This Italian onion soup is similar to French onion soup and is made with just onions, broth, flour, salt, and oil. Topping with a crunchy cheese toast is optional though highly recommended.
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
Italian Onion Soup ~ Licurdia
For the Italian onion soup
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.
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.
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.
Originally published February 28, 2020