French onion soup with thyme oil

Posted by Mishqah Schippers on 7 August 2019

Simple and wholesome, this recipe transforms cheap, plentiful onions into a rich, caramelised, cheesy soup pot that’s sure to warm you up on the coldest winter’s day.

Serves 6


5 fresh thyme sprigs
½ cup olive oil
3T butter
1,4kg onions, peeled and thinly sliced
7 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
6 slices French loaf, toasted
½ cup grated Gruyère
(or local Gruberg cheese)


Crush 4 whole thyme sprigs using a mortar and pestle.

Heat the oil and crushed thyme in a saucepan over medium-low heat, allowing the thyme to infuse in the oil. (The oil should not be so hot it ‘fries’ the thyme.)

When you can smell the aroma, remove from the heat, cool, then strain the thyme oil into a sterilised jar or bottle. Set aside.

Melt butter in a large, heavy- based pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and stir to coat with butter.

Leave the onion to cook for 40–50 minutes until deeply caramelised, stirring often so that it doesn’t ‘catch’ or burn.

Add stock, season to taste and cook for 10 minutes more.

Remove from the heat and ladle the soup into six ovenproof bowls.

Top each bowl of soup with a slice of toasted bread, and top this with some cheese.

Place under a grill for 5 minutes, until the cheese melts and bubbles.

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of thyme oil over each soup. Roughly chop the remaining sprig of thyme and use to garnish the soup.

Serve immediately.

** Use a large, wide pot rather than a narrow, tall pot to caramelise the onions. This gives the onions space to cook evenly and allows the juices to evaporate and concentrate, making the onions soft and golden-brown without stewing or burning.

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