Three Onion Soup

As much as I enjoy onion soup, I’ve never made it until recently. For whatever reason, I had a belief that it took significant effort.

A few months ago I spotted an onion soup recipe that caught my eye — the onions were baked at low temperature for a lengthy time, caramelizing them. From there the onion went into stock and shortly thereafter it was soup.

Ok, I didn’t make that recipe, but it stirred me to read a bunch — it got through the [skull] bone that onion soup is easy to make.

I started with a very simple recipe (sweat the onions, add seasoning & stock) to more extensive versions. Today’s recipe is not the end of this journey, but it’s a milestone.

Note: onion soup is typically beef based. The original French recipes I read are chicken based, so I’m been experimenting with chicken stock.

Three Onion Soup

  • 1 large sweet onion, ends & husk removed
  • 1 leek, white only, well rinsed
  • 2 large shallots, root-end & husk removed
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt & ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 quarts chicken stock

Cut the onion in half, then in half again. Slice in quarter in 3/8″ to 1/2″ slices. Separate the pieces.

[Note: I find long, stringy pieces of onion to be messy to eat, so I sort of chunk the onion.]

Slice the leek and the shallots in 1/4″ slices. [No need to separate the pieces.]

Melt the butter with olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Stir for 3 to 5 minutes, then reduce heat to very low. Sweat the onions for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

[Note: I used about 1/4 tsp each of seasoned salt and ground Sichuan pepper. The thyme and parsley are approximate.]

Turn the heat to medium and sprinkle the flour on top. Stir the flour in and cook for 3 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to very low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Note 1: Any stock can be used: chicken, beef, vegetable, or fish/seafood.

Note 2: Thyme works great with chicken stock. I’ve tried basil and oregano, which were good, but not as good as thyme. When I try this with beef stock, I’m going to try Herbes de Provence.

Note 3: The leek and shallot are not necessary, and the soup doesn’t taste that much different with them … but it gives the soup a snazzier title!

Note 4: I have done the French Onion Soup route — toast a thick slice of bread, float it in a flame-proof soup bowl, sprinkle with Gruyere cheese, and broil to melt the cheese. I’ll eat it that way in a restaurant, but don’t own flame-proof bowls and simply don’t bother.

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