This French Onion Soup recipe from Jean-Christophe Novelli is an easy way to master a French classic.

At Novelli at City Quays in Belfast, Jean-Christophe's first restaurant on the island of Ireland, this French onion soup is served with a twist: a pastry lid atop the bowl replaces the classic cheesy croutons. Here, Jean-Christophe has given us a more traditional recipe for this Mediterranean-inspired dish. 


For the soup:

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1kg red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, stalks removed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 750ml dry white wine
  • 350ml strong beef stock, hot
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the croûtons:

  • 1 baguette
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 180g Gruyère cheese, sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of paprika


  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan with the oil and gently cook the onions for about 6–8 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add the herbs and seasoning, sprinkle over the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the onions are melting and glossy.
  3. Pour in the wine and raise the heat. Bring back to the boil and simmer to reduce for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the hot stock, bring back to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. When you are ready to serve the soup, preheat a grill. Slice the baguette diagonally and dry-fry in a heavy-based pan without oil or butter. While it is toasting, rub a clove of garlic on the bottom of the pan to infuse the bread.
  6. When the baguette pieces are golden brown, top with the sliced cheese, grind over the pepper, sprinkle with the paprika, and grill for 2–3 minutes (or microwave for 10 seconds) until the cheese is bubbling.
  7. Just before serving the soup, add the lemon juice and stir.
  8. Ladle the soup into hot bowls and top with the cheesy croûtons. Serve immediately.

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