The Simple Bread Swap To Improve French Onion Soup

Cold winter months call for easy-to-make comfort food, and French onion soup fits the bill. With relatively few ingredients — stock (traditionally beef), onions, bread, and Comté cheese — French onion soup makes wholesome and delicious food quick and accessible (per Culture Trip). As Billy Hannigan, of Sydney, Austrailia's Loulou, describes, French onion soup is "perfect for a cheap and cheerful winter night in. It's hearty and very simple to follow" (via Broadsheet).

Vice points out that a 14th-century French cookbook, "Viandier," cites a recipe similar to French onion soup. However, according to Culture Trip, French onion soup didn't rise to popularity until the 1800s, when multiple legends point to King Louis XV's involvement in its discovery. Outside of its origins, French onion soup has been known to mask the smell of alcohol and to this day is served late into the night at French weddings.

When making the recipe at home, whether for a hangover or not, one trick can take your French onion soup to a new level: Swap the bread for puff pastry, per Food52.

French onion soup en croûte

While French onion soup is comforting, the mushy texture created by using bread at the bottom and top of the bowl can be a little off-putting. Agathe Fondeville, co-owner of the Parisian Bichettes, laments to Food 52 that "French onion soup is super-good, but it's not always super-sexy." To mitigate the less-than-sexy texture, Bichettes makes their French onion soup "en croûte," which means enclosing the top of the soup in a pastry crust (via Oxford Reference). To get the complete Bichettes experience at home, sprinkle Comté cheese directly in the soup. Then, once you place the pastry crust over the ramekin, add even more cheese to the top.

To cut the puff pastry, make sure the pastry rounds are about 1.5 inches longer in diameter than the ramekin, says PCC. Depending on the size of your ramekins, using a biscuit cutter can create perfect and uniform rounds. Additionally, recommends adding an egg wash on top of the pastry. The egg wash will give the top of your soup a crispier texture with a shiny golden color in addition to sealing the dough to the ramekin rim, writes Food & Wine.

Those wanting to turn French onion soup into a sharable party snack can use small phyllo dough cups to make the soup, suggests Real Simple. But whether as an appetizer or a main dish, pastry adds a light crispiness to the hearty French dish.