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LivingFood and DrinkGay Cook's Classic French Onion Soup 

Gay Cook’s Classic French Onion Soup 

by Gay Cook  

Serves 4 – 5

This traditional French onion soup is a favourite any time of the year but especially the comfort it brings on a chilly day or night. The secret of this soup is the slow cooking of the onions to create its depth of flavour then the addition of dark beef stock or ale. One can often find beef stock in butcher shops. I have included a recipe to make a beef stock using beef knuckle bones found at butcher counters or stores or in the freezer.

The soup is attractively served in 6 earthenware or ovenproof soup bowls

Onion Soup

  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) butter and 1 tbsp (15 ml) canola or live oil
  • 5 large or 6 medium peeled sweet onions, thickly sliced
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1Ž4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
  • 4 cups (1L) beef, chicken or vegetable stock, or 1 L can of bottle dark ale
  • 1 or 2 stems fresh thyme or 2 tsp (10 ml) dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) fresh or dried thyme
  • Season with salt to taste
  • 1/4 baguette or Country-Style loaf, cut into 3/4-inch (4 cm) thick slices,
  • 1 – 2 tbsp (15 – 30 ml) melted butter or olive oil to brush slices
  • 1 to 11Ž2 cups (375 ml) grated Swiss Gruyère cheese
  1. In heavy saucepan, melt butter with oil on medium-low heat. Add onions and cover for 5 minutes until onions are wilted, stirring several times.  Stir in garlic and cook 2 minutes. Uncover and raise heat to medium-high and continue to cook 30 minutes. Stir in maple syrup stirring frequently for 10 to 15 minutes until onions are rich golden colour.  Stir in stock or ale, thyme, vinegar and gently simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes (never boil which can make the soup cloudy) and onions are very soft. Season to taste with salt.
  2. Meanwhile cut the bread slices, so they can fit neatly on top of the soup in the bowls. Toast bread slices or bake in the oven until golden and crisp. Brush with melted butter.
  3. To serve, place grated cheese thickly on the toast. Preheat oven broiler to melt cheese. Preheat soup bowls with boiling water; empty then ladle hot soup into the heated bowls. Fiteach bowl of soup with toasted bread. Place bowls about 4-inches (10 cm) under the broiler until cheese is bubbly about 3 or 4 minutes. Serve soup hot.

Beef Stock

  • 1 kilo beef bones especially the knuckle bones
  • 2 large onions with the skins left on as the skins produce a dark dye
  • 2 whole carrots
  • 6 cups (1 L 500 ml) cold water
  • 2 bay leaves and 1 tbsp )15 ml) dried or fresh thyme leaves

Combine ingredients in stock pot. Bring to a simmer to gently cook at least 3 hours. Drain and chill or use for soup.

To Readers: if you have any questions about this recipe or anything else related to food, please feel free to email me: <>.




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