RECIPES:
Nov 2, 2022

French Onion Soup Dumplings

Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 1 d
French onion sheng jian bao with crispy bottoms filled with a soupy inside!

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These soup dumplings are made with a caramelized onion filling and rich gelatin beef broth that turns to a liquid as the dumplings are pan-fried with melty Gruyère cheese on the bottoms.

While these dumplings are a bit more labor intensive they can easily be made ahead and frozen. The components themselves can also be made ahead of time for a shortcut for easy assembly and cooking.

French Onion Soup Dumplings 

Xiao Long Bao vs. Sheng Jian Bao

Soup dumplings, xiao long bao, are small Chinese steamed buns crimped at the top and made with a congealed rich broth that melts and turns to soup as the dumplings are steamed. While I call them French onion soup dumplings these are actually sheng jian bao, which are soup dumplings that are made with a slightly thicker dough and pan-fried for a golden brown crisp bottom. 

Components of These Dumplings

  1. The broth. The broth is made with rich beef bones (it’s really a stock). As the broth simmers at a low heat over a long period of time the collagen and nutrients from the bones flavor the broth. Gelatin is added to coagulate the broth so it can be cubed and added to the dumplings. This is a crucial part of making soup dumplings. While many soup dumpling broths are made with collagen heavy parts like pigs feet, the gelatin mimics it. 
  2. The onions. Caramelizing onions takes a bit of patience. Don’t try to rush the process by turning up the heat. The goal is to draw out the sugars in the onions – you have to go low and slow. 
  3. The dough. Because these dumplings are filled and pinched at the top it is actually easier to make your own dumpling dough. This is made with a mix of all-purpose flour and cornstarch for thicker, puffier sheng jian bao inspired dumplings. Store-bought dough will be thinner and drier. 
  4. The assembly. The dumplings are filled with the gelatin broth and onions then pan-fried and steamed with crispy, lace Gruyère cheese bottoms. 

Key Ingredients in This Recipe 

  • Beef bones – Ask your butcher for beef bones for stock as they are often behind the counter or kept in the freezer section. The bones are first roasted to develop a caramelized flavor. They are then simmered simply with onion, bay leaves and black peppercorns to develop a rich stock for the soup broth filling in the dumplings.  
  • Gelatin – While the beef bones add body to the stock, the addition of gelatin helps to turn the liquid into a jello consistency that makes it much easier to add to the dumplings. As the dumplings steam, the broth turns back into liquid form, adding soup broth to each bite. Note that gelatin is not vegetarian so this recipe is unable to be made vegetarian.
  • Onions – Caramelizing onions can take some patience. Don’t try to rush the process by turning up the heat. The goal is to draw out the sugars in the onions and caramelize them over a longer period of time over low heat. I use a combination of both yellow onion and red onion for a mix of mellow and sweet, as well as deeper onion flavor.
  • Gruyère cheese – Gruyère is a hard cheese from Switzerland with a nutty, sweet flavor. The fact that it melts well (due to a high water to oil ratio) mixed with its distinct flavor makes it the perfect addition to these dumplings. If you can’t find Gruyère, I recommend substituting another Swiss cheese like Emmental or French Comté.

How to Make French Onion Soup Dumplings

Step 1: Roast bones. 

Heat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Arrange the bones and onion on a baking sheet and roast until the bones are browned, about 1 hour.

Step 2: Add bones to pot. 

Add the red wine to the baking sheet to deglaze the pan. Remove bones, onion and any browned bits to a large pot or Dutch oven and add 2 quarts (2L) water bay leaves and peppercorns.

Step 3: Simmer beef broth. 

Bring the mixture just to a boil over medium heat then lower and simmer, using a spoon to skim off any scum and fat that rises to the surface and discard. Continue to simmer (just a few small bubbles) until halved, about 1 hour.

Step 4: Strain broth and add gelatin. 

Strain the broth and discard the bones, onions and spices. You should be left with about 4 cups (946ml) to 5 cups (1183ml) of broth. Let the broth come to room temperature then whisk in the gelatin and let it sit to bloom. If it’s too hot the gelatin may clump. 

