Not (Onion) Soup

When this recipe was republished in the New York Times a few years ago, Jessica and I cut it out and sent our brother to the supermarket right away to buy those eight onions so we could make it for dinner that night. “Eight onions!?!” Marc said? Yes, eight onions. We sliced them by hand that time, but now I have a food processor and discovered the slicing blade, so it was easier this time.

We call it Not Soup, well, because it’s not soup! We’d been wanting to make French onion soup when this recipe conveniently appeared at our doorstep, so we had to try it out. The results? A delicious casserole that’s crispy and gooey at the same time.

This isn’t a weeknight meal (it takes about 2 hours from start to end), but you can easily refrigerate it and bake it before it’s ready to be eaten if you are serving to company; it even freezes well! If you like to spend Sundays in the kitchen preparing meals for the rest of the week, make this and reheat it for Monday’s dinner like me!

So next time you’re thinking of making onion soup, why not make not soup instead?

1907: Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée or, as we like to call it, Not Onion Soup adapted from The New York Times
Serves 6


  • 1 baguette
  • 9 tablespoons butter, softened and separated
  • 9 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
  • 6-7 medium yellow onions
  • 1 cup tomato purée
  • about 2 cups of vegetable stock (or salted water)
  • kosher salt to taste


  1. Cut the baguette into 1/2-inch slices. Spread the slices out onto a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, until they’re lightly toasted. Let them cool and spread each piece with some butter, totaling about 5 tablespoons. Lay the slices close together and top with all but 1/2 cup of the cheese.
  2. While the bread is cooling, thinly slice the onions; the food processor slicing blade is great for this, but you can do it by hand as well.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat, add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and golden, about 20 minutes.
  4. In a 3.5 qt. stove-and-oven-safe pot/casserole/dutch oven (I used a Le Creuset here) arrange 1/2 of the cheese-covered bread slices on the bottom. Spread 1/2 of the onions on top, followed by 1/2 of the tomatoes. Repeat to make another layer and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Make sure not to fill the pot to the top so it doesn’t spill over when cooking!
  5. Bring the stock to a boil and very slowly pour in into the pot, near the edge, so that the liquid rises just to the top layer of cheese without covering it (you may not need all of the liquid).
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes and then move to the oven and bake uncovered for about 45 minutes.
  7. Serve! Or refrigerate and reheat in a 350 degree oven when you’re ready to eat it.