Thursday, February 13, 2014

French Onion Soup (Pressure Cooker Version)

What's for dinner?  French onion soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.  Comfort food!
I've been watching the weather, which I think is something that people are prone to do this time of year here in New England, and I knew that we had yet another snowstorm on the way. That, plus my wife bugging me to do it, made me decide to make a batch of french onion soup.

I'd already made the beef stock earlier in the week so we both knew I'd be making the soup soon but the bad weather sealed it. Since both my wife and son are home today because school was cancelled, that gives me someone to share it with and having a nice hot soup to eat seems to make the storm somehow not QUITE as bad (though I'd take no soup and 70 degree weather anytime).

My wife had also shared the fact that I would be making french onion soup on her blog and that led to requests that I post the recipe, which is why I'm typing this now.

I haven't posted any recipes using the pressure cooker before so I hesitated to post this one but the requests she received made me change my mind. Until a couple of years ago I had never used a pressure cooker myself - but decided I wanted to try it. I received mine as a gift (thanks to my wonderful in-laws!) and it's one of the most useful gifts I've ever had. I typically make some form of stock (usually chicken) at least twice a month. I use it (the stock) in many recipes and if you've ever made chicken soup with homemade stock, you'll never go back to the store bought kind again. It's also invaluable if you like making beans of any kind - the cooking time is cut in half (at least!) which frees up time for doing other things.

In short, if you've never used a pressure cooker, it's a worthwhile investment to make. They're huge time savers, not expensive, and if your concern is safety (who hasn't heard stories about one blowing up and leaving a mess everywhere?), the ones made today are very safe. If you have concerns about that, here is an article you can read all about how safe the newer generation of pressure cookers are.

So, enough about pressure cookers and on to the recipe! The majority of the steps in this recipe are NOT done using the pressure cooker, but since it is used in one of the steps, I'll tell you exactly when you need to put the lid on and seal it - otherwise, the "pan" I refer to is the pressure cooker pan, however it's NOT being used as a pressure cooker unless I mention otherwise.  Because of this, if you don't own a pressure cooker or prefer not to use one, in the one section I'll point out, you could simply cook the mixture NOT under pressure for a longer period of time to achieve the same results.

Sliced onion - this is the amount you should have from about five large onions

If you have a mandoline, it will 
make slicing the onions MUCH
easier. You want them as thin as
possible to cut down on cooking
time which makes it an ideal task
for a mandoline.


  • 1 tbsp butter

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 5 cups yellow onions, thinly sliced (about five large onions)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 1⁄2 cup of dry white wine

  • 8 cups beef stock 
  • 4 tbsp butter (for roux)
  • 1/4 cup flour
12 French bread slices – about 3/4” thick, sprayed with olive oil and toasted
. You may want more depending upon how many you like in your soup (or you can use croutons, if you prefer)
Swiss or gruyere cheese - you want enough slices to cover the bowls of soup later, so the amount depends on how many bowls you'll be having. You can also use either slices or shredded (or if you have a block as I did, you can use a vegetable peeler to slice thinly)

  1. Preheat the pressure cooker on medium-low heat, then add the butter, oil and onions
    Onions in the pan and ready to cook
  2. Soften the onions, stirring occasionally in the pan covered with a normal lid or pressure cooker lid (NOT sealed) until the onions become translucent (about 15 minutes)
    Softened onions ready to start browning
  3. Turn the heat to low, remove the lid and add the salt and sugar and stir frequently until the onions have turned a uniform brown (about 20 to 25 minutes)
  4. While doing this (or before if you prefer and simply set aside): in a small, separate pan make the roux by adding the butter and flour and stirring on medium heat until all of the butter has melted and the flour has been fully incorporated. Continue stirring occasionally and watching carefully until it turns a tan color. Turn off the heat and set aside

    Making the roux
  5. Pour the white wine into the pan with the onions to deglaze them. Cook while stirring until the liquid has evaporated, then add the beef stock (if you can use homemade stock, the flavor will be much richer, however store bought will work just fine)
    Browned onions with the wine added and reduced
  6. CLOSE AND LOCK THE PRESSURE COOKER. Turn the heat to high until the pressure cooker has reached HIGH pressure. Turn down the heat and let cook for five minutes (under pressure). When time is up, turn off the heat and either let cool or help it along by putting under running cold water until it's cool enough to open (at this point, I tend to help it along by putting under the running water because the smell is so wonderful I want to eat it sooner rather than later). This is the ONLY step actually using the pressure cooker - so if you prefer NOT to use one, you can simply let it simmer for about an hour instead to achieve the same results.
    After removing the lid of the pressure cooker
  7. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper seasoning (if you used homemade stock, then you will most likely need to add additional salt) then take a ladle of soup and pour it into the pan where you made the roux (the flour and butter mixture)
  8. Whisk together the roux and the soup you just added to it 
    The roux and soup mixture before adding to the pan
  9. Pour the roux/soup mixture into the pressure cooker pan, on medium heat WITHOUT the lid and simmer together for a few minutes
  10. Turn off the heat and pour the soup in bowls
  11. Place the toasted french bread slices (or croutons) on top of the soup then put the slices of cheese (or grated cheese) on top of the bread
    Adding the bread to the soup. This was actually a leftover homemade
    baguette, sliced, painted with olive oil and added herbs, then toasted.
  12. Place bowls on a cookie sheet and put it under the broiler (on low if you can control the broiler temperature) for approximately three minutes or until the cheese has melted and is bubbly
    Slices of swiss cheese added on top of the toasted bread
    Straight out of the oven
  13. Remove from the oven and enjoy!! (be careful, the soup will be VERY hot!)


  1. Love French Onion soup and this looks so good!

  2. Just made this in my Instant Pot. Delicious. Thanks for sharing this recipe.