Panera French Onion Soup

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Panera French Onion Soup is rich, comforting, and bursting with savory flavor! No need to head out to enjoy a hearty cup of of this soup… you can make a restaurant-quality meal at home with my Panera French onion soup recipe! Plus, it all comes together with a handful of easy-to-find ingredients. You’ll want to make this one on repeat!!

Titled Image: Panera French Onion Soup


 

Panera French Onion Soup

When I’m out and about getting some shopping done and a hunger craving hits, I almost always head to the closest Panera Bread.

I love their salads, sandwiches, and soups… they fill me up without slowing me down, which is great when I’ve got a full day of errands in front of me.

But, sometimes a Panera craving hits when I’m cozy at home! That’s why I’ve started recreating some all-star menu items. I can enjoy my favorites whenever I want! 

I’ve already shared recipes for broccoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl, the famous Panera Green Goddess salad, creamy mac and cheese, and Copycat Panera Tomato Soup.

Today, let’s add another soup recipe to the mix: Panera French onion soup!

This impressive and infinitely flavorful soup is a lot easier to make than you may think.

It’s ready in under an hour too! Get ready to meet your new favorite Panera Bread copycat!

ingredients for Panera french onion soup

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Onions – You, of course, need a hearty helping of onions for Panera Bread French onion soup. I like sweet onions best as they’re sweet and mild.

    They also caramelize beautifully thanks to their naturally higher sugar content. Some varieties include Vidalia and Walla Walla onions.
  • Unsalted Butter – Use butter instead of oil to caramelize those onions — the flavor and color are so much better!
  • All-Purpose Flour – Works as a thickening agent. You’ll add it to the pan with the caramelized onions to create a simple roux.
  • Tomato Soup – My secret ingredient for Panera French onion soup! I add condensed tomato soup for added flavor and color.
  • Chicken Stock – You can also use beef stock if you prefer.

    I’m a big believer in using stock instead of water for homemade soups… if you can’t find chicken or beef, use vegetable.
  • Croutons – All good French onion soup recipes are served with crunchy croutons on top. Use your favorite brand!
  • Mozzarella – As a garnish. Other tasty options include Gruyere and Swiss. As always, try to shred it yourself. It’s so much better than pre-shredded options!
  • Seasonings – You don’t need a lot to impart the perfect flavor combination! I’m using salt, black pepper, dried thyme, and granulated garlic powder.
onions and seasoning in a dutch oven

Tips to Make Perfect Panera Bread French Onion Soup

  • Caramelize the onions slowly.

The key to a delicious French onion soup Panera copycat is to take your time when caramelizing the onions. 

Don’t rush it — take the time to cook them low and slow over medium heat.

Allow them to caramelize for at least 20 minutes, though if you have the patience, I’ve let them go for up to 35 minutes.

They’ll become incredibly rich and flavorful the longer you leave them!

Just be careful not to let them burn. There’s a fine line between perfectly caramelized and burnt to a crisp.

  • Use a combination of liquids.

You’ll notice that I use both condensed tomato soup and broth to make Panera French onion soup.

Panera’s version is known for its robust and flavorful broth, which is why I’m using this special combination of liquids in my copycat.

If you’re feeling really fancy, enhance the depth of the broth by adding a splash of your favorite red wine to deglaze the caramelized onions pan before you create the roux.

The alcohol content will burn off, and you’ll be left with all of the flavor!

  • Consider finishing the soup in the oven.

Traditionally, French onion soup is served with melted cheese on top. You can do the same with your French onion soup Panera copycat if you’d like!

Once you’ve prepared the soup and it’s ready to serve, place each serving in an oven-safe soup crock.

Top with shredded cheese and broil for 2-5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. 

This step is optional but totally worth it, in my opinion!

Prep Ahead

  • Slice the onions
  • Measure out the spices
  • Shred the cheese if shredding yourself

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

  • Dutch Oven – I love this set and use it all the time. It is perfect for roasts and soups, and I especially love it for my one-pot meals. 
  • Or, you can use a Large Heavy Bottomed Pot.
cooked onions with tomato soup in a heavy pot

Serving Suggestions

Panera Bread French onion soup works great on its own for a light lunch. You could make it even heartier by serving it in a crusty bread bowl. 

Or, create your own Panera Duet and serve with a sandwich or garden salad! YUM. A toasted baguette on the side is always a good idea as well. 

If you want to make a meal out of it for dinner, serve it alongside some sautéed veggies and a carb. Or, as an appetizer before enjoying something like this Crockpot Chicken and Rice.

added chicken broth to onion mixture in dutch oven

Storing and Reheating 

Store leftover Panera French onion soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. 

When you’re ready to eat, simply heat your desired portion on the stovetop over medium until warmed through. Stir occasionally to prevent burning!

Panera French Onion Soup Recipe FAQ

Can I use vegetable stock instead of chicken or beef stock?

Yes! As noted above, I am a firm believer in using stock instead of water in soups and stews. 

If you use vegetable stock instead of chicken or beef, this Panera French onion soup recipe instantly becomes vegetarian-friendly! Keep in mind that the taste and look may be a bit different, but still delicious.

Can I use a different type of cheese for topping?

You sure can! Again, Gruyere and Swiss are popular choices for Panera Bread French onion soup copycats. You could also try Fontina or provolone for a different flavor. 

What is the difference between onion soup and French onion soup?

Onion soup is a general term for any soup that features onions, while French onion soup is a specific dish that originated in France. 

Just like this French onion soup Panera copycat, the latter is prepared by caramelizing onions before adding the other key ingredients and topping the whole thing with cheese. 

2 bowls of panera french onion soup

Enjoy!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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closeup of Panera French Onion Soup

Panera french onion soup in a bowl

Panera French Onion Soup

Donna Elick
My Panera French Onion Soup copycat is flavorful, hearty, and easy to make! Create a restaurant-quality dish at home with my Panera recipe!!
5 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Method Stovetop
Servings 4

Ingredients
 

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups sweet onions, sliced (about 2-3 large onions)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic Powder
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup condensed tomato soup
  • 4 cups chicken stock or beef stock
  • 1 cup croutons
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions
 

  • Caramelize Onions: In a dutch oven or large heavy-bottom pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic powder and sauté over medium heat for at least 20 minutes or until caramelized, stirring occasionally so the onions don’t burn.
  • Add Flour: Stir in the all-purpose flour and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes over medium heat.
  • Stir in Tomato Condensed Tomato Soup: Stir in the tomato gastrique or condensed tomato until well combined.
  • Add Stock: Pour in the chicken stock and whisk until combined and slightly thickened. Allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  • Season and Serve: Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Serve the soup in bowls, top with the croutons, and shredded cheese. Enjoy your French Onion Soup!

Donna’s Notes

You can store the French Onion Soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, simply heat the desired portion on the stovetop over medium heat until warmed through, stirring occasionally.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 402cal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 1272mg | Sugar: 14g | Fiber: 3g | Calcium: 201mg | Iron: 2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Panera French Onion Soup - PIN

Originally published January 2024

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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this French Onion Soup on Sunday for our family dinner. It was delicious! I added more cheese and seasoning to it because I always feel like I need more, but this would have been perfect as written. Next time I will leave it alone and make it how Donna did! It was perfect and so delicious!!

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