• Onion soups have always been popular, but French onion soup is the true pièce de résistance as far as liquid starters go. You can’t fail with this easy and delicious appetiser.

    Recipe by Leila Saffarian

    Photograph by Roelene Prinsloo 

    French onion soup

    Serves: 4 - 6
    Cooking Time: 35 mins


    • 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
    • 8 onions, thinly sliced
    • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 10ml (2 tsp) cake flour
    • 180ml (¾ cup) dry white wine
    • 2L (8 cups) beef stock
    • 250ml (1 cup) water
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 6 baguette slices
    • 125ml (½ cup) Gruyère or Parmesan, grated



    Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions, thyme and bay leaves and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and deep golden brown in colour.


    Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes. Add the beef stock and water. Season and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.


    While the soup simmers, preheat the oven to 200°C. Arrange the bread on a baking tray and toast the slices, turning over once, until dry and crisp.


    Remove the toasted slices (croûtes) from the oven and scatter with grated Gruyère. Place under the grill for 1 – 2 minutes until bubbling and golden.


    Ladle the soup among bowls and serve each bowl with a croûte.