French Onion Soup

onionsOne of the most nutritiously dense foods is bone broth or sometimes called bone stock. Cooking bones overnight imbibes the broth with minerals from the bone and marrow. I make broth from beef, elk, turkey and chicken bones. I use some of the broth right away to make soups or sauces but freeze the rest so I can make French Onion Soup. If I don’t have enough bone broth available, I call Mike from Backyard CSA and order some of his stocks. He makes beef, seafood, fish and poultry stock and delivers it to your door if you live in Sonoma County. Broth and stock are very similar and the words are used interchangeably. Sticklers will say that stock is made from bones and trimmings and broth is made from bones, trimmings and meat.

I discovered when I was eating in a restaurant I could order French Onion Soup without the croutons and cheese and have a very nutritious Paleo meal. I recommend Underwood Bar and Bistro in Graton, French Garden in Sebastopol and Costeaux French Bakery in Healdsburg if you want great French Onion Soup in Sonoma County.

The chef at Underwood prepares the French Onion Soup with three different kinds of bone broth. Curious, I looked in my French Cookbook, “Glorious French Food”, by James Peterson to see how French Onion Soup is made.


5 pounds of onions, preferably red
4 Tablespoons butter
10 cups of broth (Any combination of Beef, chicken, turkey, etc.)
1 medium-size bouquet garni


Peel and slice the onions as thin as you can. This is easiest with a plastic vegetable slicer, called a Mandolin or Benriner cutter. Melt the butter over medium heat in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot large enough to hold the sliced onions. Add the onions and stir every few minutes over medium heat until they often and release liquid, about 15 minutes. At this point, you can turn the heat to high to reduce the liquid, but keep a close watch and stir every minute or two so that the onions don’t scorch. When most of the liquid has evaporated, after about 15 minutes, turn that heat back down to medium and keep stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to keep the caramelized juices from burning. When all the liquid has evaporated and the bottom of the pot is coated with a shiny glaze, after 5 or 10 minutes, pour in 1 cup of broth and turn the heat to high. Stir the onions, again scraping off any caramelized juices that cling to the bottom and sides of the pot. When the broth completely evaporates and again forms a brown glaze on the bottom of the pot, add the rest of the broth and the bouquet garni.

Gently simmer the soup for 10 minutes. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot so that the caramelized juices dissolve in the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the bouquet garni.

Voîla! Your Paleo French Onion Soup is done.

If you want to add the bread cubes and cheese for guests or non-Paleo people I will give you the second half of the recipe.

Cube French Sourdough bread, preferably without yeast added
Bake on a sheet pan at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Grate Swiss Gruyere, Brie, Cheddar, Comté or some other full-flavored firm cheese.

Ladle hot soup into soup crocks or soufflé dishes. Sprinkle half the cheese over the soup and distribute the bread crumbs over the cheese. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Put the crocks on a sheet pan and bake them at 400 degrees until the cheese bubbles and turns light brown, about 10 minutes. You can also make the crocks ahead of time, refrigerate and warm up later. When reheating bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

Some chefs add fortified wines such as Madeira or port to the caramelized onions. This gives the soup a note of sweetness, and in the case of Madeira, a pleasing nutty complexity.

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