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Almost-Classic French Onion Soup

15 January

Serves 4

The traditional version calls for beef stock, but here the full-bodied flavor is imparted by herbs. Serve it with croutons or garlic bread.

One bouquet garni (recipe follows) with additional herbs of choice; rosemary, marjoram, dill, coriander seeds, celery seeds (1 sprig fresh, or 1 tsp dried)
4 – 6 cups sliced onions
2 teaspoons olive oil
pinch of sea salt
6 cups water or vegetable stock
salt, soy sauce, or light miso to taste
sliced scallions ( green and white parts) or minced fresh parsley or chives  for garnish

BOUQUET GARNI: 3 bay leaves, 12 peppercorns, 10 – 12 stems of parsley, 1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried), 2 – 3 whole cloves garlic; wrap in cheesecloth and tie tightly to make a nice bag of herbs. Set aside.


  1. In a large pot, sauté the onions in the oil over medium-low heat. Add salt to prevent sticking, and stir frequently. Cover the pot and leave slightly ajar. The onions should sauté for 30 minutes to one hour (the longer the onions cook, the more intense the flavor – I suggest cooking the full hour, it is worth the wait!). They will reduce to about one third of their original volume and become sweet and golden.  Make sure to check them now and then, giving them a gentle stir to help them cook evenly.
  2. Add the water or stock along with the bouquet garni. Simmer at least 30 minutes.  Season with sea salt, soy sauce, or miso. (If using miso, make sure the soup is turned off before adding it. The high heat kills the good bacteria in it that is so good for our GI tract.) Garnish with scallions, fresh parsley, or chives.