This cream of onion soup is a popular French variation of the classic, French onion soup.
However, this soup is smooth, elegant and much easier to eat than with a large piece of bread in it, so I've served it with small crispy croûtons instead.
The onions are slow cooked with a hint of celery, until they are soft and sweet, before the stock is added. The soup is then blended and enriched with cream before serving.
This soup is perfect for entertaining, as the recipe is straightforward and can be made in advance. Better still, the flavour is light and subtle, making it a delicious soup all year round.
My French neighbours always seemed to be besotted by soup. Everyone has a little potager or vegetable garden. Typically people grow onions, leeks, peppers, melons, pumpkins and salad vegetables and they hate waste! Hence, they do eat a lot of vegetarian food, although very few people are vegetarian.
Soup is also often eaten as a main meal, whereas in the UK it is more often a lunch or a first course.
It's so easy to buy a can of soup or make it from a packet, but soups are often simple to make, often freeze well and make perfectly satisfying comfort food.
Why you will love this recipe
- Easy to make in advance.
- Can be frozen.
- Simple ingredients.
- Great all year round.
- Elegant and delicious.
- Onions - yellow onions are the most widely available in the UK and are perfect for this recipe.
- Celery - gives a subtle flavour to the soup.
- Stock - chicken stock, preferably reduced salt.
- Cream - double or heavy cream.
- Oil - vegetable oil or olive oil.
- Butter - for flavour. Keep in mind that if you are using salted butter then you need less seasoning at the end.
- Flour - plain or all purpose flour to thicken the soup.
- Pepper - my preference is freshly ground black pepper, but use white pepper if you prefer in a pale soup.
- Salt - flaked sea salt to taste.
See recipe card for quantities.
- Large saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- Blender or stick blender
- Sharp knife
Peel and slice the onions and celery finely.
Heat the oil and butter over a medium heat then add the celery and onions.
Stir well and place the lid on. Reduce the heat to medium/low.
⏲️ Cooking Time
Cook for about 10 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally and replacing the lid.
Sprinkle the flour over the onions, stir and cook for 1 minute.
Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer.
Cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes until the onions are really soft.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Use a stick blender or use a stand blender to liquidise until smooth.
💭 Top Tip
- If you are using a stand blender it is best to fill it only half full if the liquid is hot. It has a tendency to increase in volume and spill over the top.
Return the soup to the saucepan and add the cream and pepper.
Warm through and check the seasoning in case you need to add extra salt or pepper.
How to make croûtons
If you want to make croûtons, and let's face it, who wouldn't, then they are easy to do.
Take two slices of bread and cut off the crusts.
Cut into slices then cubes of about 1 cm or half an inch.
Put the oil and butter into a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the bread pieces.
Fry for a few minutes, turning regularly until they are golden.
Tip the croûtons out onto kitchen paper to drain before serving.
Pour the cream of onion soup into bowls and garnish with a little extra cream, a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley and croûtons.
🥗 More soup recipes
- Cream - use milk instead.
- Onions - use any variety except red onions as the colour will be unappetising.
- Vegetarian French onion soup - swap the chicken stock for vegetable.
- Vegan French onion soup - swap the stock for vegetable stock and the cream for plant based milk.
- Refrigerator - store covered in the refridgerator for up to 2 days if cream has been added or 5 days without the cream.
- Freezer - freeze in bags or containers before cream has been added for up to 3 months.
- To reheat - defrost overnight in the fridge then transfer to a saucepan. Warm through and add the cream.
In the UK supermarkets generally stock a range of onions. Most onions have been left to dry and are ideal to keep for some time, no matter what the date says. Just keep them in a cool dark place. My favourite spot is a ventilated box in the garage.
Yellow onions, also known as brown onions, are an all rounder that are very sharp when raw, but release their natural sugars when cooked. This is the type of onion I have in the kitchen all year round for soups, sauces, stir fries, pasta and curries. A great sauce with lamb is French sauce soubise or onion sauce or an onion tarte tatin.
Spanish onions are large, sweeter onions. They are more difficult to find, but are delicious raw or cooked. They tend to be more expensive, so I choose not to buy them generally.
Red onions are delicious raw in salads, for making chutney and using in kebabs. Perfect for summer eating in a Greek salad.
Shallots are an absolute essential in French cooking. I prefer the long banana shallots, as they are marginally easier to peel than the smaller round shallots. Sweet and delicious, they are perfect in sauces such as duck confit with redcurrant sauce.
Then there are spring onions, also known as green onions. The obvious choice is salads, but they go particularly well with fish, when you want the flavour, without overpowering the dish. Try salmon and broccoli quiche, poor man's lobster with thermidor sauce, or French peas.
Of course, farmer's markets and other shops will stock other varieties - I particularly love the red spring onions we used to get in France, but nowadays cost is an issue. The good old faithful yellow or brown onion is staple for flavour in most dishes.
More soup and starter dishes
Cream of Onion Soup
- Large saucepan
- wooden spoon
- Blender or stick blender
- sharp knife
- 4 sticks celery
- 4 onions medium brown
- 500 ml chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon flour
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Peel and slice the onions and celery finely.
- Heat the oil and butter over a medium heat then add the celery and onions. Stir well and place the lid on. Reduce the heat to medium/low.
- Cook for about 10 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally and replacing the lid.
- Sprinkle the flour over the onions, stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer.
- Cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes until the onions are very soft.
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
- Use a stick blender or use a stand blender to liquidise until smooth.
- Return the soup to the saucepan and add the cream and pepper.
- Warm through and check the seasoning in case you need to add extra salt or pepper.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article.
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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