French Onion Soup

3:10 pm on 29 August 2014

The secret to a great French onion soup is to thoroughly caramelise the onions, use a good-quality stock and add lots of Riesling. Like all good things, this recipe takes a bit of time – the onions take about an hour to caramelise and develop their natural sweetness. If you are in a hurry, you can microwave the onions for about 15 minutes (after 5 minutes cooking in the pan) and they will cook down much more quickly. Add a splash of water or some of the wine to them to assist the process.

Serves 6


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1.5kg onions, sliced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1.2 litres Riesling
  • 2 litres (8 cups) beef stock
  • 50ml Cognac
  • 6 baguette slices, cut on an angle, grilled on one side and topped with grated cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley


Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy-based saucepan and stir in the onions, bay leaves and peppercorns. Cook over a low heat for about 1 hour until the onions are golden and caramelised, then stir in the wine and stock and continue to cook gently for about another hour.

Preheat the grill. When ready to serve, check soup for seasoning and stir in the Cognac. Pour into oven-proof bowls and top each with a baguette slice, cheese side up. Place under the hot grill to brown and bubble the cheese. Sprinkle parsley over the baguette slices and serve.

Reproduced with permission from Simon Gault Modern Classics by Simon Gault. Published by Penguin Group NZ.

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