What to Serve with French Onion Soup: 15 Sublime Sides
What is it about French onion soup that sets it apart from any other brothy soup? Perhaps it’s the sweet, caramelized onions bathing in a sea of hearty beef stock topped with crispy garlic bread and melted cheese?
Oh yeah right, it’s the flavor!
But that’s not all…It’s truly the magic of the perfectly cooked, water-reduced, browned onions. You know, when you scrape up the bits of caramelized onion during deglazing and work all that wonderfulness into your soup.
When you combine this with with salt, wine (maybe even some cognac) and herbs you build a platform for the utmost decadence: That thick, guilty helping of crusted cheese.
This is the soup that brings you up when you’re down, and swings in the air with you when you’re riding high. But is it a full meal all by itself?
In many cases it’s not, and so what to serve with French onion soup becomes a side topic when preparing this classic. Like chicken cordon bleu, we do love a good, time-honored French dish.
Soups can be sides but sometimes they can be the main course. This one is no different. Don’t worry, we’ll cover a bunch of ideas for sides that fit the bill for whatever meal structure you’re after.
15 Sides You Can Serve with French Onion Soup Today
For hearty meals, hot sandwiches make a tasty main dish to pair with French onion soup.
On the lighter side, arugula salads with light dressings or roasted vegetables go well with French onion soup. Meats such as perfectly cooked steaks and buttery seafood will complement French onion soup perfectly.
Don’t forget your sides of fluffy rolls or bread to dip in your French onion soup!
When it comes to side dishes, you may want to balance the sweetness of those onions or perhaps even build upon it with some friendly accompaniments.
Whatever your desires are we’ve got you covered in our complete list of sides below. Enjoy!
1. Grilled Chicken Pesto Panini
Of course you love melty cheeses, and in particular white gooey cheese (or you wouldn’t be interested in eating French onion soup, right?).
So, why not get some more with a complimentary side that oozes its own brand of warm, soft running cheese? A perfectly cooked panini does just that!
It’s mozzarella cheese is a bit milder than the stronger Gruyère cheese used in your soup, so don’t worry about it being too much.
What you want to enjoy here is the heavenly partnership between the sandwich’s Ciabatta bread and pesto sauce and your delicious soup.
If you want a panini done right, look no further than Jonathan’s recipe from The Candid Appetite: thecandidappetite.com
2. Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
If your French onion soup isn’t going to be served in some dainty soup bowl, and you plan to make it your main course, you may only need fresh greens to round out your meal. Enter: Arugula
We’re not just talking your run-of-the-mill side salad though. Oh no, we’re dressing this one up for the party – but let’s call it a summer beach party, so we’ll go light and fresh.
In this case, whip up some to-die-for lemon vinaigrette with a few shaved pieces of Parmesan or Asiago cheese.
Check out Julie’s recipe on her site yumgoggle.com and you’ll be convinced this simple, healthy salad belongs on your table.
3. Garlic Butter Baked Salmon
You want some protein to eat with your onion-cheese soup, right? If you do, but don’t want to go too heavy, salmon is a great choice.
Garlic it. Bake it. Eat it. There’s not much else to it. Salmon and tuna steaks both would go well with French onion soup.
Karina from Cafe Delites calls her take the recipe of your dreams, and she’s got us all there! Go see her amazingness at: cafedelites.com
4. New York Strip Steak
Ok, now bring on the steak house outing and lay a juicy, charred steak on your best plate to go with your soup.
These two will bring you to a stop when you sit down and savor the deep flavors each offers.
Sheila from Life Love and Good Food says this steak is simple to cook and comes out great pan-seared. See how right she is at: lifeloveandgoodfood.com
5. Roasted Veggies with Mushrooms
Vegetables do well with a rich soup like this, and one of the best ways to do them up is roasting.
Now, what you put in your mix is entirely up to you, but we love, love mushrooms. They especially blend nicely with tomatoes, onions, broccoli, yellow squash, zucchini and red peppers.
If you want to just keep it simply though, go with just a few ingredients like Jo shows on her blog. Her addition of garlic and parsley is beyond goodness: jocooks.com
6. Lemon-Parsley Tilapia
Baked fish and french onion soup? Yes, it works! And since you’ll have your oven warm already to brown the cheese for your soup you bake some fish in about 15 minutes.
