French Onion Risotto

You can probably see where I’m going with the name of this recipe, right? My French Onion Risotto takes the wonderfully savoury-yet-sweet flavours of the classic soup and makes them into a much more satisfying meal. Well, in my opinion at least.

You used to see French Onion soup on menus everywhere. Well at least you did when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s. Since then it seems to have fallen out of fashion and is probably considered a bit naff. I find that a bit of a shame. I’d much rather have French Onion soup to start a meal than some of the weird and wonderful offerings you often see. What’s not to love about breaking through a golden cheese crust to find a rich, brown broth beneath? It certainly beats bowl of generic orange liquid and limp dinner roll.

I should probably remind you at this point that I’ve never been a fan of soup in general. As such I am not an impartial judge in this matter. Indeed it’s entirely possible that I only like French Onion soup because of the cheese on toast element. The fact it comes with soup beneath may be entirely incidental. Though as soups go I find it hard to fault. It may be brown and watery but the flavour is where the complexity can be found. You can tell that a lot of time and effort has gone into every mouthful. The onions have turned from raw and harsh to sweet and mellow. They’ve become golden whisps floating in a dark pool. I’ll stop there before this paragraph gets any more ridiculous!

So, French Onion soup tastes good and comes with cheese. It’s already winning. But at the end of the day it’s just “soup” and that’s not a meal in my books. Of course, if you’re happy to stop after the first stage of the recipe below and enjoy the soup as is then you won’t be disappointed. Indeed, I had enough surplus stock and onion to make a small bowl of soup each as a starter the next day. However, if you’re hungry and want a deliciously savoury risotto then keep on reading down the recipe.

The very liquid nature of French Onion soup lends itself perfectly to a risotto. It’s essentially a rich beef stock in which to cook the rice and boy does it work well. As you can see from the photos every grain has taken on a wonderful brown colour. The stock holding them together is rich and dark – every mouthful is rich with that soup flavour. The caramelised onions on the top are sweet and unctuous. Oh, and it comes with cheese on toast as a garnish. What’s stopping you?



French Onion Risotto

This French Onion Risotto takes the wonderfully savoury-yet-sweet flavours of the classic soup and makes them into a much more satisfying main meal. The rice is dark and rich, with melt-in-the-mouth onions throughout. Oh and there’s melted cheese too… what’s not to love about that?
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Risotto
Servings: 2
Calories: 876kcal

Ingredients

For the Soup

  • 25 g Butter
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 500 g Onions About 3 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp Soft Brown Sugar
  • 2 cloves Garlic peeled and crushed
  • 100 ml Vermouth
  • 1 litre Good Quality Beef stock

For the Risotto

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 50 ml Vermouth
  • 150 g Arborio Rice
  • 500 ml Stock from Soup hot
  • 200 g Cooked Onions from Soup

For the Croutons

  • 6 slices Baguette toasted
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 75 g Gruyère grated

Instructions

Make the Soup

  • Melt the butter and olive oil together in a large stock pot over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until starting to brown and soften.
  • Add the sugar and stir well, then reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 20-30 minutes until caramelised. Remember to stir the onions often, as you want them to caramelise rather than burn.
  • Turn the heat up to medium then add the garlic to the pan. Cook for a further minute or so until fragrant. Pour in the vermouth, followed by the beef stock and bring to a simmer. Loosely cover then cook for a further 30 minutes.
  • When cooked allow to cool and store covered in the fridge until needed, or continue straight away with the next stage.

Prepare the Croutons

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
  • Brush the slices of bread with the olive oil, then bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and crisp.
  • You can do this whilst the risotto is cooking if you prefer.

Make the Risotto

  • Separate the onions and liquid of the onion soup. You’ll need around 500ml of liquid and 200g of onions from the soup. Depending on how much your soup has reduced this will either leave you with a couple of portions of soup, or some lovely caramelised onions you could use in other recipes.
  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan over a medium-high heat. Add the rice and stir it through the oil and allow to cook for a minute or so, until the ends of the grains have turned slightly translucent. Pour in the vermouth, or wine – it will bubble vigorously but you want to keep stirring the rice constantly until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Add a generous ladle of the stock to the pan, whilst continuing to stir the rice constantly as it absorbs the liquid. When almost all of the stock has been absorbed add another ladle to the pan, and so on. You may not need all of the stock – so proceed with caution to avoid making the risotto too wet. It should take around 18 minutes for the rice to be cooked through.
  • When the rice is almost cooked, but still retaining a little bite add half of the onion mixture to the pan and stir through the rice. This will add some moisture to the risotto and may affect the amount of stock required in the last couple of minutes, so do bear that in mind.
  • When the rice is tender and cooked through remove from the heat, then divide the mixture between two heat-proof bowls. Top with the remaining onion.
  • Pre-heat the grill to high. Sprinkle the grated gruyère over the toasted croutons and grill for 2-3 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve on top of the risotto, with a little more grated cheese (because you can never have too much!). 

Notes

If you prefer you could always melt the cheese onto the croutons and risotto using a chef’s blowtorch. This is my preferred method as our grill can be a little bit slow to heat up and doesn’t always delivered the desired result.
It’s also possible to make this vegetarian or vegan, by omitting the butter, swapping the beef stock for a rich vegetable stock and replacing the gruyère with a non-dairy cheese.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Estimated Values per Serving
Energy3,665kJ
876kcal
Fat26g
of which Saturates13g
Carbohydrates111g
of which Sugars16g
Fibre6g
Protein30g
Sodium1,674mg
Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.

Scott Silverthorn

Hi, I’m Scott. I love cooking food and I love eating it - both useful credentials for writing a food blog! I get a lot of joy from sharing my passion with my friends and family, so here's hoping you enjoy it too.

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