brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. May need to stir constantly, scraping sides and bottom of pot, towards the end of the cooking time to prevent onions from burning. Stir in chicken broth, water, sherry, beef base, thyme, bay leaf, and pepper. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat to simmer and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly toast baguette slices until just golden brown; set aside.

After soup has simmered for 30 minutes, remove bay leaf and thyme. Divide soup into 6 broiler-safe bowls or crocks. Place bowls on baking sheet. Top each bowl with 1 toasted baguette slice and sprinkle with 1/6th of cheese. Adjust oven rack so top of bowl is about 1 to 2 inches from broiler heating element. Broil just until cheese is melted and golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Makes 6 servings (about 1-1/3 cups each without the cheese bread).

Nutrition Information per Serving: 315 calories,14 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 16 mg cholesterol, 4 g dietary fiber, 12 g protein, and 470 mg sodium. One serving of this low cost recipe provides an excellent source of vitamin C and calcium and a good source of folate and vitamin B-6.

Cost per Serving: $1.89 Pricing Note: all ingredients were at “regular” prices.

Click here to download and print this French Onion Soup recipe.

For sake of comparison, I did a nutritional analysis of both my version and Julia Child’s version (found in The Way to Cook) of French onion soup. Julia’s version used butter and olive oil, 5 tablespoons brandy, 1 cup of French vermouth, Swiss cheese and parmesan cheese. Of course, her version had more butter, alcohol and cheese than mine.

French Onion Soup
Julia Child’s
Dr. Barb’s
Total fat
15 g
14 g
34 mg
16 mg
1456 mg
470 mg
Dietary Fiber
4 g
4 g
20 g
12 g

The biggest difference, as you can see, between Julia's and mine is in the total calories and sodium.

Be sure to check out these other vacation memorable meals. get the InLinkz code


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, JeJe. It actually looks very similar to the soup I had in Paris. Enjoy.

  2. Hi there. The current Food on Friday is all about onions! So it would be great if you linked this in. This is the link . Wishing you very happy Holidays!

  3. Dr Barb, thank you for linking this in to Food on Friday. We are now starting to get quite a collection of onion dishes together. Do stop by some of the other links to check them out!

    Ps I have just signed up to follow your blog on Google Reader. A follow back to Carole's Chatter would be wonderful – or have you already followed? Cheers