Recipes » Main Dish Recipes » Soups and Stews » English Onion Soup

English Onion Soup

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English Onion Soup offers a lovely variation on the classic recipe with a combination of chicken stock, sage, and sharp cheddar.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
A bowl of English onion soup.

English Onion Soup offers a lovely variation on the classic French recipe with a combination of chicken stock, sage, and sharp Cheddar. It’ll warm you from the inside out on the coldest winter day!

It has been so cold here lately. Really, really cold. At least for me.

A bowl of English onion soup.

I grew up in south Georgia where three snowflakes make the local newspaper front page. I was not meant to live on the tundra. My idea of sweater weather is anything below 72 degrees.

Dealing with cold weather just wears me out. You have to wrap up head to toe to go outside. Then get all that stuff off again when you come back in. Ugh. Just give me flip-flops year round and I’d be happy.

On cold, miserable days, I really need something warm and satisfying. And what could be better than a lovely warm bowl of onion soup? With buttered toast and melted cheese on top. Yum.

Now, you’re probably thinking of rich beef broth, golden soft onions, gruyere cheese…not this time! This is an English Onion Soup with chicken stock for a base, sage for the seasoning and lovely sharp Cheddar cheese.

I ran across a similar version of this soup years ago, and I knew immediately that it would suit my palate much more than the classic. Not that I don’t love the classic French onion soup, I do! But this version really pleases me.

What You’ll Love About This Recipe

  • COMFORTING! This delicious soup warms you from the inside out!
  • INEXPENSIVE For the cost of a few onions, you’ll have a delightful main course soup. Even cheaper if you make your own stock.
  • DELICIOUS What’s better than caramelized onions, toast, and melty cheese?

Equipment You’ll Find Useful

You’ll need a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pan, a good sharp knife and cutting board, along with oven-proof bowls for serving.

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About the Ingredients

Ingredients needed for English onion soup.
  • Onions (I like to use a mix of white, red, and green onions for a richer flavor. However, you can make this soup with all the same onion and any kind that you have on hand.)
  • French Bread (Use any thick cut bread that you like.)
  • Chicken Stock (Homemade is always best, but purchased stock works just as well.)
  • Sage (You’ll need one little sprig of fresh sage for the recipe.)
  • Cheddar Cheese (Use any kind – white or yellow, mild, sharp, or extra sharp.)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make English Onion Soup

Prepare the Onions and Sage

I prefer a variety of onions in this soup for a richer flavor. I typically use a few red onions, yellow onions, and some green onions. But anything you have on hand is fine! You could even include a few leeks and shallots.

Prepare the onions by peeling and slicing the red and yellow onions into half moons and chopping the green onions.

Roughly chop the fresh sage, reserving a few leaves for garnish.

Add Ingredients to Pan

Place the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. When melted, add the onions, sage, salt and pepper. Stir well to coat everything with the butter and oil.

Cook Slowly

Onions after slowly cooking for one hour.

Reduce the heat to low and place a lid on the pan leaving it slightly ajar. Cook for 50 to 60 minutes without coloring the onions too much.

Remove the lid and continue cooking for about 20 minutes more until the onions become soft and slightly golden. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

TIP: Don’t rush the cooking of the onions. It’s very important to allow them to cook “low and slow.” Cooking at too high a temperature can result in burnt onions with an acrid taste.

Add Stock to Onions

Just before the cooking time is up, place the stock in a pot on the stove and bring it to a simmer.

When the onions are soft and slightly browned, add the hot stock, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Finish with Toast and Cheese

While the soup is simmering, prepare the toasts. Cut 8 one-inch thick slices of bread and place them on a baking sheet. Spread each slice generously with butter. Place under the broiler until they are golden brown and crisp.

Place 8 oven-safe bowls on a baking sheet and ladle soup into each. Top each dish with a slice of toasted bread and a generous amount of grated cheddar. Sprinkle the cheese with just a few drops of Worcestershire sauce.

Toss the remaining sage leaves with a few drops of olive oil and place one on top of each dish. Place the baking sheet under the broiler until the cheese is nicely melted and bubbling. Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven. Serve hot.

