Dinner Savoury Winter

French Onion Soup with Mini Gruyère Toasties (aka mini grilled cheese)!

French Onion Soup with Mini Gruyère Toasties (aka mini grilled cheese!)

I’m in a seasonal limbo at the moment. It’s pretty disconcerting for me, especially when I’m trying to figure out what to wear.

During the winter I fall into the habit of just layering everything up. Leggings + tights all week long (because I am a triangle and thus never wear jeans) with various dresses, skirts and jumpers. Plus I wear my winter coat 24/7 – it provides the added bonus of pockets for me to carry my phone/lip balm/oyster card/ID/money/bike keys without needing some annoying tiny bag to carry around with me.

French Onion Soup with Mini Gruyère Toasties (aka mini grilled cheese!)

So when it’s spring I actually have to try and remember what it’s like to not layer so much anymore. Granted, I have been inside revising for the past 2 weeks so yoga pants and over-sized t-shirts have been my ‘uniform’ of choice.

The revision-seclusion isn’t helping things because as soon as I know it, 3 days have passed, I literally haven’t been outside and all I can think about is differentiation, sliding filament theory and production of azo-dyes.

What I’m trying to get at here is that I’m awful at seasonal adaptation and my brain is scrambled, which is why I’m posting a recipe for French Onion Soup – which I feel is a decidedly wintery dish – in April.

Three Sisters Bake

The recipe is from a newly released cookbook (published by my lovely publishers at Hardie Grant) called Three Sisters Bake. It’s a beautifully shot book with 90+ comforting yet innovative recipes, all of which look pretty simple to make. There’s even a whole chapter on salads which I’m looking forward to taking advantage of later on in the year!

The book was written by three sisters (nah Izy, you don’t say) who own and run a café in the Scottish countryside. I’m kind of dying to try out the tattie scone recipe next – a component of their most popular dish on the menu – it’s a mashed potato based griddle scone that you serve for brunch with poached eggs. Uh, yessss pleaseeee.

Three Sisters Bake

Three Sisters Bake

(I think I know what I’m having for breakfast ASAP).

French Onion Soup with Mini Gruyère Toasties (aka mini grilled cheese!)

It was pretty tough to choose a recipe to make. I think you can understand that I really did want to make this soup based on the fact that a) French onion soup is…erm…not an easy thing to photograph yet I still went ahead and made it, b) there’s mini grilled cheese involved – anything mini and I’m game and c) it is a seasonally inappropriate dish yet HELLO SOUP POST, haha.

I know that seasons are not globally identical so I’m hoping for someone reading, it’s cold out and soup sounds like the right kind of thing to be making – because if so, you won’t regret making this. It’s rich and packed with flavour from the caramelised onions, with a crispy, gooey side of Gruyère toasties – utter perfection.

French Onion Soup with Mini Gruyère Toasties (aka mini grilled cheese!)


– This recipe comes from the Three Sisters Bake cookbook (found on page 76)
– I used wholegrain toast for the toastie because I’ve told you I’m obsessed with that bread before
– I used my favourite technique for caramelising onions (from the NY times) instead of the standard way, because it takes less time to cook them. You may need to caramelise them in two batches because of the sheer volume of onion in this recipe.

French Onion Soup with Mini Gruyère Toasties (aka mini grilled cheese!)


  • 6 white onions, , sliced very thinly (with a knife/mandoline/food processor)
  • 25 g (1 oz) salted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, , minced
  • 350 ml (12 fl oz) red wine
  • 850 ml (1 1/2 pints) hot, good-quality beef stock
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) brandy
  • 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, , to taste

For the Mini Gruyere Toasties:

  • 2 slices of white bread, (see notes)
  • a knob of butter, , for spreading + frying
  • 50 g (2 oz) Gruyère cheese, thickly sliced


