This 4-ingredient Italian onion soup is just as humble, frugal, and soothing as its more commonly known French kin. It’s referred to in its native Italy as Tropea onion soup, taking its name from the sweet red onions found in abundance at farmers’ markets in the southern region of Calabria. Rest assured, everyday American red onions work spectacularly in their place.–Jenny Howard

A white bowl of Italian onion soup topped with cheese toast with a pot of soup and several bread slices in the background.

Italian Onion Soup ~ Licurdia

5 / 2 votes
This Italian onion soup is an inexpensive, comforting bowl of goodness that's similar to its French cousin. A fairly basic soup made with a few ingredients tastes terrific, especially when topped with rustic, cheesy toast.
David Leite
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories410 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes


For the Italian onion soup

  • 2 tablespoons lard or olive oil
  • 2 pounds red onions, halved and cut into 1/4-inch-thick (6-mm) slices
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups store-bought or homemade vegetable broth, warmed

For the cheese toasts (optional)

  • 4 to 6 slices rustic bread
  • 5 to 7 ounces caciocavallo, scamorza, or aged provolone cheese, grated


For the Italian onion soup

  • In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt the lard or warm the oil until it just begins to shimmer. Stir in the onions and season with salt, to taste. Cover and cook until the onions have wilted and softened, 12 to 15 minutes.
  • Uncover and increase the heat to medium. Continue to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until browned and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes. Be careful not to let the onions scorch.
  • Dust the onions with the flour and stir to combine. Slowly pour in the warmed broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the onions are falling apart, about 30 minutes.

Make the cheese toasts (optional)

  • Meanwhile, preheat the broiler to high. Place the bread on a rimmed baking sheet. Distribute the cheese evenly on top of the slices.
  • Just before the soup is ready, broil the bread until the cheese is melted and toasty brown, about 2 minutes.

Serve the Italian onion soup

  • Serve the soup, if desired with the cheese toasts on the side or place them cheese-side up atop each individual bowl.

Adapted From

Food of the Italian South

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 410 kcalCarbohydrates: 38 gProtein: 13 gFat: 24 gSaturated Fat: 11 gMonounsaturated Fat: 9 gTrans Fat: 0.1 gCholesterol: 24 mgSodium: 1516 mgFiber: 5 gSugar: 18 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe © 2019 Katie Parla. Photo © 2019 Ed Anderson. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

A disclaimer needs to go along with this recipe for those who don’t know what they are going to get when making this soup. This is not your standard French onion soup. It doesn’t claim or pretend to be. The ingredient list is much shorter, as is the cooking time. And that’s okay, because even though the flavors aren’t as complex as you usually get with a long-cooked French onion soup, this still yields a tasty and even rich alternative.

Although I would have been thrilled to be able to go to Southern Italy and get the Tropea onions called for in the recipe, alas, that was not meant to be. I had to use the alternative of regular red onions. I also substituted provolone cheese for the two mentioned in the ingredient list. Not being familiar with Tropea onions, I don’t know if my soup suffered from not being used. I was quite surprised, however, at how much I liked provolone cheese on my rustic sourdough slices. I actually didn’t realize that it wasn’t the Gruyere or Comté cheese that I usually use for French onion soup. I got 5 dinner portions out of this recipe as well as 1 lunch.

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My family enjoyed this soup. The vegetable broth on this site worked well with an onion soup. My broiler wouldn’t light, so I toasted the croutons in the oven and browned the cheese on them on the top rack position.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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