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French Onion Soup

First Published in the Amherst Citizen - Oonagh's Kitchen (Oct 26, 1999)

I am sitting at my computer looking out at a miserable wet day without even the redeeming feature of sunshine. The foliage has peaked here and with the wind and the rain, our yards are covered in leaves. Now, you all know you need to get those leaves up to keep your lawn and garden healthy over the winter. However, you also know it is one of the most deadly boring jobs to do and wet leaves are no ones idea of a fun job. Even the kids don't want to help because it's just not the same throwing yourself onto a pile of wet leaves. So treat yourself to a pot of French Onion Soup, gently simmering on the stove, filling the whole house with its wonderful, appetizing aroma.

This is a very easy recipe and freezes well. Many people have read of this soup and have frequently been disappointed when they get to try it. The best one I ever had (apart from my own) was in a small bistro in Paris on my honeymoon. Unfortunately, too many recipes are made using just bouillon cubes that only taste of salt. The traditional recipe is made with beef stock made from roasting beef bones and then simmering them in water for about six hours. Not something many of us have the time or inclination for nowadays. Try this. You'll be happy you did. Using this combination of herbs and flavorings creates a rich, tasty soup without homemade stock. Additionally, there is a far lower salt content in this soup because of the herbs, etc, than if just commercial beef stock was used. Note, I haven't included salt. Taste it and see first.


  • 1-1/2 lb. Ordinary yellow onions (about 4 huge) peeled, quartered and thinly sliced.
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4+ cloves garlic peeled and crushed
  • 1-1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/2 tsp dried thyme)
  • 2 bayleafs ) put in a coffee filter, folded closed, and tied with string
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 x 10 oz Campbell's condensed beef broth and 3 tins of water to make 40 oz (5cups)
  • 1/2 - 1 c white wine (or more stock)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1-2 tbsp brandy (optional)
  • 1 loaf French bread cut into 1" square cubes and dried out in 300° oven for about 10 minutes
  • 1/2 - 1 c grated Swiss cheese or mix of Swiss, smoked cheese and Parmesan
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1. Melt butter and oil gently in large pan, add onions and garlic, turn in butter, add sugar and stir. Cover with lid and leave to cook gently for about 15-20 minutes until onions are very soft. Increase heat, remove lid and cook until onions have turned a lovely rich golden brown color but not dark brown or burnt - about 15-20 minutes more. NOTE: onions will brown more rapidly in ordinary pan, but won't stick in non-stick pan. THE ONIONS MUST BROWN or the soup will be tasteless.

2. Add flour and stir in well.

3. Add broth with water, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, freshly ground black pepper, wine and filter with thyme and bayleaf.

4. Bring to gentle boil and turn down to a low simmer, cover and leave to cook for about half an hour depending on size of pan.

5. Once cooked, and just prior to serving, adjust seasoning and add brandy if desired.

6. Pour soup into individual ovenproof bowls, top with dried out French bread and scatter grated cheese on top.

Serve and enjoy this treat from Paris!

Oonagh Williams, proprietor of Royal Temptations, has a Culinary Arts degree, offers a Personal Chef service, teaches a variety of classes in International Cooking, and makes regular appearances on WMUR ABC Channel 9's Cooks' Corner. You can contact Oonagh at 603-424-6412.

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Last modified: January 26, 2000
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