Italian Onion Soup with Fontina and Thyme


(photo: courtesy of Dr. K.; from a clockwise position: raw onions, reduced onions, water added to reduced onions, onions prior to cooking, and finished product).

When our die hard fan Dr. K. mentioned he tried a new recipe from Michael Ruhlman’s excellent new cookbook Twenty I was eager to hear which dish he attempted.  And when Dr. K. sent us photos of Ruhlman’s French Onion Soup recipe (the dish he choose) I become intent on adding an Italian bent to the recipe so that we could post the recipe on (after all, any dyed-in-the-wool Italian food snob wouldn’t dare post a French recipe).  

So, without further insult to the other highly regarded food tradition on the Continent, here’s our Italian Onion Soup recipe.
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 6 or 7 large red or Spanish onions, sliced thin
  • ⅓ cup high quality white vermouth (you can also use sherry)
  • Italian Red wine (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 slices of Tuscan style country-style bread (slice to cover the width of your serving bowls)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh or dried Thyme (use less of you’re using the dried variety)
  • ¾ pound of high quality grated Fontina cheese 
Using a large “Dutch” oven or pot begin to cook down the onions with the butter and salt.  Add a lid to the pot after the oven have started to cook and let cook/steam for about 10-15 minutes.  Remove the lid and set the flame to low and let cook for 60 minutes.  Add black pepper stir and cook for another 2 hours on low heat.  You’re looking for all of the liquid to cook out of the onions, essentially leaving you with the essence of onion (you’ll be amazed at how little onions you have left but how intense the flavor is).  Next, add about 6 cups of fresh, filtered, water to the pot and bring to a boil.  Once the liquid boils set the flame to simmer, add the vermouth, wine, and thyme.  Simmer for another 15 minutes.
For the melted cheese part, cut a baguette into 1/2 inch slices and toast the bread in your broiler or toaster oven (if you don’t own a toaster oven I highly recommend it).   Next, portion the soup into ovenproof bowls, place (or float) the bread on top, cover with shredded Fontina, and broil until the cheese is melted. 
The recipe is adapted from “Ruhlman’s Twenty” by Michael Ruhlman (Chronicle Books, 2011). 


  1. ummm! looking forward to making this soup!1 Thanks!

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