French Onion Soup

go directly to the recipe

summary: recipe for French Canadian Onion Soup; (click on image to see larger view)

soup and salad Did I mention that the French Onion Soup we had the other night was fabulous? And it all came about because we found we had some Swiss cheese left over from making buckwheat crêpes. At first, we were considering whether we should have crêpes again. At the same time, I was leafing through the latest LCBO Food and Drink Magazine and saw a photo of onion and leek soup.

Onion soup… Let’s have onion soup!

Sure, we don’t have onion soup bowls but what does that matter?! We’re very good at improvising and discovered early on that pyrex bowls are extremely useful.

We also remembered that there were some slices of French bread in the freezer that we had been keeping for making stovetop stuffing. But we knew they’d be perfect for the croutons on top of onion soup. And there was some fabulous rich chicken stock in the freezer as well. We decided to make the soup with chicken stock instead of beef stock.

The recipe we use is loosely based on the recipe for “Les Halles Onion soup” in one of the Silver Palate cookbooks by Julee Rosso (which one, which one?? I never remember if it’s the red one or the white one…).

Okay, I just looked… the recipe is in the red one: The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook.

It calls for cognac and white wine – neither of which we had on hand. (We almost always have red wine but rarely have white wine.) So instead of cognac, in went a splash of T’s secret ingredient: rye whiskey.

Yes, yes, we know it’s supposed to be cognac. But didn’t I say that we didn’t have any cognac? Apparently, rye whiskey has often been substituted for cognac in our house. T says that as long as there is a good amount of vanilla tones (from being aged in oak), it works just as well.

And instead of dry white wine, he used dry sherry. See? It’s true. Necessity is the mother of invention.

More specifically, here’s how T made French Canadian Onion Soup:

French Canadian Onion Soup
based on a recipe in The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook


  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • splash Rye Whiskey (or cognac)
  • ½ tsp grainy mustard
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Tbsp unbleached allpurpose flour
  • 1 l chicken stock
  • splash sherry
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  • 2 thick slices French bread
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1 good shot of Swiss cheese, grated


  1. Heated butter and some olive oil in a big stock pot.
  2. Add thinly slice onions and fry, stirring every so often, until they start to colour.
  3. Added finely chopped garlic and stirred that around until everything is golden.
  4. Add a splash of T’s secret ingredient, rye whiskey, dried thyme, grainy mustard (I can’t say it often enough. Do make your own mustard!) and flour. Stirring often, cook for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the stock, sherry and salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered for an hour.


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In the toaster, lightly toast the bread and rub with garlic.
  3. Cut each piece in half and lay the pieces into 4 pyrex bowls. (Ladle a bit of soup into the bottom of the bowl if you want.)
  4. Liberally sprinkle cheese on top and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling.


  1. Ladle soup into two heated bowls.
  2. Float two croutons (cheese side up) on top of each bowl.

Serve with a green leafy salad and red wine.

crouton bowls This entry was posted in cookbooks, etc., food & drink, main course, posts with recipes on by .

* Thank you for visiting. Even though I may not get a chance to reply to you directly, I love seeing your responses and/or questions and read each and every one of them. Please note that your e-mail address will never be displayed on this site, nor will it ever be shared.

"Moderation" is in use. It may take a little time before your response appears. Responses containing unsolicited advertising will be deleted as spam (which means any subsequent attempts will be automatically relegated to the spam section and unlikely to be retrieved). For further information, please read the Discussion Policy.

3 responses to “French Onion Soup

  1. bing

    TWO croutons! Excellent idea.

    Do your croutons hold their crouton-ness after being in the soup? A very few times I’ve had restaurant onion soup where the crouton is still almost crunchy, but it’s usually soggy (maybe “soggy” is too harsh a term for something that is still pretty good!)

  2. MM

    Who cares about the right bowl and stuff! I’ve always like plating my good in unusual and bizarre vessels. I like the element of surprise or fun and could not care less if someone said it was the wrong bowl or what not. I’d send them packing to the nearest Mickey D.

    Saying that, I love onion soup but am super fussy about it. So many places mess it up so unless I really trust the quality and standards of the restaurant, I’d never order it. Like your, I think home-made is the best!

  3. ejm Post author

    In view of what you say, bing, perhaps using the wrong bowl is the right way to deal with the croutons then. We did an experiment to see if it made any difference whether there was soup underneath the crouton when it was being baked with the cheese on top. There really wasn’t any significant difference.

    I think it might be that we use really crusty bread AND it probably helped that the bread was a couple of day’s old so it was on the stale side. I wonder if restaurants use stale bread. Somehow I doubt it….

    And yes. Two croutons are always better than one.

    MM, we’re pretty fussy about our onion soup too. I’m so fussy that I’m not sure I would risk ordering it in a restaurant. And I couldn’t agree more heartily about not worrying about using the right vessels. The only reason I said anything was because French onion soup HAS to be put into the oven to finish it. None of our bowls are ovenproof. And our pyrex bowls are either way too small or way too large.


Post a Response

You must fill in the "response", "name", and "email" fields. Please rest assured that your email address will never be posted or shared. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam; learn how your discussion data is processed. Please note that the field for your website URL has been removed. For more information about what can (or cannot) be included, please read the Discussion Policy.