When you think of French cuisine it’s hard to not conjure images of posh, high-end restaurants that serve rich, decadent meals. However, one of the mainstays of French cuisine, onion soup, or soupe à l’oignon, actually comes from quite humble beginnings. While the modern version originated in Paris, France in the 18th century, onion soup actually dates back to Roman times where it was a soup usually reserved for the poor because of how easy to come by onions were at the time.
Making a classic French onion soup might be scary. Perhaps it’s just the fact that it’s French that worries us, amateur chefs. But, it’s not nearly as scary as it sounds. French onion soup is made with a thick broth, deliciously sweet and indulgent caramelized onions, and a cheesy crouton topped with gooey, lovely melted shredded cheese.
But, if you decide to take the plunge and cook it yourself, you may wonder what to serve with French onion soup. You can pair many things with it like steak, salmon, salad, or even a sandwich!
Read on to learn the best accompaniments for your french onion soup recipe.
- 1 Best Sides to Serve with French Onion Soup
- 2 Best Desserts to Serve After French Onion Soup
- 3 What Bread Should You Serve with French Onion Soup?
- 4 Best Cheese to Use for French Onion Soup
- 5 Best Wine to Serve with French Onion Soup
Best Sides to Serve with French Onion Soup
As much as I love French onion soup, it doesn’t seem to keep me full for a very long time. So it’s usually necessary to serve it alongside something to make it a more substantial meal.
But, as I mentioned before, it can be paired with any number of dishes making it a great soup to serve with a wide variety of different dishes. Here are some of my favorite dishes to serve with French onion soup. I’ve included some main dishes, salads, and side dishes.
Roast chicken is a classic dish. The rich, savory taste of a well-roasted chicken is hard to beat. The flavor goes perfectly hand-in-hand with French onion soup.
Would you prefer something lighter? How about seafood?
Scallops, in particular, are a great pairing with a bowl of French onion soup. Searing scallops to perfection is the key to making them taste irresistible. Butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper are all you need. You will need 2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter and 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet or saute pan. Then just lightly sear them on both sides. Easy as that!
Baked salmon is another seafood that works nicely with French onion soup. This fatty pink fish is very delicious.
It’s not too heavy and wonderfully balances off the soup’s richness. Furthermore, this recipe is really simple to prepare. Simply season with garlic, bake, and enjoy!
If you’re thinking of something even lighter than seafood, then a salad is your best bet. Let’s begin with a tasty appetizer or side dish.
A green salad is a crisp, refreshing, and healthy dish with mild yet wonderful tastes that works well as a side dish for nearly any cuisine. You can’t go wrong with soup and caesar salad.
Another salad, but arugula has a much more distinct taste.
The sharper, slightly bitter taste can stand in contrast to the rich, creaminess of the French onion soup which can make it an interesting combination that keeps your tastebuds guessing!
Potatoes are one of the most versatile side dishes. But, when it comes to pairing with French onion soup, my favorite style is scalloped potatoes.
Grilled Chicken Pesto Panini
Of course, you enjoy melty cheeses, particularly white gooey cheese (you probably wouldn’t be cooking French onion soup otherwise, right? So, in that case, a great side dish to French onion soup is a grilled chicken pesto panini. You get even more cheese, but with a different taste and texture.
Mozzarella cheese is gentler than the heavier Gruyère cheese used in your soup, so don’t be concerned about it being overpowering. What you want to savor here is the divine combination of the sandwich’s Ciabatta bread and pesto sauce and your delectable soup.
Best Desserts to Serve After French Onion Soup
It’s important to end on a strong note, am I right? Then, you should make sure to finish with one of these fabulous desserts to wrap up a delicious meal.
Chocolate Creme Brulee
Creme Brulee is extremely easy to make, rich in texture, and full of flavor, this is such an amazingly delicious dessert that’s a great pairing with French onion soup. The only downside is that maybe it’s too decadent after a rich, hearty French onion soup.
Lemon Ricotta Cake
Lemon ricotta cake is a great dessert to serve after French onion soup because it’s fresh and light which can be a nice way to finish up a rich, creamy meal of French onion soup.
