How can you turn the all-time, classic French onion soup into a more Mediterranean version for your Christmas dinner? More vegetables, of course, olive oil instead of butter and herbs. This soup is the perfect starter for your Christmas dinner. Caramelized white onions, shallots, leeks bathed on white wine, beef or vegetable stock and crusty bread under a luscious layer of cheese. Truffle oil adds a bit of festive luxury that will be largely welcome. Not drooling yet? Your guests most certainly will.
Now, let’s talk details.
The combination of onions, shallots, and leeks offer a surprisingly delicious outcome. The strong-flavored onions and shallots are balanced by the milder almost delicate flavored leeks. Caramelize all of them until golden brown and enhance their outstanding flavor. This is the most time-consuming step in this recipe because until your veggies are golden brown, I strongly advise not to leave the kitchen but stir continuously. The rest of the recipe is mostly waiting time.
While I was researching about French onion soup, I found out that many famous French cookers don’t use stock in their star Michelin dishes. I totally get it! When you have in hand so many flavorful ingredients, you may easily skip the stock. Either way, those who follow my recipes know that I rarely use stock even for soups. Therefore, the stock is optional and in case you decide to use some, choose low sodium beef stock or vegetable stock for a vegetable (or vegan if you skip the cheese) version.
Now you have the choice to impress the heck out of people. Cheesy sourdough or French bread top. Raise your hand if you don’t like melted cheese over crusty bread (I know vegans waving wildly). Silence. So why not make it memorable and serve it right from the oven with bubbling or almost bubbling cheese on top? Go for it and please all senses like this. Smell: it will hit you hard first. Sight: so beautiful especially in small oven-safe ramekins. Hearing: hear the cheese bubbling in front of you. Touch: with your spoon or hands. Taste: do it and you will be hooked forever.
I usually use graviera, an exquisite Greek cheese but you may select French cheese like Comte, Cantal or Swiss Gruyere or Emmental, Cheddar cheese. Any of these choices are perfect for onion soup. It is mostly a matter of availability and price.
Truffle oil is not for everyone. I guess it is one of these ingredients that either you hate it or you crave for it like crazy. It’s either wowww or ewww. Therefore, I don’t recommend to include it in the main recipe. You may serve it and leave the choice to your guests. Some of them will highly appreciate your idea.
The only drawback of making this recipe is that everyone asks for more. You just cannot get enough. So be prepared and make a generous amount of it. Worst case scenario is to eat leftovers the following day. Not bad at all, if you ask my opinion.
Enjoy the first dish of your Christmas dinner with this luscious soup and tell me if you like it. Post your pics, follow me and tag me on Instagram to light up my day and Christmas holidays.
- 5 red or yellow onions, peeled and sliced
- 4 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
- 2 large white onions, peeled and sliced
- 200g leeks (the white part only), trimmed and sliced
- 2 small bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tablespoon dried thyme)
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dry white wine, Assyrtiko or Sauvignon Blanc
- 8 cups (2 liters) beef stock or vegetable stock, hot (optional)*
- Truffle oil, drizzle to serve (optional).
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Kosher salt to taste
- 8 slices sourdough or French bread, stale
- 1 cup (200g) Graviera cheese or other, shredded
- In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, shallots, leeks and season with salt and black pepper. Cook about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until caramelized meaning soften and golden brown. Add the thyme and bay leaves and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Reduce heat and sprinkle the flour over the onions-shallots-leeks, stirring continuously for 1-2 minutes until absorbed. Add wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced.
- Pour in the hot stock or water, bring to boil, then simmer for around 20 mins until the vegetables are completely soft. Discard the bay leaves and season to taste.
- Preheat the oven at 482°F (250°C).
- Ladle the soup into individual heatproof serving bowls. Add a slice of bread to each of them (to fit like a lid) and sprinkle evenly with cheese. Place them on a baking tray and transfer to the oven. Grill until golden brown no more than 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn it.
- Serve immediately while the cheese is still bubbling.
- Pair it with a fruity white wine like Viognier or Sauvignon Blanc.