Tuesday, November 15, 2011

French Onion Soup with a Kick

I am not a French Onion Soup connoisseur. I rarely order it in restaurants. It's odd. You would think with my love of caramelized onions and cheese that it would be one of my favorites. Well, now it definitely is.

I had to make some executive decisions. These decisions may mean that this soup is really no longer French. But, you can't argue that there are a ton of onions and similar flavors. I just kicked it up a notch. I have always felt that the typical French Onion Soup is a bit flat. One note.

Umami - as Food Network has put it (thanks to Kikoman, I believe...). As much as I love that flavor, for me it's a flavor that is better when accented by one or more other, more distinct flavors - such as sweet or spicy.

So, I kicked it up a notch by adding just a hint of spice to the herb I was highlighting. When brainstorming what herb to pick I landed on sage, even though it is somehow not a popular herb in French Cuisine. I felt that sage had that umami flavor that French Onion Soup has, but it also has a slight bite to it.

To emphasize that bite I stepped even further away from French flavor profiles and went with a small dash of crushed red pepper. I found this to compliment the strong onion and beef flavor and give it a fresh, new dimension. I hope you try and enjoy!

French Onion Soup with a Kick

  • 4 Yellow Onions
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 Teaspoons Crushed Red Pepper
  • 8 Leaves Fresh Sage
  • 1/2 Bottle Red Wine
  • 2 Tablespoons Flour
  • 2 Containers Beef Broth
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • 1/2 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Baguette
  • Gruyere Cheese
  1. Melt butter and oil in large frying pan on medium low heat
  2. Chop onions into quarters and slices
  3. Chop sage (leaving 1/4 aside), and flakes into small bits
  4. Grate garlic and add all to frying pan
  5. Stir on medium low heat up to one hour, making sure they don’t burn, add oil as needed
  6. Add wine, bring to boil and reduce to simmer, 20 minutes
  7. Sprinkle in flour, stir until mixed
  8. Cut baguette into bite sized chunks, sprinkle with paprika and remaining sage, toast
  9. Move onion mixture to stockpot on low heat
  10. Add broth, salt, and pepper
  11. Bring to simmer, reduce for at least 10 minutes
  12. In oven safe bowl add toasted baguette pieces and soup, top with a slice of Gruyere cheese and broil for 5 minutes until bubbly


  1. I think adding some Herbes de Provence would keep it on the trditional side while still kicking it up. Great post! I do love the idea of taking onion soup to the next level. You're right that at a lot of places it's just so very one note.

  2. I will have to try that next time! I usually get a little bit of Herbes de Provence from my mom (I think she must get it in bulk at Costco). I just happened to have fresh sage and decided to go with that and then just kept going with it. I am slightly addicted to crushed red pepper... :)

  3. Hi, there - I was looking for an email address here to send you some information about a food project I'm working on that I thought you'd be interested in (even though you're busy with your book right now). If you'd like to know more, could you shoot me a note over at saray [at] lemkeanderson [dot] com?

    Thanks very much,