  1. In a large, dry frying pan, sauté the onions on a medium heat until browned. Add the butter and continue to cook until they become a deep brown colour. Add the garlic and continue to stir for 3 minutes. Transfer the caramelised onions to a large heavy-based pan with the wine, hot stock, brandy and balsamic - heat on medium and bring to a simmer. Leave to simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.
  2. Rinse and wipe the frying pan clean - now you can use it for the toasties!
  3. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Place the Gruyère cheese slices on the non-buttered side of one of the slices. Make a sandwich by placing the other non-buttered side on-top of the cheese, leaving the two buttered sides of the bread facing out.
  4. Fry the Gruyère sandwich for about 5 minutes over a medium-high heat in the frying pan, until the underside is golden. Flip and fry the other side. If the cheese hasn't melted, turn the heat down and continue to fry until the cheese starts to ooze out of the sandwich (being careful not to burn the bread).
  5. Cut the crusts off of the Gruyère toastie then cut it diagonally into quarters.
  6. Remove the soup from the heat, season to taste and ladle into heatproof bowls. Serve the Gruyère toasties warm with the soup.

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  • Angela @ Canned-Time.com April 19, 2014 at 1:35 am

    A gorgeous bowl of soup Izy.

  • em April 19, 2014 at 1:41 am

    onion soup and mini grilled cheeses is completely appropriate and delicious considering it was absolutely bloody freezing in london today!

    plus, you have literally managed to make a bowl of onions look on par with ryan gosling.

  • sue/the view from great island April 19, 2014 at 1:50 am

    I love this concept, but I’ve never seen it done quite so elegantly! And that has to be the deepest darkest onion soup I’ve ever laid eyes on. The red wine, brandy and balsamic vinegar just make my mouth water.

  • Mia April 19, 2014 at 2:40 am

    Yum! This sounds great, and in Australia cold’s just starting to set in, so to me soup sounds just right 🙂

  • Sophia @ NY Foodgasm April 19, 2014 at 2:46 am

    Damn girl you are good! These pics are killing me and I love the gif! The recipe looks amazing, I MUST check this book out!

  • Baby June April 19, 2014 at 3:36 am

    Mmmm, I need some more hot soup like this in my life. I’ve never heard of the NYT method before, so this is pretty cool. Will try ASAP. Love the cute triangles of grilled cheese too.

    • Izy April 22, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      I use the NYT method for caramelising onions ALL the time now – it works really well and cuts down on the cooking time a bunch 🙂 Let me know what you think if you get a chance to use the method yourself!

  • Belinda@themoonblushbaker April 19, 2014 at 3:46 am

    This might sounds a wee bit indulgent but I make french onion soup at least once a month. Even though the seasons why change; my craving for soup never do. Also soup is always welcome if there is grilled cheese with it.

  • Tieghan April 19, 2014 at 4:52 am

    It is still snowing here, so soup is a GOOG thing. Especially french onion with Gruyère Toasties. I mean, that is amazing!

  • Sophie April 19, 2014 at 10:57 am

    HAYYYYYY, it’s winter in ‘Frica! It’s still about 65ºF, but that’s about as soup weather-y as it gets here. Soup looks delicious! And you did a great job of making it look good, daaaang.

  • Angel Reyes April 19, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I’m glad you did. It’s a great recipe! Plus you are very good at taking pictures. You soared with the challenge!!!!

  • Mariam April 19, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I am literally in the same weather confused state as you, only I’m adapting from my favourite summery clothes to warm clothes here in Australia. It sucks. But I did do something a little clever today, I bought a white midriff sweater/knit and I can totally pull of wearing my high waisted summer maxi skirts and still be warm/not look weather confused in Autumn. Win! The soup? Fabulous! It looks so amazingly comforting – only i can’t have alcohol, could you recommend any substitutions, or should I pass on this one?

    • Izy April 22, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      That is such a clever plan!
      Thanks Mariam, I think you could probably just sub the alcohol for more beef stock 🙂

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar April 19, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    This soup looks fabulous! Love how dark it is. And those toasties?! YES!

  • Anne April 19, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Beautiful looking soup Izy! When I saw the book (didn’t see the title…) I thought you wrote it! By the way, when is your book coming out???
    The weather here has been crazy. Once I put my winter coat away, and start wearing short sleeves again the temperature drops below zero. Not kidding at all…

  • Allyson April 19, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    I’m writing this from Minnesota (upper-mid United States, near Canada), where we had snow earlier this week. French onion soup is always ideal. And really, besides the feel of the dish being wrong, there’s never really a time when onions are “out” of season, since they store so well. I make a vegetarian version of it myself using beer and mustard stock, but I’ve never topped it with grilled cheese. Now I have something to ponder. Thanks! (And I love your gifs.)

  • Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough April 19, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    MINI GRILLED CHEESUS. I don’t care what season it is or isn’t, my mouth is always ready for a meal like this.

  • kelsey from {psheart} April 20, 2014 at 5:17 am

    why is everything so much better when it’s mini!! your photos are stunning, and have left me hungry 😉
    I’m going to check out that cookbook right now too…it looks gorgeous!

  • Alice April 20, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Regardless of the season, it’s ALWAYS soup times in my book. This looks so delicious, and perfect revision fuel. Good luck with it all!

    Alice xx | The Cup and Saucer

  • Lisa @ Simple Pairings April 21, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Love the Gruyère toasts! That’s one of my favorite cheeses – what a great idea to turn them into miniature grilled cheeses and stash them on the side of a savory soup!

  • Sunnie@ModernGirlNutrition April 22, 2014 at 6:35 am

    Soup is ALWAYS seasonal hehe 😉 And oh my goodness french onion soup is so hard to take pics of, but yours are amazinggg. I’m pretty sure your photographs will always be amazing, though 🙂

  • Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody) April 22, 2014 at 7:00 am

    French onion soup is easily one of my all time favourite winter meals. This looks fantastic and as per usual- beautiful photos!

  • Heidi - Apples Under My Bed April 22, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Bam, it’s freakin freezing here in Australia so this is perrrrfect. Thank you! Oh & I saw this book for sale at my local pharmacy. All the way over here in Australia. How cool is that? x

  • Helen @ Scrummy Lane April 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    It’s great to have a good, simple recipe for French onion soup. I smiled at your ‘worry’ that this isn’t seasonally appropriate because I was thinking about making a chicken pie earlier but then started having doubts that it was ‘too wintery’! For what it’s worth, though, I think French onion soup could definitely be a spring and autumn dish, too. 😉

  • Demetria April 23, 2014 at 1:00 am

    I know what you mean about the winter coat thing! I’ve been adjusting to rummaging around in a backpack to find my essentials – so much easier to find in coat pockets!
    Your photos are so beautiful. It’s amazing how photogenic onions are.

    Also congratulations on getting editor’s choice! We photographed for Saveur the day after the winners were chosen and the assistant editor was marveling at how much you’ve done for your age with us. C:

  • Laura @ Blogging Over Thyme April 23, 2014 at 3:08 am

    French onion soup brings me back to the first day of culinary school! This is gorgeous–and that cookbook looks stunning. Can’t wait to check it out.

  • Trisha April 23, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Looks fab as per usual – love a good french onion soup! x

  • Skye April 23, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Book looks fab. Soup looks SO warm and comforting, and all round delicious – particularly the cheese toasties. And have pinned to my ‘Winter’ board – because winter will come back before we know it… Thanks for sharing Izy! 🙂

  • Maria April 23, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Good gracious.. I feel like an old woman when I say that, but really there are no other words.. So beautifully shot as usual and that recipe and that toast.. Wow..

  • Natasha @ The Perfectionist April 25, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    Yummm. Not only have you managed to photograph soup perfectly, you’ve introduced me to mini grilled gruyere cheese toasties. I will be making those soon most definitely. Also, it’s pretty cold and rainy today – nothing wrong with sharing soup and toasties at this time of year!

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  • Sophie Harriet April 28, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Looks scrumptious! I can’t believe how you make everything look so absolutely delectable! A challenge I wonder if I’ll ever conquer…

  • valentina April 28, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I really love this recipe. How the toasties go on the side and this beautifully dark soup. As for the news on your best food blog = Congrats! I just discovered your blog recently an dI just love it. I did cast a vote on Top with Cinnamon.

  • Laura @ Laura's Culinary Adventures May 1, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Yum! I never know how to dress in the spring either!

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  • PassTheKnife June 15, 2014 at 3:06 am

    No matter the season, a classic french onion soup is a great idea in my book! I love your twist with the mini grilled cheeses.

  • Amanda January 26, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    I need to make this soon. Can you (or anyone) tell me if it matters what kind of Red Wine I use? Sweet/dry Ect. I don’t want to mess this up. It sounds SO good:)

    • Izy January 26, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      I’d say a dry wine is ideal for this!

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