Panera French Onion Soup (Copycat Recipe!)

Do you love Panera’s French Onion Soup? It’s a delicious combination of sweet caramelized onions, flavorful broth, and gooey melted cheese that’s hard to resist. With this Panera French Onion Soup copycat recipe, you can make a delicious version of the restaurant favorite in your own kitchen.

panera french onion soup

Why Panera French Onion Soup is a Fan Favorite

Panera Bread is a chain of bakery-cafe fast casual restaurants in the United States and Canada, and their French Onion Soup is one of their most popular items on the menu. Panera’s French Onion Soup is a staple in the cafe’s menu and it is one of the most sought after soups due to its comforting and rich taste. It’s also a great option to order with a “You Pick Two” Panera special that allows you to pair a cup of soup with any Panera half sandwich, salad, or flatbread. 

Overall, Panera’s French Onion Soup is a popular menu item because of its delicious taste, comforting warmth, and high-quality ingredients. The combination of sweet caramelized onions, savory beef broth, and nutty Gruyere cheese make it a satisfying, delicious and savory soup. Since it’s not always practical to run out and purchase this comforting soup we thought it would be a great idea to try our hand at recreating this soup at home.

What ingredients are needed to make this Panera Bistro French Onion Soup Recipe?

You’ll need a few simple ingredients and minimal effort to prepare a small batch pot of this comforting soup. Once it’s ready, it’s time to grab a spoon and dig into the warm, comforting flavors of this homemade classic. Whether you’re making it for a special occasion or just a regular weeknight dinner, you’re sure to enjoy this copycat version of Panera’s French Onion Soup.

Ingredients

To start your shopping list you’ll need:

  • White wine vinegar
  • White granulated sugar
  • Tomato sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Olive Oil
  • Yellow Onions (substitute: Sweet Onions)
  • All purpose flour
  • Soy Sauce
  • Beef broth
  • Cornstarch
  • Thyme
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Croutons
  • Gruyere Cheese (substitute: Fontina Cheeses, Asiago Cheeses)
panera french onion soup recipe ingridents

What equipment is needed to make Panera French Onion Soup?

You need just a few pieces of equipment to whip up this yummy soup. You’ll need:

  • Large Dutch Oven or Large Pot
  • Skillet
  • Sauce Pan
  • Chopping Board
  • Knife
  • Cheese Grater
  • Bowl (for serving)
  • Souper Cubes (for storage)

Tools You’ll Need

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How to make Panera’s French Onion Soup At Home: Copycat Recipe

1

Step 1: Prep your ingredients

Chop your onions into slices and grate your cheese. Set aside.

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Step 2: Make your tomato gastrique

Start by creating the tomato gastrique by boiling the white vinegar in a saucepan until it has boiled down to half its amount of liquid.

Add the sugar to the white vinegar and mix continuously for about 3-5 minutes or until the mixture has become syrupy.

Add the tomato sauce to this syrup and mix until combined. Then remove from the heat.

What is a tomato gastrique?

A tomato gastrique is a type of French sauce typically used to enhance the flavor of meats and other dishes. It is made with a base of tomatoes cooked down with vinegar, sugar, and spices such as garlic and onions. The result is a tart and sweet condiment that adds complexity and depth to dishes.

3

Step 3: Caramelize your onions

In a large pot add the olive oil and sliced onions and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the onions have become golden brown and caramelized. This is the step you’ll want to spend some time on to make sure your onions are caramelized.

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Step 4: Add the flour

Add the flour and mix the onions until they are fully coated and the flour covered onions soak up all the juices.

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Step 5: Add the onions and remaining ingredients to the pot to make a savory broth

In the same large pot add the beef broth, tomato gastrique, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, cornstarch, and all the seasonings. Stir this mixture together.

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Step 6: Simmer the soup

Simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring every so often. Add more seasoning to taste as you go.

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Step 7: Serve and enjoy

Plate your soup in a bowl, top with a handful of croutons and cheese! Panera usually places the cheese directly in the soup with the croutons. Leave these in the soup when you are ready to serve and the heat of the soup will melt the cheese and croutons.

What to serve with Panera French Onion Soup

This meal has a generous portion and is hearty enough to be eaten as a main meal. You can definitely pair this with a salad or sandwich for a bigger meal to mimic ordering a You Pick Two from Panera (our favorite!) This soup also pairs nicely with warm crusty bread, crackers, or grilled cheese.

Panera serves this soup with focaccia croutons when you order this from the restaurant which gives the flavor an extra boost. Since focaccia croutons are hard to find at most local grocery stores you can pair the soup with focaccia bread instead. Some grocery stores (like Wegmans) sell a half and full loaf of focaccia bread in the bakery section.

If you feel like stepping the recipe up a notch you can always turn part of that loaf of focaccia into the chain’s focaccia bread croutons as well! Making croutons is an easy and delicious way to use up leftover bread.

How to make Homemade Focaccia Croutons

To turn your focaccia bread into croutons follow these simple steps:

  1. To make them, start by preheating your oven to 350°F. 
  2. Cut your leftover bread into cubes, about 1-2 inches in size, and place them on a baking sheet. 
  3. Drizzle the cubes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and any other desired seasonings. 
  4. Stir the cubes so they are well-coated with the oil and seasoning. 
  5. Bake the cubes for 8-10 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until golden and crispy. 
  6. Once done, let the croutons cool before serving. Enjoy!

