Simple Onion Soup

Simple Onion Soup

This simple onion soup recipe can be the foundation for a variety of tasty soups and stews. 6 basic ingredients make this one come together with minimal effort, and is a great way to take advantage of onions on sale at the local grocery store.  You can even make this much more hearty by adding various protein options… beef chuck, chicken thighs, or firm white fish like monkfish or cod all make excellent additions.

I use MSG in this recipe for a few different reasons: first, it’s easier and more space-effective to keep MSG on hand in your pantry. Second, it results in the soup having a clean onion flavor and keeps it vegetarian if you are into that. This recipe could even be vegan if you swap out the butter for olive oil.

If you hate the idea of using MSG you can swap out that ingredient and the water for an equal amount of stock. But before you get your pitchfork out, read about why I love MSG.

Simple Onion Soup
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 240 minutes
Serves: 4 people


4 tablespoons butter

2 very large onions, or 6-7 medium onions [1000 grams], cut into 1/4 inch slices

8 cloves fresh garlic [32 grams], sliced

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon herbs de provence (or italian seasoning)

3 cups water

1/2 teaspoon msg


500 grams beef chuck, chicken thigh, or firm fish such as monkfish or cod (plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt)

Croutons or toasted bread, and shredded cheese (gruyere is traditional for french onion soup, but swiss cheese, jarlsberg, or monterey jack work well too)


Melt the butter in a medium sized stock pot. Add the sliced onions, sliced garlic, salt, and herbs de provence.

Saute at high heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until the edges of the onions are just starting to turn golden. If using one of the protein add-ins, sprinkle the meat/fish with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and sear in a hot pan until browned all over. No need to cut the protein into chunks, just sear the pieces whole. The long, slow cooking process we are using will break the protein down until its very tender. Add the seared protein to the pot.

Turn the pot to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The onions will create their own broth, and will not start to turn that lovely deep golden brown until about 2 hours. Be diligent, it will happen.

After 3 hours, add the water and the msg, and simmer for another hour., 4 hours total. If you used any protein, break it apart with your stirring spoon.

Now is where you get to be the master of your own onion-soup-destiny. If you like your onion soup thick and hearty (like me,) just taste for salt and adjust at this point. If you like your soup to be a bit thinner, add water and adjust the salt until it’s the way you like.

If you want to broil some cheese on top, divide the soup into 4 oven-safe crocks, and put croutons or toasted bread on top. Pile lots of shredded cheese on top of the floating bread, and place under a broiler or use a blowtorch to brown the top.

Keep being better at cooking...

Keep being better at cooking...