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French onion soup

Serves   6
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 mins

"This recipe has been handed down (with lots of "individual interpretation" along the way) from our ancestors who arrived in Akaroa in 1840. We loved Mum's soup & asked her for her recipe. She, of course, didn't have one so we watched & wrote it down and now have our own yummy version to share."





  • 4 med-lrg onions - sliced thickish
  • 4 med-lrg onions - chopped finely
  • 3-4 cloves garlic - crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (¼ tsp if using dried)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 50 grams butter
  • 1.5 tablespoons plain flour
  • ½ cup red wine (white will also do)
  • 2 cups good quality beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon “Braggs” liquid seasoning (low salt soy will do if you can’t get this)
  • 2 teaspoons low salt/No MSG powdered beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar (this is optional)
  • 750ml water
  • 1 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
  • Pepper & maybe salt (depends on your stock)
  • French stick cut on diagonal into 1”/2.5cm rounds, 2-3 per person
  • Gruyere or Gouda for topping


  1. Put olive oil/butter into frying pan (butter for the taste, olive oil to help it not to burn). Add sliced onions. Use high setting for a very short time, just to get things started, then turn to a low simmer. Simmer for ½ - ¾ hour, gently stirring often. Onions should be clear and just starting to colour (but not browned).
  2. Add chopped onions, simmer for 5 minutes.
  3.  Add crushed garlic & thyme, simmer for another 5 minutes (be careful not to burn the garlic).
  4.  Add brown sugar and stir gently until it's mixed in. Sprinkle the flour evenly over whole pan, stir in gently until mixed in thoroughly.
  5. Add a slosh of the liquid mixture - just enough to make sure you get all the yummies from the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a large saucepan.
  6. Add rest of Liquid Mixture, stir a little to combine. 
  7. Add water & tomato paste, stir to combine. Bring to a gentle boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the wine taste has gone.
  8. Top with cheese & grill.


  1. Vary the thickness to your liking by adjusting the flour to liquid ratio.
  2. Double the recipe and freeze some in zip seal bags (air squished out).

Bon appétit