Step 5: Let the broth sit. 

Add the broth to a 9” x 9” (23 cm x 23 cm) pan and refrigerate overnight until the broth has a jelly-like consistency.

Step 6: Sauté onions. 

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the onions and toss quickly to remove the moisture from the onions.

Step 7: Continue to caramelize onions. 

Sauté until the onions are soft and tender, about 10 minutes, then sprinkle the sugar and salt over the onions (to help them caramelize) and reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are uniformly brown and caramelized, about 30 to 45 minutes. Set aside.

Step 8: Mix the dough. 

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, yeast and sugar. Stir ⅔ cup (227g) of warm (not hot) water into the flour mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula (add additional water one teaspoon/ 5g at a time if the dough is too dry).

Step 9: Knead dough. 

Once the dough begins to come together, use your hands to form the dough into a ball. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth. 

Cut the dough in half and wrap each with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. Sprinkle a workspace with cornstarch and unwrap the dough.

Step 10: Roll dough out. 

Roll each half into a long log about 1” (2.5cm) in diameter. Cut each log crosswise into 12 (1” / 2.5cm) wide pieces and roll each into a ball. Cover the pieces of dough with a damp kitchen towel so the dough does not dry out.

Step 11: Make wrappers

Use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a 5” (12cm) circle. Sprinkle the dough lightly with additional cornstarch if it begins to stick. Sprinkle the finished wrapper lightly with cornstarch.

Cover with a damp towel and repeat the process, stacking each wrapper on top of the previous one until all of the dough has been used. Keep the wrappers under the damp towel while assembling.

Step 12: Mix the filling.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the caramelized onions, 2 cups of the gruyere cheese and 1½ cup of the gelatin broth.   

Step 13: Fill dumplings. 

Working one wrapper at a time, scoop about 1 tablespoon (15g) of the filling in the center of one of the dough wrappers. Fold the dough up and around the filling, pleating and pinching around the top until completely sealed.

Step 14: Continue to fill dumplings.

Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet with a bit of cornstarch so the dumplings don’t stick. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers. At this point either proceed to cooking the dumplings or freeze them until ready to use.

Step 15: Pan-fry dumplings.

When ready to cook, place a large sauté pan with a lid over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons (27g) of the vegetable oil and heat through.

Working in batches, arrange the dumplings in the pan, flat side down, so they are packed in but not touching. Fry the dumplings, uncovered, until the bottoms of the dumplings are golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 16: Steam dumplings. 

Add ¼ cup (25g) of the Gruyere cheese and allow it to melt then add ⅓ cup (79ml) water to the pan and quickly cover tightly with a lid (do this quickly, as the liquid will splatter). Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the bottoms of the dumplings are crisp and golden and the meat inside is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Step 17: Serve. 

Use a spatula to remove the dumplings and melted cheese from the pan. Repeat with the remaining dumplings and oil. Serve topped with thyme.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

How to Eat Soup Dumplings 

Do not immediately stuff it into your mouth! Remember it’s filled with hot soup!

  1. Hold your soup spoon close to the dumpling and use chopsticks to pick the soup dumpling up from the steamer basket and holding it over the spoon bringing it close to you.
  2. Take a small bite from the side of the dumpling and suck the broth out.
  3. Then you can eat the rest of the dumpling. 
How to Freeze Soup Dumplings 

If you aren’t eating the dumplings right away, be sure to freeze them so they don’t stick. Place the tray in the freezer for at least an hour then add them to a resealable plastic bag. They take just about the same amount of time to cook from frozen as from fresh. You can take them directly from the freezer and proceed with the cooking directions.

