Easy French Onion Soup (Alcohol Free, Veg, Keto, Paleo)

Sometimes I surprise myself with how flavourful a simple dish can be. With just a handful of ingredients and some heat you can put together a delicious meal that I could eat for days!

And I did eat this for days, because right after I had worked hard on perfecting this recipe J informed me that he does not like french onion soup and would not be eating any! :p

He was a good sport and did give it a try. But it was not for him. Not sure why, he just said he is not into the onion flavour. Which is fair. But to me this tastes so so good I just don’t get it?!

Something about caramelized onions in soup form, topped with crusty bread and melty cheese just makes my belly happy! How can anyone not enjoy it?!

Alcohol Substitute in Soup

Traditionally french onion soup is cooked with wine, helping to develop another layer of flavour to this simple soup. For those of us that don’t cook with wine, I have found a good substitute for wine in many dishes is balsamic vinegar. In some situations like in soups or stews, I like the additional flavour the balsamic adds to the dish. It worked well in my veggie bolognese too.

You could also just skip it altogether and just use more broth. It will still taste great. But if you want a little hint of extra flavour, the balsamic does wonders for this dish. Balsamic goes so well with onions. Give it a try and let me know how you like it!

So this one is for those of us that like a simple stick to your ribs meal for those that don’t hate onions. Don’t be put off by the cook time, most of it is hands off cooking to allow the soup to simmer and develop its flavour. It is worth it, trust me!

Easy French Onion Soup (Alcohol free)

A simple soup topped with crusty garlic bread and melty cheese. Made without wine for those that don't cook with wine. But with all the depth of flavour of the original.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free, gluten free, keto, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, Whole30
Servings: 6


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 lbs yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 6-7 onions)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 8 cups vegetable or beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tsp fresh thyme)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Crusty Garlic Bread Topping (optional)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch dried thyme (or fresh thyme)
  • 4 tbsp salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup gruyere or parmesan cheese, grated
  • 6-8 slices thick crusty bread (french baguette sliced rather thick works great)


  • In a large saucepan on medium low heat, heat the oil. Add the sliced onions. Cook, stirring often, for 12-15 minutes until onions start to soften.
  • Add sugar, if using, and cook for another 10-15 minutes until the onions start to turn golden brown.
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup of broth to deglaze the pan (scrape off any brown bits on the bottom).
  • Add the remaining broth, 2 bay leaves and 1/2 tsp dried thyme.
  • Cover and turn the heat on low. Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with optional crusty topping:

For Crusty Garlic Bread Topping

  • Preheat the oven on broil setting. Place the baking rack higher so it is close to the broiler. In a small bowl, mix the softened butter, minced garlic and pinch of thyme together.
  • Spread the garlic butter over sliced crusty bread place on a baking sheet and toast/broil till golden.
  • To serve, scoop the hot soup into an oven proof serving dish (see notes for alternative if you don't have an oven proof serving bowl). Place a slice of toasted garlic bread on top of the soup. Sprinkle generously with grated cheese and place under the broiler till the cheese melts and starts to turn golden brown on top (about 3 minutes).


Tip: If you don’t have individual oven proof dishes to broil the bread in the soup (or if you are lazy). Just toast the garlic bread with cheese on top under the broiler till crusty and golden brown. Add a slice of cheesy garlic bread on top of the soup right before serving.Β 

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