Healthy French Onion Soup
When it comes to a healthy French onion soup, you could be forgiven to think that it hasn’t got that much to offer in terms of nutrients, with its comforting clear broth, no variety of vegetables, “just” onions and the gooey cheese toast topping. Well, you’ll be pleased to know that it is in fact a highly nutritious choice. Onions, as part of the Allium family, contain Quercetin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and should not be overlooked as a vegetable when considering your daily 7-a-day.
Furthermore, if you’re able to make a bone broth from scratch, using beef bones (preferably organic) from the butcher, the clear broth will make this healthy french onion soup a perfect immune booster and will also provide collagen for joint and skin health. However, buying a ready made stock will also provide good nutrients and will of course be a convenient time saving option.
For a vegan or vegetarian option, a vegetable broth works very well, although you will need to take the time to carefully cook the onions; very gently for a long time to ensure that they are truly caramelised for added depth and flavour. It’s definitely worth the time to make this Healthy French Onion Soup!
I’ve included some variations that will boost this soups nutritive value further.
Note: Don’t be alarmed at the amount of onions at the outset – they will soon reduce to a more manageable amount!
Making this Healthy French Onion Soup, you’ll need:
- 10 medium onions or 6 large Spanish onions, finely sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- Olive oil/Butter combined for frying
- 1 tsp Himalayan or fine Sea Salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard plus more for cheese toasts
- 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 litre Stock (Beef or Vegetable, fresh or made from stock cubes)
- 4 sprigs of Thyme, preferably fresh otherwise 1 tbsp dried Thyme
- 50g Emmental/Gruyere/Parmesan cheese, grated
- 4 thin slices (stale) whole grain bread
In a large saucepan, gently heat the olive oil and butter mixture taking care not to allow it to overheat and smoke
Sauté the onions over a medium heat for 5mins on their own until they begin to soften, then add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper.
Reduce the heat and allow the onions to cook for approximately 30-35 minutes, uncovered, until they are soft and a golden caramel colour. If they have yet to turn colour, turn up the heat for the last 5 minutes, stirring often and taking care that the onions do not burn.
When the onions are ready, add the mustard, balsamic vinegar and stock.
Bring to the boil then cover, reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Turn off the heat to allow the flavours to infuse
Before serving, remove bay leaf and thyme stalks
Meanwhile, toast one side of the bread under a grill until golden. Turn over and spread a thin layer of Dijon Mustard on the toast and top with grated cheese.
Grill for a minute or so, until the cheese is melted and slightly browned
Ladle the soup into individual soup bowls and serve with a cheese toast on the top and ground black pepper
- For a more exotic spiced version of this healthy french onion soup, consider adding a cinnamon stick, 2 star anise and a ¼ tsp nutmeg to your broth
- For a hearty fibre-rich meal, add 3 tbsp Pearl Barley with the stock
- For added decadence, Shitake mushrooms will work well, adding depth and flavour to your stock. Add them in once the onions have caramelised with the other ingredients. If you’re using dried, rehydrate in a little warm water and use this as part of the stock
As part of the Allium family, along with leeks, shallots, garlic and chives, onions have long been associated with numerous medicinal benefits. They are a very good source of vitamin C and B6, iron, folate, and potassium and are known to provide cold and flu relief with its anti-inflammatory properties.
They are also high in phytochemicals; plant derived nutrients, specifically the antioxidant Quercetin, which accounts for the reputation onions have for disease prevention.
Luckily, cooking onions in soup doesn’t reduce their Quercetin value as it simply transfers to the broth. The flavonoids in onions are more concentrated in the outer layers, so discard as little as possible.
For more details on how onions can help with overall health, CLICK HERE
- For another of nature’s powerful anti-inflammatories, Turmeric is one to consider. READ MORE