Five allium soup

October 31, 2010 § 2 Comments

Five allium soup is my name for this version of onion soup. It’s not going to win any beauty contests, but this is one of the best-tasting and most comforting soups I know. While generally I’m not a huge soup fan, I’ve yet to not enjoy any version of onion soup (it helps that I love onions), and this one is my adaptation of – you guessed it – a Jamie Oliver recipe. Even if, unlike me, you’re not really an onion fan, I think you’ll really enjoy how such humble ingredients become a rich, luxurious soup that chases away the autumn chill.

My version of the classic onion soup combines whatever ingredients I had on hand. Normally onion soup is made with beef stock, but since I had homemade chicken stock, I decided to use that instead. Then, I added in herbs that managed to survive my windowsill of doom, so I added in rosemary and thyme. It’s a bit lighter than a heavier beef-stock version, but I think it’s just as nourishing and comforting as the original.

Since this is five allium soup, you’re going to obviously need five kinds of alliums! I chose yellow onions, red onions, shallots, leeks, and garlic.

Begin chopping: finely mince the four cloves of garlic…

the five shallots…

and slice the two leeks into rings.

I swished around the leeks despite their uncanny cleanliness, and then of course slice the seven onions into half circles.

In a large stockpot, combine two tablespoons or so of butter, a tablespoon or two of olive oil, the shallots and garlic, and the herbs: I used about three sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked, and two sprigs of fresh thyme and a pinch of dried since I was worried I’d kill the thyme plant otherwise.

Toss in the leeks too.

and then cook everything for about ten minutes on low heat.

Add in the rest of the onions and cook for about fifty minutes, again still on low heat. They will cook down a lot.

It’s really important to occasionally stir the onions and to maintain the low, slow method – it really makes the different flavors come out. Pour in about two quarts of stock (I chose homemade chicken stock, but beef is classic and vegetable stock is vegetarian, so go with what you have on hand), and bring to a simmer. Cook about ten more minutes.

Add in salt and pepper to taste too.

For toppings I like my family’s traditional cheese toasts: toast some bread with cheddar cheese on top, and float on top of the soup.

For extra flavor, Jamie Oliver recommends drizzling over a bit of Worcestershire sauce, and it is a simply divine addition, even if the French would probably freak out! (Maybe that’s why I like it so much…)

Five allium soup

Adapted from Jamie at Home

Serves six to eight


  • Four cloves of garlic, minced
  • Five shallots, minced
  • Two leeks, washed and sliced into rings
  • Three yellow onions, sliced into half-moons
  • Four red onions, sliced into half-moons (you can mix and match the larger onions depending on what’s available)
  • Three sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
  • Three sprigs of thyme, leaves picked and chopped
  • Two tablespoons butter
  • One to two tablespoons olive oil
  • Two quarts stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable, depending on taste)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce, cheddar cheese, and toasted bread, to serve

1. Wash garlic, leeks, shallots, and onions. Mince the garlic and shallots, slice the leeks into rings, and slice the remaining onions into half-moon slices.

2. In a large stockpot, heat butter and olive oil. Add in rosemary and thyme. Stir in garlic, shallots, and leeks and cook over low heat for ten minutes. Add in the rest of the onions and cook for about fifty minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add two quarts of stock of your choice and bring soup to a simmer for an additional ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. To serve, toast bread with cheese on top, and float on the soup bowls. Drizzle over a bit of Worcestershire sauce, again to taste. Enjoy!

Note: to make this soup vegetarian, use vegetable stock and omit Worcestershire sauce or swap in a vegan one (Lea & Perrins, the brand I use, is not vegetarian).


Oliver, Jamie. “English Onion Soup with Sage and Cheddar.” Jamie at Home. New York: Hyperion, 2007 (146).


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