French onion soup

French Onion Soup

Doug’s way…

Being a flight attendant and travelling worldwide definitely has its perks, like not making your bed or sharing the channel changer. In my opinion, the biggest perk is enjoying the local cuisine and enjoying the locals take on your favourite dishes like French onion soup. Needless to say, I’ve had French onion soup from around the world.

The underground food network.

When you become a Flight Attendant, you also join this underground food network. It’s a secret club that shares information about the best places to eat in every major city in the world. I’m dead serious about this. If you want great food and the best happy hour, travel with a Flight Attendant!

French Onion Soup close up

Even though we can eat a different dish in a different restaurant for every meal, sometimes you need a good old classic. I have a few goto items that I gravitate to when I see it on the menu.

Gimme some comfort!

First, there is Carbonara Pasta. When you’ve been away from home for several days, you become homesick and just want something comforting. What’s more comforting than CARBS? I’ve had my fair share of delicious spaghetti carbonara, and it’s one food I have a hard time duplicating and home.

Then there is soup, French Onion Soup, to be specific. Talk about a classic! I’ve had some fantastic French Onion Soup! My favourite was in a small restaurant in the basement of a building in Quebec City. Sadly, that restaurant is no longer there, and I’ve been on the search for a new favourite place. Little did I know my new favourite place would be right in my kitchen!

I’ve got friends in high places (get it… they’re flight attendants too) and they like to cook!

The other day my friend Doug sent me his recipe for French Onion Soup. I was pretty excited to try it! The only problem is one of his ingredients comes from Trader Joe’s, and we don’t have them in Canada. And to buy the same item online, I was looking to spend $40 for something he spent $2 to buy. Not happening!

What is this mystery ingredient? Trader Joe’s Umami Seasoning! That’s the problem with Flight Attendants. They have a pantry full of staples that they buy from around the world and make it difficult to replicate their recipes. But don’t worry, Flight Attendants are problem solvers! We’ve come up with a few options for you to replace the Umami Seasoning.

Onions for french onion soup

It’s good to have options!

Option 1

Head over to amazon and buy the Trader Joe’s Umami Seasoning. It’s a bit pricey, but this is definitely the most straightforward option.

Option 2

Gather up all the ingredients for our Trader Joe’s Unami Seasoning copy-cat recipe. I won’t lie; this takes a bit of effort because you probably don’t have all the ingredients in your cupboard. But it’s well worth it, and you’ll have it to add to all your soups and stews!

Option 3

Use some mushroom broth as a replacement for some of the beef broth.

Option 4

Just make it without. It won’t be French Onion Soup Doug’s way, but it will still be delicious!

Ingredients for the French Onion soup

Gather up your ingredients, and let’s get cooking!

  • 3 large white Spanish onions
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 L beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. French grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp. Trader Joe’s umami seasoning
  • 1.5 cups red wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or several sprigs of fresh
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Day-old baguette cut into cubes
  • Gruyere or Swiss cheese (or both!)


Two things make a really great French Onion Soup. The beef stock and the onions.

First up, your beef stock. A delicious home-made stock is the best, but I find it hard to have enough beef bones to keep me supplied in beef stock, so I have to resort to store-bought. Unfortunately, the store-bought option isn’t as tasty, and I have to boost the flavour with Better Than Boullion. It really makes a huge difference.

Second, your onions. Whatever you do, do not rush your onions! It should take between 45 minutes to an hour. Pour yourself a glass of wine, light a candle, and press play on some soft background music. Low and slow is the key.

Show us what you’ve got!

Soup nearly ready

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably committed to making French Onion Soup – Doug’s way! Don’t forget to take a picture, post it on Instagram and tag us! @SimplyServedWithIce We love seeing your creations! And check out Doug’s other recipes like his Chicken Noodle Soup for the soul and his Rhubard Habanero jelly.

French Onion Soup

Recipe by Douglas Rotchell


Prep time


Cooking time





Warm and comforting, this French Onion Soup is guaranteed to satisfy! Hot gooey cheese dripping from that nice crusty bread. Yes, please!


  • 3 large white Spanish onions

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 2 litres beef broth

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon French grainy mustard

  • 1 teaspoon umami seasoning

  • 1 1/2 cups red wine

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or several sprigs of fresh

  • 1 bay leaf

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • day-old baguette cut in cubes (enough to cover the top of your serving dishes)

  • Gruyere or Swiss cheese (or both!)


  • In a large pot with a heavy bottom, sauté onions in butter, sugar and oil on low heat. Do not rush this step as it is the basis for the soup. This should take about 45-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Add garlic, Worcestershire, mushroom powder, pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Stir and allow garlic to cook for a couple of minutes. You could also use a bouquet garni. Add red wine, mustard, beef broth and check for salt. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • In a frying pan, pan-fry baguette cubes in some olive oil until golden.
  • Ladle soup into an oven-safe ramekin and top with breadcrumbs and cheese. Broil until cheese melts and is golden brown. Enjoy immediately. (Don’t burn yourself!)


  • If your onions become dry before they are caramelized, you can add a bit of water.
  • Here is our recipe for Umami Seasoning.

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