Tips and Variations

  • Take your time and be patient when cooking the onions for the soup. Cooking them for a long time at a low temperature will result in lovely caramelized onions that impart a glorious flavor to the finished recipe.
  • Use a variety of onions for best flavor. Add some garlic if you like.
  • Substitute bacon fat for the butter and olive oil.
  • To make a vegetarian version of this soup, use vegetable stock in place of chicken.
  • Substitute the Cheddar cheese with Swiss or Gruyere.
  • Change the herb to thyme and/or bay leaf.
  • Use a good, sturdy country loaf of bread for the toast.
  • Substitute 2 cups of the stock with a pale ale or lager for an increased depth of flavor.

FAQs

What’s the difference between French onion soup and English onion soup?

The two soups are very similar, yet quite different. Both make use of slow cooked, caramelized onions. However, the French version always uses beef stock, baguette, and Swiss or Gruyere cheese. The English version uses any type of stock (beef, chicken, or vegetable), with any sturdy bread, and Cheddar cheese. They’re both equally delicious!

What makes this soup particularly “English”?

I suppose that the most English ingredient in this soup is the Cheddar cheese. Other than that, it’s simply a different version of the classic onion soup.

What is onion soup called in France?

Onion soup in French is Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée.

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Recipe

A bowl of English onion soup.

English Onion Soup

English Onion Soup offers a lovely variation on the classic recipe with a combination of chicken stock, sage, and sharp cheddar.
5 from 6 votes
Print It Rate It Save Text It
Course: Soups and Stews
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 515kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds onions a good mixture of red, yellow and green preferable
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 8 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 8 slices French or Italian bread
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese white or yellow
  • Few drops Worcestershire sauce
  • Few drops olive oil

Instructions

  • Prepare the onions by peeling and slicing the red and yellow onions into half moons and roughly chopping the green onions.
  • Roughly chop the fresh sage, reserving a few leaves for garnish.
  • Place the butter and olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. When melted, add the onions, sage, salt and pepper. Stir to coat with the butter and oil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and place a lid on the pan leaving is slightly ajar. Cook for 50 to 60 minutes without coloring the onions too much.
  • Remove the lid and continue cooking for about 20 minutes more until the onions become soft and slightly golden. Be sure to sure occasionally to prevent sticking
  • Just before the cooking time is up, place the stock in a pot on the stove and bring it to a simmer.
  • When the onions are soft and slightly browned, add the hot stock, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes.
  • While the soup is simmering, prepare the toasts.
  • Slice 8 one-inch thick rounds, place on a baking sheet and spread each generously with butter.
  • Place under the broiler until they are golden brown and crisp.
  • Place 8 oven-safe dishes on a baking sheet and ladle soup into each. Top each dish with a toasted bread round and a generous amount of grated cheddar. Sprinkle the cheese with just a few drops of Worcestershire sauce.
  • Toss the remaining sage leaves with just a few drops of olive oil and place one on top of each dish.
  • Place under the broiler under the cheese is nicely melted and bubbly.
  • Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven.

Notes

Ingredients:
  • I like to use a mix of white, red, and green onions for a richer flavor. However, you can make this soup with all the same onion and any kind that you have on hand.
  • Use any sturdy, thick cut bread that you like.
  • Homemade stock is always best, but purchased stock works just as well.
  • You’ll need one little sprig of fresh sage for the recipe.
  • Use any kind of Cheddar – white or yellow, mild, sharp, or extra sharp
Tips and Variations:
  • Take your time and be patient when cooking the onions for the soup. Cooking the for a long time at a low temperature will result in lovely caramelized onions that impart a glorious flavor to the finished recipe.
  • Use a variety of onions for best flavor. Add some garlic if you like.
  • Substitute bacon fat for the butter and olive oil.
  • To make a vegetarian version of this soup, use vegetable stock in place of chicken.
  • Substitute the Cheddar cheese with Swiss or Gruyere.
  • Change the herb to thyme and/or bay leaf.
  • Use a good, sturdy country loaf of bread for the toast.
  • Substitute 2 cups of the stock with a pale ale or lager for an increased depth of flavor.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 515kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 1484mg | Potassium: 539mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 470IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 279mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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A bowl of English Onion Soup on a serving plate.

— This post was originally published on January 11, 2011. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.

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Recipe Rating




33 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I used all of your tips to improve on the recipe, and ended up making the best English onion soup of my life! Thank you, Lana!