How to Make this Recipe with Store-bought Stock

To shortcut this recipe store-bought beef stock can be used instead. Heat the stock and proceed with the instructions to add the gelatin to the stock.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this French onion soup dumpling recipe, give these a try:

French Onion Soup Dumplings

Print Pin
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 1 d
Serves 24 dumplings

Ingredients:

For the broth:

  • 3 pounds beef bones
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 envelopes (¾ ounce) powdered unflavored gelatin

For the caramelized onions:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the dough:

  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • cup cornstarch, plus additional for rolling out the dough
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

For serving:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme, for garnish

Instructions:

For the broth:

  • Heat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Arrange the bones and onion on a baking sheet and roast until the bones are browned, about 1 hour.
  • Add the red wine to the baking sheet to deglaze the pan. Remove bones, onion and any browned bits to a large pot or Dutch oven and add 2 quarts (2L) water bay leaves and peppercorns.
  • Bring the mixture just to a boil over medium heat then lower and simmer, using a spoon to skim off any scum and fat that rises to the surface and discard. Continue to simmer (just a few small bubbles) until halved, about 1 hour.
  • Strain the broth and discard the bones, onions and spices. You should be left with about 4 cups (946ml) to 5 cups (1183ml) of broth.
  • Let the broth come to room temperature then whisk in the gelatin and let it sit to bloom. If it’s too hot the gelatin may clump.
  • Add the broth to a 9” x 9” (23 cm x 23 cm) pan and refrigerate overnight until the broth has a jelly-like consistency.

For the caramelized onions:

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the onions and toss quickly to remove the moisture from the onions.
  • Sauté until the onions are soft and tender, about 10 minutes, then sprinkle the sugar and salt over the onions (to help them caramelize) and reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are uniformly brown and caramelized, about 30 to 45 minutes. Set aside.

For the dough:

  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, yeast and sugar. Stir ⅔ cup (227g) of warm (not hot) water into the flour mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula (add additional water one teaspoon/ 5g at a time if the dough is too dry).
  • Once the dough begins to come together, use your hands to form the dough into a ball. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth.
  • Cut the dough in half and wrap each with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Sprinkle a workspace with cornstarch and unwrap the dough.
  • Roll each half into a long log about 1” (2.5cm) in diameter. Cut each log crosswise into 12 (1” / 2.5cm) wide pieces and roll each into a ball. Cover the pieces of dough with a damp kitchen towel so the dough does not dry out.
  • Use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a 5” (12cm) circle. Sprinkle the dough lightly with additional cornstarch if it begins to stick. Sprinkle the finished wrapper lightly with cornstarch.
  • Cover with a damp towel and repeat the process, stacking each wrapper on top of the previous one until all of the dough has been used. Keep the wrappers under the damp towel while assembling.

For assembly and cooking:

  • In a medium mixing bowl combine the caramelized onions, 2 cups of the gruyere cheese and 1½ cup of the gelatin broth.
  • Working one wrapper at a time, scoop about 1 tablespoon (15g) of the filling in the center of one of the dough wrappers. Fold the dough up and around the filling, pleating and pinching around the top until completely sealed.
  • Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet with a bit of cornstarch so the dumplings don’t stick. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers. At this point either proceed to cooking the dumplings or freeze them until ready to use.
  • When ready to cook, place a large sauté pan with a lid over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons (27g) of the vegetable oil and heat through.
  • Working in batches, arrange the dumplings in the pan, flat side down, so they are packed in but not touching. Fry the dumplings, uncovered, until the bottoms of the dumplings are golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add ¼ cup (25g) of the Gruyere cheese and allow it to melt then add ⅓ cup (79ml) water to the pan and quickly cover tightly with a lid (do this quickly, as the liquid will splatter). Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the bottoms of the dumplings are crisp and golden and the meat inside is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Use a spatula to remove the dumplings and melted cheese from the pan. Repeat with the remaining dumplings and oil. Serve topped with thyme.

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  1. 4 stars
    This was a hit for Thanksgiving! I couldn’t find guyere cheese after going to 4 supermarkets and I tried to use store bought dumpling wraps. I substituted the cheese with a mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan blend, and the store bought wraps were a waste of time. The wraps I made with this recipe were significantly better than the store bought ones and don’t burst open when frying. I also think the fat that crusts on the top of the soup gelatin should be removed. I used more soup than cheese when making the filling and when stuffing the dumpling – make sure to seal them using the pleat technique (this is important). This was a lot of work but they’re very good and I’m glad I found this recipe!