My wonderful friend Zooey and I went on a shopping road trip to Kitchener over the weekend. I can count on one hand the number of good girlfriends I have where we can talk non-stop for hours without taking a breath and always have something to yak about—Zooey is one of them.

Anyway, we stopped for lunch at a roadhouse pub and I ordered a bowl of French onion soup. I can’t remember the last time I had a really good bowl in a restaurant—they’re usually too salty or the broth is too thin or it’s flavourless. This one, however, was very good, with a deep, beefy broth, soft caramelized onions, lots of bread and topped with a great mix of cheeses. So of course, I had to try making it myself!

The recipe I’d like to share with you today is French onion soup with a twist: Strongbow cider! That’s right, apple cider. It adds an interesting sparkle and sweetness to the soup and pairs perfectly with the sweet onions and the nutty Gruy?re cheese. It takes a little time to make, since caramelizing onions is something that can’t be hurried, but believe me, it’s worth the effort.

Tara’s French Onion Soup with a Twist


  • 3 Tetra Pak boxes of salt-reduced beef broth (or 6 cups homemade; do not reduce)
  • 3 large or 6 medium onions; I like to use red or Vidalia
  • 2–3 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 can of Strongbow cider
  • a couple of ounces of brewed coffee
  • fresh ground pepper
  • kosher salt
  • baguette
  • Gruy?re cheese


  1. Pour beef broth into a pot, bring to a boil and reduce until it amounts to about 6 cups.
  2. Slice onions thinly and saut? in a pan until golden brown; this could take up to 45 minutes. If you like sweetness, add a teaspoon or two of sugar (white or brown) to add to the browning and season lightly.
  3. Add bay leaves and thyme to onions as you are saut?ing.
  4. Once onions have carmelized, add beef stock and cider.
  5. The coffee is Bobby’s twist and it adds a great depth of flavour. Add to the broth, bring to a boil and simmer about 20 minutes until all flavours have combined.
  6. Add pepper to taste, but be careful with the salt. Reducing the broth will bring on its own saltiness, so don’t overdo it!
  7. Slice baguette and toast under the broiler to desired crispness.
  8. Cover with cheese and broil in oven until cheese is melted.
  9. Add 1 or 2 slices of toast to the bowl of onion soup and enjoy!

Mmm, I can almost taste it already. It’s a great thing to make for lunch on a blustery, rainy or snowy day. It’s warm and comforting and thoroughly enjoyable. I hope you like it!

’Til next time,



Photo Credits
French onion soup: inspector_81
Vidalia onions: Ryan Griffis
Cheesy spoon and soup: A Rosie Sweet Home