What Bread Should You Serve with French Onion Soup?
While the bread isn’t quite as important as the cheese, as you’ll see shortly, but it’s still a crucial part of the dish. French onion soup without the right piece of toasted bread on top is like wearing running shoes without socks. Sure, you can do it, but it’s just not quite right.
I personally love a crusty, chewy sourdough boule or toasted baguette that has some tangy flavor. But you can use any homemade or artisan bread that you like.
The flavor of French onion soup can stand up to other flavors, so garlic bread with a baguette is great. A very simple way to toast bread is to slice it, drizzle it with olive oil, and toast it in the oven until it is crisp.
A crispy bread slice is traditionally placed on top of the soup, topped with grated cheese, and heated under the broiler until the cheese is hot and bubbly. The soup should be served with bread that’s substantial enough to soak up the soup without falling apart.
Best Cheese to Use for French Onion Soup
While there are different types of onion soup that may require different ingredients. However, if you’re making classic French onion soup, then there is only one type of melted cheese that you should use: Gruyère (pronounced like ‘groo-yehr’). It’s a semi-hard yellow Swiss cheese that’s named after the place it was created Gruyéres, Switzerland. So there’s no need to be intimidated by its fancy name.
Gruyère cheese is perfect for French onion soup because of its taste and texture. The taste profile of Gruyère will vary depending on its age. Young gruyère cheese has a creamy, nutty, salty flavor character, whilst aged Gruyère has a more earthy flavor profile. The average age of a Gruyère is five to twelve months. It may usually be found in the deli department of most supermarkets.
The taste profile of Gruyère is well-known, and it melts quickly, but it is not the star of the show, making it an ideal cheese for baking. It doesn’t overpower the lovely caramelized onion taste in French onion soup; rather, it adds a little creaminess and gooey melted sweetness on top.
However, it may happen that you need to substitute the cheese for whatever reason like the supermarket didn’t have any in stock, perhaps. While it’s very difficult to perfectly replicate Gruyere cheese, there are a few substitutes that can bring something similar to the dish.
To substitute Gruyére, use any semi-hard, yellow Swiss cheese to approximate the intended taste as closely as possible in a classic dish. If you can’t find Gruyére, Jarlsberg, Raclette, or Beaufort will suffice.
Best Wine to Serve with French Onion Soup
If you’re a wine connoisseur or just interested in the occasional glass, you’ll be pleased to know that there are quite a few varieties of wines and other drinks that pair nicely with a bowl of French onion soup.
You can choose white wine or red wine or even other drinks like sherry, cider, or even beer. And if you want non-alcoholic options, ginger ale and iced tea are great drink accompaniments. Let’s get into some specific types of wine though, shall we?
There are quite a few options here. For the time being, let’s skip Burgundy (French Chardonnay) and Alsace (which are classic wine pairings for French onion soup). Instead, there are some more overlooked types of wine from the Loire Valley. Chenin Blanc is an excellent choice for this recipe. This wine has a slight sweetness, especially if you pick a Demi-sec (off dry) style. This works because the onions generate a mild sweetness. These wines also have an earthiness to them, which complements the umami of the veal stock. Finally, the acidity ranges from Med+ to High, which can assist in cutting through the savory components of the butter and cheese.
Some other good pairings include:
- Sauvignon Blanc
Red wine is also a great option. Keep things simple by sticking to Burgundy! Pinot Noir is an excellent choice for this dish, and we don’t need to go too particular or elaborate. Wines with low tannins that strike a balance between flavor and earthiness will complement everything in this dish. With a veal stock that’s even stronger with butter, you need more acid than tannin. The sweetness compliments the fruit, and the umami complements the earthiness that Burgundy can bring.
Alternatively, you can also choose:
- Spatburgunder (German Pinot Noir)
- Pinot Noir (Oregon or California)
If wine isn’t your thing, some more refreshing options include cider or beer. The fizziness and slight acidity of a cider make it perhaps even my favorite pairing of them all! But, if you’re more fond of beer, a great pairing would be a brown ale or another variety that’s not too light, too dark, or too bitter.