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It’s a French Umami Bomb Kind of Thing

French onion soup recipe with less salt

Here’s a novel way to make traditional French onion soup as delicious as the one you eat at restaurants — but using no added salt at all.

Salut mes amis! I hope you like soup as much as I do because today we’re entering French territory and talking about a staple item – – French onion soup. No, soup is not just for when you are sick or when you had your wisdom teeth taken out (terrible experience, I know).

Eating soup is a delightful way to spend your evening reading a book at home, or meeting a friend at a café, or serving as a starter in a family dinner. Any way you decide to enjoy this heartwarming dish, I am sure you’ll enjoy it. 

This dish goes back to the 18th century made from beef stock, caramelized onions, crunchy French bread, and cheese. A fantastic combination. I bet your mouth is watering right now. Unfortunately, the traditional recipe might include more sodium than you want. Lucky you, I came up with a way to make the same traditional French onion soup as delicious as the one you eat at restaurants but using no added salt at all. 

But Stephanie, how is that possible? Well, my friends, if you read the labels of all the food you eat, the majority of them probably already include a considerable amount of sodium, and that’s why next time you visit the grocery store I suggest you read the nutrition facts on the products in your cart. The good news is that if you add a flavor enhancer to your dishes, it will do the job just fine and you will likely not add as much salt as you otherwise would. 

This recipe is simple, but it takes a couple of hours to make, mostly because it takes time to brown and caramelize the onions. If you want to feed your entire family, it is a good idea to double the recipe below because you don’t want to be the cause of any food fight or disagreement in your house (LOL). I used six onions, but I assure you it doesn’t yield that much when you have a father that eats three cups of it at a time, so imagine you have a husband like that, three kids, your mom and your neighbor at your house? Just saying… 

In this recipe, I used some key ingredients to make it very umami, and they are MSG (#KnowMSG), Trader Joe’s Umami seasoning blend (I love TJ’s, but you are free to use any umami seasoning you like) and, of course, parmesan cheese. The final flavor is an Umami Bomb!! Ready to cook? Let’s do this. 

French Onion Soup Recipe

This French Onion Soup is as delicious as you find at restaurants but is made with less sodium than the traditional recipe (no added salt).

Course Appetizer, Soup
Cuisine American, French
Keyword appetizer, soup, umami, umami recipe
Author Stephanie Hampton


  • 6 large red or yellow onions about 3 pounds, peeled and thinly sliced root to stem
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. ghee butter
  • 1 tsp. sugar or Swerve® erythritol
  • ¼ tsp. MSG*
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup cooking white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme loose
  • ½ tsp. Trader Joe’s® Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper freshly ground
  • 20 slices French bread or baguette cut 1-inch thick
  • Oregano to taste
  • Swiss cheese thinly sliced
  • Parmesan cheese shredded
  • *Popular brands of MSG include Ajinomoto® and Ac'cent®.


  1. After peeling and cutting all the onions, in a non-stick sauce pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and toss to coat with the olive oil.
  2. Cook the onions, stirring often, until they have softened, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to medium high. Add the ghee butter, the sugar (or erythritol), the MSG, and cook, stirring often, until the onions start to brown, about 15-20 more minutes.

  4. Add the garlic, the cooking wine, the beef stock, chicken stock and water. Mix everything and add the bay leaves, thyme, and the umami seasoning blend. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot and lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook for about 30 more minutes.
  5. While the soup is cooking, preheat the oven to 450°. Cut the French baguette into slices, and brush both sides with ghee butter or olive oil (up to you – about 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil and ghee butter).

  6. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and oregano on each piece of bread and put them in the oven to toast until lightly browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. After the 30 minutes has passed, turn the stove off, and discard the bay leaves from the soup.
  8. To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and place one slice of swiss cheese and one bread toast on top of each bowl of soup. Serve immediately and VOILÁ!

Hope you enjoy the video I put together while making this Umami Bomb!:

Stephanie, a guest blogger for MSGdish, is a Brazilian health/lifestyle blogger with more than 5,000 followers on Instagram. She is also a communications professional in the DC area. Stephanie believes in holistic healing, and she supports the mind, body, spirit connection for a healthy and happy life. Food for her also means medicine. Healthy eating is enjoyable at Stephanie’s kitchen because she makes sure it’s tasty, adding different functional seasonings to meals like turmeric. Going grocery shopping, cooking, exercising, meditating, practicing yoga, and traveling are Stephanie’s favorite things to do. Check her out on Instagram.

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