Tilapia with loads of butter and lemon are a light and healthy protein complement to your soup. Honestly, you’ll have a hard time deciding which dish tastes better!
This dish can made super simply, and Jennifer from Garnished Plate draws it up just right for us. Check it out at: garnishedplate.com
If you’re a fan of pasta (you know you are!) then you’ll live under the premise that noodles go with everything. Really, it’s true!
So, noodles it is for what to serve with french onion soup; and best of all this is a quick and easy side you can bring up in no time.
Natalie from Life Made Simple Bakes shows how a little recipe can bring huge satisfaction. She even reminds us about what browning the butter can do. Check it now! lifemadesimplebakes.com
8. BLT Sandwich
The second sandwich on the list of what goes well with french onion soup is a classic BLT. At it’s purest, you’ve got three ingredients joined by crunchy bread and perhaps a little mayo so it slides down easier.
All these will delight your pallet in between the bites and slurps of your soup.
You can make this sandwich the classic way as just described…or you can design and build something you’ll never forget.
Check out the video below to see what we mean. You may never make a BLT the same way again!
9. Wine (Dry White or Fruity Red)
Stirring into your onion soup may just be a light lunch or an early dinner appetizer. It’s a relaxing dish that you want to savor slowly when the moment affords it.
The same of course is true with wine. So what’s a good French onion soup wine paring? We recommend a dry white or fruity red…depending on your mood.
Dry white simply means unsweet in basic thought. This is a fresh wine that provides a strong, crisp taste. This is the contrast you probably want most against the richness of the soup’s sweet ingredients of onions and cheese.
For these whites, try some of the common ones you probably already have in your wine cellar (or dining room cabinet!): Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chablis or Pinot Blanc.
Yes, French-named wines are a perfect match with this Frenchy soup! Of course a Riesling would work well too although it it’s more of a “dry sweet” wine.
If you’re more of a red wine drinker or want to sweeten things up even more instead, then go for a red vino with a fruit forward experience.
A Syrah, Zinfadel, Pinot Noir, or a Merlot would do well. Or pick one of your favorite Italian reds (usually dry and tart) and enjoy with your savory hot cup of soup.
10. Strawberry Arugula Salad with Steak & Balsamic Vinaigrette
Let’s say, you’re hungry and ready to enjoy a full dinner of awesomeness. Well, steak and salad will do the trick.
In fact, don’t just do them in courses, combine them literally together. This will be a top-10 dinner of the year, trust us!
Just like your soup, you can get the full spectrum of sweet to umami. Oh, what a feast for your pallet.
So this is what Denise did and shows at her blog Sweet Peas and Saffron. Read it and weep with tears of joy – yes, that’s how good it’ll be! sweetpeasandsaffron.com
11. Sea Scallops in Saffron Sauce
Let’s go seafood for a minute. Let’s go scallops. And not just any scallops but a seared scallops. These little nuggets are mini bursts of heaven in each bite.
Golden brown crust with saffron sauce will bring about a striking flavor of cooked, floral sweetness.
The saffron plays so amazingly with savory and sweet, making this a terrific combo with your soup.
Paula is a sharp-shooter at preparing pan-seared scallops, and she shares her expertise at Bell’alimento. Give her a visit and try this side: bellalimento.com
12. Homemade French Bread
A lot of us like a good loaf of fresh bread when we eat any kind of soup. There are no exceptions in this case.
You either dip your bread into the beef stock like an au jus or as the purists might do, lay a piece atop your pile of swimming onions with a layer of grated Swiss Gruyere and Parmesan melting and falling off the top. Yep, bring it!
A fluffy, chewy French bread no doubt pairs well with French onion soup.
Make your bread golden brown on the outside and soft and just chewy enough on the inside. Then slice it up and lay your pieces on a plate next to your soup bowl or cup and enjoy!
Amy from House of Nash Eats shows us just how easy making this bread is. Visit her at: houseofnasheats.com
13. Citrus Salad with Bitter Greens
If you make your soup thick with onions and loads of cheese, you may want something to balance what your mouth will taste as sweet. What evens the taste bud scales here? A bit of bitterness!
