French onion soup

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

French onion soup
The colors at the farmers' market have changed to greens, orange, and pale yellow. It will be months before we are graced again with the fiery reds and purples of heirloom tomatoes. On display at Happy Boy Farm were cippoline onions. A hearty French onion soup seemed like a good idea. I got it really right the second time after combining ideas gleaned from reading about 10 different recipes. My first attempt resulted in an anemic tan soup with chunks in it. You will like version two.

Servings: 4


  • 2 pounds onions, cut in half lengthwise, peeled, and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (every recipe I read used butter — I tried olive oil and it worked just fine with less saturated fat)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped (this is hard to do without getting little stems in the soup, but I couldn't tell by the time the soup was done)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I used a zinfandel which was a blend from the Dry Creek region, the Alexander Valley, and the Sonoma Valley — use whatever you want or use a dry white wine)
  • 6 cups broth, more beef broth (gasp — I rarely use beef anything but it matters in this soup) than chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional sliced baguette, Dijon and gruyere or some other cheese


The most time consuming part is caramelizing the onions, a crucial step. Use the deepest, largest diameter pan you have in the house. I used a large paella pan, which gives the most surface area to cook this huge mound of onions. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the onions, garlic and thyme, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes. Magically, the onions will start turning brown. Add the sugar and cook about another 10 minutes until the onions are nicely caramelized. This is important as it gives the soup its flavor. Add the flour and the Dijon mustard. Cook and stir a couple minutes. Add the wine and cook until it is almost all evaporated. Add the broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 30  minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Preheat the broiler. Toast some whole grain baguette slices. Spread them with Dijon mustard and top with some grated gruyere or cheese of choice. In heat proof serving bowls, ladle a serving of soup, top with the toasts, and broil until the cheese is melted. If you aren't sure about your bowls, simply serve the cheese toasts on the side. This could be perfect for a light New Year's Eve dinner. I wish you peace in 2007.

Nutrition Information (per serving)