French onion soup is a timeless classic, perfect for vegetarians and cheese lovers alike. The perfect starter for Christmas dinner, or a perfect meal within itself.

So you can imagine, I was thrilled when Chef Poul, from our cooking holiday in Brittany, sent over his version for me – it is minimalist, simple, cheap and perfection in a bowl. As Poul himself says,

“French Onion soup prepared and served the traditional way is hard to beat – especially on a cold, wet, winter evening!”

Follow these simple steps and taste for yourself…

35 minutes / Serves 4-6 people


4 medium Roscoff onions cut in half and sliced into 3mm slices (regular onions can be used too)
50g butter
1 tbsp plain flour
200ml dry white wine
1.5 litres boiling water
salt & pepper
1 teaspoon of sugar if needed to taste
1 very small clove of garlic (optional)
To serve:
12 slices of baguette cut into 1cm thick slices
150 gram of grated Comte cheese (or a similar cheese like Emmentaler)


red and white onions in a frying panPut a large non stick pan on the stove and melt the butter without browning, add the onions and soften them for 5 minutes and stir frequently, season with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees.

Caramelise the onions by continuing to cook them for 20-30 minutes to achieve an even, rich brown caramel colour (remember to stir every 2 -3 minutes to preventing burning).

Sprinkle the flour on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 8 minutes or until very lightly brown, then stir in the flour into the caramelised onions and mix thoroughly.

French onion soup cooking in a panGradually stir in the white wine and one third of the boiling water. Whisk well and add the remaining water. Bring to the boil, skim off any impurities from the surface and simmer for 15 minutes.

Taste and correct the seasoning. Add the sugar if needed along with a tiny bit of garlic.

Serving suggestion

bowl of French onion soup with cheesy croutons

Soup with cheesy croutons

Arrange the bread slices on a baking tray and sprinkle two thirds of the grated cheese over them.

Place under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes to melt and slightly brown cheese.

Serve the soup with the croutons on top, and serve extra cheese separately.


If Poul’s soup has got your mouth watering, you can find more information about his French cookery holiday in Brittany here, which runs from March to November.

Or feel free to browse our full range of cookery holidays here.