Onion soup with shallot-cheese crisps recipe

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Onion soup is one of the most warming and easiest dishes in the French culinary repertoire. Originally a poor man’s dish made only with water and onions, a version including croûtons, beef stock, and caramelized onions appeared in the seventeenth century. In this recipe I’ve added my own twists with garlic and fennel for extra depth. Toss in some small pickled onions at the end if you’d like a little sharpness to cut through the richness.

  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cooking Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes


  • 3 tbsp (40 g) butter
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped, green parts reserved
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1⅔ cups dry white wine
  • 6½ cups beef or vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp Marmite (optional)
For the Shallot-Cheese Crisps
  • 8 shallots
  • 4 thick slices of stale bread, cut into 1¼-inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 3 oz (80 g) mature Comté, Beaufort, or other strongly flavored cheese, finely grated
  • Salt
  • 12 small pickled onions (optional)
How to Make It
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat and add the white parts of the green onions, the yellow onions, and garlic. Cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the garlic and onions don’t stick to the bottom. When the onions are sticky, soft, and a deep golden color, sprinkle in the sugar and fennel seeds. Stir for a couple more minutes until the onions caramelize. Add the wine, stock, and Marmite (if using); cover; and simmer gently for 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the Shallot-Cheese Crisps
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Peel and halve the shallots, then separate the layers to create shallot “leaves.” Toss the leaves with the bread cubes and melted butter. Spread the cubes on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake for 15 minutes, shaking the sheet occasionally. The cheese should be melted and slightly golden on the edges.
  4. Taste the soup and add salt if needed. Ladle into serving bowls and top with the crisps. Sprinkle with the green parts of the green onion and the pickled onions, if desired. Serve immediately (the shallots go soggy in the soup).

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