French Onion Soup

Today we are tackling perhaps the most divine of all onion dishes. French Onion Soup. I do not claim to be an expert in either cooking or consumption of such, but as my husband is a BIG FAN! (all caps) I figured what the heck. Besides, all this week Fine Cooking is showcasing soup soup & more soup and after their big soup “tweet up” yesterday on Twitter, I was feeling particularly inspired. And hungry. Very very hungry. This is my low sodium take on their classic French Onion Soup. I’ve eliminated the salt (of course!) and substituted sliced Swiss cheese for the aged Gruyère. If you have the opportunity to make beef stock from scratch, I highly recommend doing so. The simplicity of French Onion Soup truly showcases the richness of the broth, so use the very best you can. Since I was pressed for time, I opted for Kitchen Basics Unsalted Beef Stock, in my opinion the tastiest salt-free stock available. The one thing I didn’t skimp on?  BREAD. That’s right; I used a real French baguette. I KNOW! I know! It’s salted. But sometimes, once in a while, you just need to go WILD. This soup, even with the bread, is still low enough in sodium to be enjoyed without guilt. But for an ever lower sodium meal, substitute your favorite salt free bread for the baguette.  Then go ahead and savor each melty, heavenly bite.

Yields 8 servings.

SODIUM CONTENT:  309 mg per serving


4 T. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, more for the baking sheet
4 med/lg red or yellow onions, thinly sliced (to yield 8 c.)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp. sugar
1 small French baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices (4 oz.)
8 c. unsalted beef stock
1 bay leaf
8 slices low sodium Swiss cheese


Melt the butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Stir in the onions and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Reduce the heat to low.

Press a piece of foil onto the onions to cover them completely, cover the pot with a lid, and cook, stirring occasionally (you will have to lift the foil), until the onions are very soft but not falling apart, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the lid and foil, raise the heat to medium high, and stir in the sugar. Cook, stirring often, until onions are very deeply browned, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the baguette toasts, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a rimmed baking sheet and arrange the slices on the sheet in a single layer.

Place sheet on the middle rack in oven and bake until bread is crisp and lightly browned, turning once, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.

Add the broth and bay leaf to the caramelized onions and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.

To serve, position oven rack 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler to high. Place 8 ovenproof soup bowls on a baking sheet. Arrange bread slices in the bottom of each bowl

and ladle the hot soup on top.

Top each bowl with a slice of Swiss cheese.

Place soup under broiler and broil until the top is browned and bubbly, 2 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

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13 Responses to French Onion Soup

  1. Christy says:

    Duh! Had the comments turned off all day – just got home and realized. If anyone has anything to share, please do!

  2. Kate says:

    I tried making onion soup once but it was so salty that I haven’t wanted to, since. Your French Onion Soup looks just delicious. I’ve got to try it this weekend. Thanks, Christy, for sharing your disability turned great asset. You certainly know how to turn lemons into lemonade, figuratively and otherwise. Kate

  3. Christy says:

    Aww Kate, thank you so much! Such a sweet thing to say and I really hope you enjoy the soup. We sure did! 🙂

  4. um…i sometimes order this soup in restaurants even though i don’t like onions. i pretty much eat the cheese and bread…and some of the broth. awesome! love the photos!!

  5. Christy says:

    Thanks Nat!! Forget the little toast rounds, I think French Onion Soup would be even better served in a bread bowl. Take advantage of every morsel! (Do I sound like a glutton or what?)

  6. Kate says:

    Made the onion soup last night with the stove fan on to pull out the aromatic fumes that overpowered my small house. When I took the dog out for his last pee run, the yard smelled yummy, like a restaurant. I was flattered to enjoy what my neighbors, who might be outside 10 o’clock at night, MUST be envying about the delights cooked in my kitchen. This even[ng we had a wonderful bowl of French Onion soup baked under the broiler with bagette and Swiis cheese as you suggested. It was FAB, just FABulous. So much better without all that sodium. Low-sodium Swiss cheese on this soup is too bland for the guys in my household; they don’t appreciate the bite of Swiss cheese in its less processed state. Either way, the French Onion soup you shared through this venue is dynamite. Keep those recipes coming, girl. Kate

  7. Christy says:

    That is AWESOME!! SO glad you enjoyed it as much as we did. And thanks so much for sharing! I’ll keep trying my best, I promise. 🙂

  8. Kate says:

    We finished up the soup today with my brother-in-law exclaiming, “This recipe is a keeper! I hope you make this onion soup often.” I used Swanson’s beef broth since it’s the only brand in 32 oz size here at Hannaford Supermarket. Just the same, the soup is worth many times until we overdo its deliciousness. Kate

  9. Christy says:

    Wonderful, Kate! I’m so glad it’s been such a hit – that makes me very happy!!

    PS: A NOTE!! for everyone near a Trader Joe’s market. I just got back from shopping there and found the most MARVELOUS shredded cheese blend — Swiss and Gruyere — only 55 mg of sodium per 1/4 cup! The perfect topping for so many things and likely sensational on this soup. If anyone tries it, let me know!

  10. sodiumgirl says:

    Miss Dishy! I am so excited about this and was going to tackle French Onion Soup today! Thanks for the inspiration. I’m gonna let that meat broth reduce and also coming up with a cheese/bread-less substitute.

    You’re the greatest.

  11. Christy says:

    Hey SG! Wonderful!! Hope you enjoy it – and best of luck w/ the modifications! PS: Please send some sunshine our way from Cali!! 🙂

  12. Kate says:

    Made Onion Soup for us, again, last night, for us to enjoy several times this weekend. So easy to make. Thank you for the inspiration. Kate

  13. Christy says:

    You are so welcome, Kate. So glad you’ve found such a “keeper” !!

    Have a wonderful weekend. 🙂

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