French Onion Soup for the Non-Purist (So, Onion Soup)

The face of beauty.

About a month ago, Troy and I got to go on a food theology retreat with some people from our church. It was a lot of delicious food, the wine and whiskey were flowing, we spent an hour+ in the company of an onion; it was, in all, a lovely time. Plus I got in a 2-hour nap that I really, really needed.

You’re probably thinking, wait, go back; an hour in the company of an onion? What the hell does that mean? It means that we spent an hour lovingly engaging with the beauty, taste, smell, feel, and sounds of an onion. If you have ever read The Supper of the Lamb by Robert Farrar Capon, he begins the work by directing the reader through an hour with an onion. You begin by addressing the onion (greeting it), then spending time, taking it apart, layer by layer, feeling and smelling and tasting each part. It was a really special time to slow down and contemplate an object that is both food and art equally. We finished up our time of reflection by slicing each layer of the onion separately, collecting the slivers for a scrumptious onion soup. Let me tell you, no Onion Soup has ever been more lovingly prepared. Each sliver was pared with tenderness!

We had so many onions that not all of them made it into the soup, so I took home a pound and replicated the soup we made, only with vegetable broth, not chicken. Here’s the recipe, I hope you enjoy it!

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pound of onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
  • 1Tbs. butter
  • 1 Tbs. whole-grain or dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups vegetable broth or stock of your choice. If you want to make it more like an authentic French Onion soup, beef broth is traditional
  • Shredded Gruyere cheese (for topping)
I love to let the onions caramelize a bit; adds a nice bit of charcoal-y bite to the soup.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil, adding sliced onions and shallot when the oil begins to shimmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir often. When the onions are about halfway done (the edges should start to look translucent), add the butter and mustard, stirring often. When onions are fully cooked, deglaze the pot with 1/2 cup of white wine, give the pot a good stir, then add all 6 cups of broth. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Top with shredded Gruyere and serve with a side of crusty sourdough bread! I recommend homemade bread, and if you don’t have time for sourdough, here’s a great almost-no-knead recipe that my priest recommended to me, and is completely delicious! It uses beer and vinegar to achieve the flavor of sourdough, without all the work. My priest and I both recommend apple cider vinegar; it’s the best.

Oniony goodness!

Bon appetit!

Here’s a picture of the finished loaf. Not too dense.