So here we go; an arugula filled salad topped with some some of our favorite acidic fruits in citrus. This is what goes with French onion soup when it comes to salads.
Even if you don’t normally care for bitter, this small side salad will work wonderfully well with your French onion soup.
Laura from A Beautiful Plate demonstrates how to find the perfect combination of sour-based greens and citrus. See her mix at: abeautifulplate.com
14. Italian Steak Sandwich
Thinly sliced and well-seasoned beef, long hearty buns balanced just right with the simple heat of green peppers – what more can you ask for in a great side-kick to French onion soup?
This is a terrific “hot” sandwich that does well without cheese. We assume here you’ll already have enough of the melted dairy stuff on your soup.
Cook to your liking in terms of spiciness. Just make sure your peppers are cooked enough for the best floavor and your bread not too soft. Then make sure you relish in every bite!
15. Dark Chocolate Desserts
Of course a dark chocolate goes with anything if you’re a chocolate lover, right? But good news: Bitter-sweet chocolate goes insanely well following a bowl of French onion soup.
Don’t just grab some stuff from the store if you can help it. Make your own dark chocolate treats. Check out how easy it is in the video below.
Have a little fun and use some candy molds to add some interest to your creative and homemade dessert.
What to Serve with French Onion Soup in a Nutshell
This soup is sweet (all those caramelized onions) and savory (mounds of soft, browned cheese). Let’s not forget it’s salty from the beef broth and the salt you added to help dry out the onions.
What does this mean?
In the primary sense, you want to balance these strong tastes with opposing tastes that the tongue will long for between bites. Enter: bitter and sour.
From the list above, we can find bitterness in arugula lettuces, dry wines and of course dark chocolate. Sour can come from acidic fruits you can put on your salads.
If you desire more substance, then simply add some steak or chicken to your salads.
Honestly, French onion soup can feel more like a course within a meal instead of the main entree. So, to say you need a French onion soup side dish might not be the best way to look at it.
But since, ultimately the other food you eat in your meal are impacted by the strength of this soup you’re on the right track in looking for what to make with French onion soup,
So with this mindset, here are some ideas for what entree to serve with french onion soup.
Stick to ones with crunchy, toasted bread and dryer fillings. Your soup is a wet, soft and chewy endeavor so you may appreciate a nice balance. Warm sandwiches like paninis, roast beef, or steak sandwiches will pair great.
Think about what you might order at Applebee’s, and you’ll be fine!
Steak loves it some tasty side dishes. From veggies to the best of soups.
Pretty much any steak will do well with our spotlight soup here. Of course not all steaks are created equal, so keep the following in mind.
For instance, if you want to tone things down a bit after the rich flavors of the soup, you can go with less beefy, less fatty cuts like filet mignon or a New York strip steak (which pretty much goes with anything).
Flank steak (or London broil) cuts will give your teeth something to chew on a little more and will be an interesting contrast to the soft and slippery soup ingredients sliding across your tongue.
A Rib eye or T-bone is going to give you more intense flavors with their extra fat content, so just ask yourself if you’re prepared for so many flavor bursts in one meal!
If you prefer steak sauce, keep the sweetness of the soup in mind for what you choose and how much you use. Maybe go with one that has a little kick to it. Also avoid any super flavored steak preparation.
Stick to the basics and avoid recipes with tons of garlic for example.
Again, practically anything from the sea goes well here. From white fish and salmon to shellfish, they all are a nice complement to your sultry soup.
What Cheese Goes on French Onion Soup
Here’s our list of the best melting cheeses you can use for your soup, starting with the most popular first. Feel free to try one or a mix of two!
- Swiss Gruyere
They say it’s a French classic, but some say it’s only called French due to the long, thin cutting style of the onions (like French Fries). In the end it doesn’t really matter, right? Only that we enjoy it!
Once you know what to serve with French onion soup and how you’re going to prepare it within a meal as a whole, there’s no stopping any appreciative eaters in your house.
Pull that soup out into the open, sidle it up next to your chosen sides and dig in!