French Onion Soup with Vegetable Stock. Voilà

A big bag of onions hiding in a cold larder is a call to soup, especially a comforting one such as Soup a´l’Oignon. French onion soup became popular in the 1960s and although it may seem retro to some, I have never stopped making this classic soup. Every winter I tweak the stock and have now settled on a flavoursome brown vegetarian stock, a good substitute for the beef stock used in the original. The key to a rich dark stock is to roast the vegetables first.

Brown Vegetable Stock.

Chop all the following vegetables into small chunks. Don’t peel the onions and the garlic.

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive oil.
  • 2- 3 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 3 onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • one medium-sized potato
  • 5 or more large dark fleshed mushrooms.
  • one tomato
  • two bay leaves
  • some parsley stems
  • other herbs from the garden
  • half a fennel bulb (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce.

Toss the chopped vegetables and toss them in the oil. Don’t add the soy sauce yet. Bake in preheated oven to 180°c for 30 minutes or so, occasionally moving and tossing the vegetables around. When ready, remove them and place in a large stock pot, covering well with water, around 3 litres.  Add the soy sauce. Bring to the bowl, reduce heat to low and cook for approx one hour. Strain into a bowl, pressing hard on the vegetables with the back of a large spoon to extract more flavour.

You will need only 1.8 litres of stock for the onion soup so freeze the rest.

Soupe a l’Oignon- for 6 servings.

  • 45 gr butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive oil
  • 700 gr onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1.8 litres boiling stock
  • 150 ml dry white wine
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brandy ( optional but very nice)

For the croûte topping

  • rounds of French or Italian crusty bread, toasted or baked
  • 120 gr or enough Swiss cheese to cover, cut into fine slices
  • grated parmesan cheese

In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter, add the oil and cook the onions slowly for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions need to colour a little but not brown. When done, sprinkle in the salt and flour.

Stir over moderate heat for 3 minutes, remove from the heat and add the boiling stock. Add the wine. Season to taste. Simmer for 40 minutes.

Correct seasoning. Just before serving, stir in brandy. Pour the soup over grilled bread and serve the cheese separately OR, after grilling or baking the bread, cover with the cheese, pop under a griller to melt, the place these in the base of each serving bowl, the cover with the hot soup. The toasts should rise to the top.

The next day, just as good.
The next day, just as good.

This recipe came from my old Margaret Fulton Book, re-purchased in Savers for 99 cents. I have adjusted the original imperial measurements to metric, changed the stock to vegetarian, and abbreviated the making of the bread and cheese topping.

Margaret Fulton inspired many home cooks during the late 1960s and continues to do so today, with her simple but precise versions of classic recipes. At the time, many of the recipes seemed quite sophisticated. I still often refer to her version of Crème Caramel, Mushroom Soup and her cake recipes. Thanks Leah, for including one of our leading lights of Australian Cookery in your series, The Cookbook Guru.

45 thoughts on “French Onion Soup with Vegetable Stock. Voilà”

  1. Wow, that broth looks and sounds amazing. I made French onion soup for the first time when I was 15 and taking French in High School! Our teacher was terrible, but she gave us recipes for onion soup, french bread and cheese souffle, all of which I made at that age and inflicted upon my family!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, actually, not so much. It was small town middle America mid-last-century and their tastes were not very broad and my cooking skills were not very developed. It was passable. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This was the recipe I cut my French Onion Soup teeth on, although in the bad old days I used stock cubes! I’m sure your stock tastes much nicer. A lovely wander down memory lane, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just used the left over veggie stock with some Quadrucci Pasta- so much flavour it can just be had as a simple broth with pasta.
      Good old Margaret Fultan- and what a life she has had too.


  3. Reblogged this on The Cookbook Guru and commented:
    Francesca has introduced us to her wonderful French Onion Soup, a classic, inspired by Margaret Fulton’s Cookbook. Make sure you check out her beautiful vegetable stock this recipe is based on.

    Happy Reading,



  4. Yeah! You used mushrooms! And the sage leaves I see in the picture were an inspired herb choice. I bet this vegetarian stock was as rich as any beef stock. Love onion soup. And, like Ardy, I also made this as a teenager in the US, but we were taught in school to use beef bouillon cubes – sacrilegious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We all used stock cubes then- it was the era of short cuts and escaping the chains of our mothers’ kitchens. Now after years of being liberated and having lives unlike our mothers, we return to styles of cooking that pre-date her ( well, some of us do). When we feel like it, that is!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. what a great 60’s cookbook – the cover really was cool – and how nice that you got that copy for .99 🙂 – anyhow, the soup looks really good – and I can see why you make it… mmmmm

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice recipe Francesca – I think I’ll do this one. Another one of yours which will be become a regular here. I practically live with 2 vegetarians so the repertoire needs to diversify. I haven’t eaten meat for a week now. I have few fave Margaret, and her daughter Suzanne Gibbs, recipes I return to. They’re reliable. But why go there when I have my sister’s wonderful recipes to call on. Thanks so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you so much Francesca for this amazing looking/sounding recipe. I adore onion soup, and can’t wait to try it with your veggie stock. Retro, yes it is, and in the best possible way. Grazie mille!!

    Liked by 1 person

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