The best way to store and reheat your leftover Soup

Soup Storage

The best way to store your small batch Panera French Onion Soup will be in the 1 or 2 cup Souper Cubes trays to save the other servings for another time. We love using Souper Cubes for the convenience of having perfectly portioned meals to eat later. 

Freezing the other servings also means you can add to your freezer stash of meals! We love creating a freezer stash when batch cooking recipes because it means you’ll have a variety of meals to choose from when you mix and match during the week. The best part is: if you are cooking for one you don’t have to eat soup all week (if you don’t want to) with this method. 

If you don’t have Souper Cubes you will want to store your leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days to reheat for later in the week. If you want to freeze this soup you can also store the soup in a few single serving mason jars or freezer bags.

Reheating Leftovers

To reheat leftovers, place the soup in a microwave safe or oven safe dish and microwave on high until heated through, about 2-4 minutes. Alternatively, you can reheat the soup in a saucepan over low heat until warm.

If you are using the Souper Cubes to freeze your leftovers it’s super easy to reheat this straight from frozen in a saucepan or microwave. Just add a little bit of water to your bowl or saucepan and your meal will be ready in minutes! You can also defrost the Souper Cubes overnight in the fridge and reheat in a microwave or on the stovetop.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

As of 2023 the price for a bowl of Panera’s French Onion soup is $8.19 + tax.

A cup of French Onion soup is $6.49 + tax.

If you are a fan of bread bowls the way we are the price for a bread bowl with the Panera French Onion soup is $8.49 + tax.

No, Panera’s French onion soup does not contain any meat. The soup is made with caramelized onions and beef broth. The soup is topped with gruyere and croutons for a delicious and filling meal. However, because one of the main ingredients is beef broth it is not a 100% vegetarian option. 

Yes, Panera French onion soup contains cheese. The soup is made with a combination of caramelized onions, beef broth, and melted cheese. The cheese used in the soup is typically a combination of Gruyere, Parmesan, and Swiss cheeses. The cheese used in the soup adds a rich, creamy texture and depth of flavor to the soup. Additionally, the melted cheese on top of the soup gives it a delicious crunchy texture.

French onion soup is a type of soup typically made with beef broth or beef stock, onions, and seasonings such as thyme, bay leaves, and garlic. The broth is simmered for a long time to allow the flavors of the beef and the onions to combine. The onions are usually caramelized in butter or oil before being added to the broth, adding a sweet and savory flavor to the soup. Additional ingredients may include sherry, cognac, brandy, croutons, and grated cheese, although these are not essential to the traditional French onion soup.

When looking for something to substitute for Gruyere cheese in French onion soup, you have several options. Some good alternatives include Swiss cheese, Emmental, Comte, and Jarlsberg. All of these cheeses are similar in taste and texture to Gruyere, and will still provide a nutty and complex flavor to the soup. Additionally, some recipes call for a mix of cheeses, such as Gruyere, Swiss, and Parmesan, so feel free to experiment with the different flavors to create a unique and delicious soup.

To deepen the flavor of this delicious soup, you can start by using a good quality beef stock or broth.

The next step would be cooking your onions. When caramelizing the onions, take your time and cook them over low heat. This will ensure that they are cooked evenly and will bring out their natural sweetness. You can also add other aromatics such as garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and parsley to enhance the flavor.

Finally, be sure to season your soup as you go to build and bring out all its flavors.

Let’s Make Some French Onion Soup

If you want to experience the tantalizing flavors of Panera’s French Onion Soup from the comfort of your own kitchen, give this recipe a try! This copycat recipe has all the deliciousness of the restaurant version — without having to travel to Panera. 

This dish is sure to bring the warmth of the bistro to your home kitchen. With caramelized onions, beef broth, and a few other simple ingredients, you can make this classic soup on a cold winter night. So if you’re ready to get cooking, let’s get started on making the perfect Panera-style French onion soup right at home!

Did you make this? We want to see how it turned out! Tag us in your social media posts @thesolospoon and use #thesolospoon when you share!

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Panera French Onion Soup (Copycat Recipe!)

  • Author: The Solo Spoon
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 50
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 Cups
  • Category: Soups
  • Method: Stovetop

Description

Do you love Panera’s French Onion Soup? It’s a delicious combination of sweet caramelized onions, flavorful broth, and gooey melted cheese that’s hard to resist. With this Panera french onion soup copycat recipe, you can make a delicious version of the restaurant favorite in your own kitchen.


Ingredients

Units

Tomato Gastrique

  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce

Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire
  • Tomato Gastrique (made from the ingredients above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup of croutons
  • 1/2 cup gruyere cheese

Instructions

  1. Chop your onions into thin slices and grate your cheese. Set aside.
  2. Start by creating the tomato gastrique by boiling the white vinegar in a saucepan until it has boiled down to half its amount of liquid.
  3. Add the sugar to the white vinegar and mix continuously for about 3-5 minutes or until the mixture has become syrupy.
  4. Add the tomato sauce to this syrup and mix until combined. Then remove from the heat.
  5. In a large pot add the olive oil and sliced onions and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the onions have become golden brown and caramelized.
  6. Add the flour and mix the onions until they are fully coated and the flour covered onions soak up all the juices.
  7. Add in the beef broth, tomato gastrique, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, cornstarch and all the seasonings. Stir this mixture together.
  8. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring every so often.
  9. Get ready to in a bowl, top with croutons and cheese and enjoy!

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