Feb 22, 2021

French Onion Soup Pasta

This pasta recipe takes elements of everyone’s favorite French onion soup and turns it into a hearty vegetarian pasta perfect for cold winter nights.

jump toRECIPE

Simmered onions and thyme with a beef stock gravy and gruyere cheese topped with buttery garlic breadcrumbs and sautéed kale will surely become a staple pasta in your house. Rather than using caramelized onions typical of a French onion soup in this recipe, I use an onion soubise – an easy, French sauce where the onions are cooked over a long period of time at a low heat until they are tender and flavorful.

French Onion Soup Pasta

What is Onion Soubise?

The base of the sauce is an onion soubise, an easy, three-ingredient French sauce. Onion soubise is classically puréed with cream as an accompaniment to meat such as a seared steak or roast chicken. The goal isn’t to put color on the onions but to coax out the flavor so don’t try to rush it. Make the onion mixture a few days ahead of time and reheat when needed in order to minimize the day of prep. I also use it in the spicy rigatoni sauce here.

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Yellow onion – I use yellow onion in this recipe for its mellow flavor when cooked. These onions with a brownish yellow papery skin are a great all-purpose cooking onion.
  • Kale – While I opt to use Tuscan (also called dinosaur kale) in this recipe because it’s flatter and easier to cut into strips, curly kale or another green like rapini or Swiss Chard can also be used. Be sure to remove the tough ribs from the middle of the kale before cooking it.
  • Beef Stock – Beef stock is typically made from bones as well as aromatics and vegetables while beef broth is made with the meat. How does that affect their flavor? Beef stock has a much richer, more robust flavor which comes from the collagen released from the simmering bones. On the other hand, beef broth is much more mellow in flavor.
  • Pasta – Twisted pasta shapes like fusilli or strozzapreti, as well as shell-like shapes, are great for light creamy sauces such as this one. I like using lumache pasta though it can be difficult to find. It’s a shell-shaped pasta named after a snail shell that has a pinched end which works to trap sauce in the tubes.
  • Gruyère – Gruyère is a hard cheese with a nutty, sweet flavor from Switzerland. The fact that it melts well (due to a high water to oil ratio) mixed with it’s distinct flavor makes it the perfect addition to anything from sandwiches to mac and cheese or fondue. If you can’t find Gruyère, I recommend substituting with another Swiss cheese like Emmental.

How to Make French Onion Soup Pasta

  1. Make the buttered breadcrumbs. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and heat through then add the butter and allow to melt. Add the breadcrumbs and garlic powder, shaking the pan or stirring constantly until the breadcrumbs are uniformly golden brown, about 4 minutes. Immediately remove from the pan to a bowl or container and store in an airtight container until ready to use.
  2. Make the onion soubise. Heat a large sauté pan over low heat. Add the butter, ½ cup of water, the onions and thyme to the pan. Continue to simmer the onions over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are tender, about 1½ hours. Season with salt.
  3. Make a roux with the stock. Over medium heat, stir the flour into the onions, cooking until it’s pale brown, about 1 minute. Stir in the beef stock and bring to a simmer. Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 6 minutes.
  4. Cook the pasta. Place a large pot with salted water over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and return to the pot. Add the onion and stock mixture over the top, stirring in ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
  5. Assemble and bake. Heat the oven to broil on high. Spread the pasta in baking dish and top with the gruyere cheese and thyme. Add to the oven and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Serve. Remove and top with the buttered breadcrumbs then serve immediately.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Do I really need to simmer the onions for that long?

Yes! Slowly cooking them coaxes out the subtle, sweet onion flavor and turns it into a buttery, jam-like consistency. It mellows the harsh flavor of onions. You don’t want caramelized onions for this.

Can I make the onion soubise in advance?

Yes! They can be made up to a week in advance and stored covered and refrigerated.

Can I make the breadcrumbs in advance?

Yes! Remove them to a small bowl once they have cooled. Then, store them in an airtight container for up to a week.

Why should I save pasta cooking water?

I always recommend reserving some of the pasta cooking water before draining your pasta. The salty, starchy water that the pasta is cooked in adds flavor and helps to bind the sauce to the pasta, making a rich and silky sauce. 

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

French Onion Soup Pasta

Print Pin
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the buttered garlic breadcrumbs:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

For the onion soubise:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs thyme

For the pasta:

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 small bunch tuscan kale, ribs removed and thinly sliced
  • ½ pound lumache pasta (or rigatoni or other tube shape pasta)
  • 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme

Instructions:

For the buttered garlic breadcrumbs:

  • Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and heat through then add the butter and allow to melt. Add the breadcrumbs and garlic powder, shaking the pan or stirring constantly until the breadcrumbs are uniformly golden brown, about 4 minutes. Immediately remove from the pan to a bowl or container and store in an airtight container until ready to use.

For the onion soubise:

  • Heat a large sauté pan over low heat. Add the butter, ½ cup of water, the onions and thyme to the pan. Continue to simmer the onions over low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are tender, about 1½ hours. Season with salt.

For the pasta:

  • Over medium heat, stir the flour into the onions, cooking until it’s pale brown, about 1 minute. Stir in the beef stock and bring to a simmer. Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 6 minutes.
  • Place a large pot with salted water over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and return to the pot. Add the onion and stock mixture over the top, stirring in ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
  • Heat the oven to broil on high. Spread the pasta in baking dish and top with the gruyere cheese and thyme. Add to the oven and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove and top with the buttered breadcrumbs then serve immediately.

DID YOU MAKE THIS?

TAG ME ON INSTAGRAM TO BE FEATURED ON MY STORIES! @cookingwithcocktailrings

Rate + Review

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THIS RECIPE?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating