Tuscan Onion Soup (Carabaccia)


I've wanted to make carabaccia ever since I found out it was the ancient ancestor of French onion soup. They say that when made with vegetable broth, it was the favorite soup of vegetarian Leonardo da Vinci. Now you can add these interesting facts to your dinner party conversation repertoire. As for the cinnamon, the safe play is to not add any and live happily ever after. But in tiny amounts it lends a mysterious, warming background note.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
1 hrs 45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 5 mins
6 servings


  • 4 pounds red onions

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 3 leaves sage

  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • ground cinnamon

  • ¼ cup finely ground almonds (Optional)

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, or to taste

  • 5 cups beef broth, or more as needed

For the Toast:

  • 3 thick slices Italian bread, halved

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste, divided

  • 3 leaves sage, or to taste, sliced into thin strips

  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste, divided


  1. Trim ends off onions; halve and peel. Cut onions into thin slices lengthwise along the grain.

  2. Heat olive oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and kosher salt. Cook and stir until starting to turn translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and sweet, about 1 hour.

  3. Add sage leaves, pepper, cinnamon, and almonds to the onions. Cook and stir until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a soup pot. Pour in red wine vinegar and broth. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until flavors blend, about 30 minutes.

  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil.

  5. Place Italian bread on the baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil over the bread; sprinkle sliced sage and some Parmesan cheese on top.

  6. Toast in the preheated oven until browned, about 15 minutes.

  7. Ladle soup into serving bowls and top each with a piece of toast. Drizzle remaining olive oil over the toast and sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top. Dunk toast into the soup and let soak for a few minutes before serving.

Chef's Notes:

If you want to cut down on stirring, you can bake the onions in a roasting pan at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C), stirring a few times along the way. Take your time and wait until they are very soft.

You can also use chicken or vegetable broth in this.

While traditional, many people don't enjoy the effect cinnamon has on the sweetness of the soup, so you may want to omit it, or add an extremely small amount, and then adjust from there. If you don't add any to the pot, you can still experiment by adding a trace amount to a small sample cup, and see what you think.

Substitute Pecorino cheese for the Parmesan if desired.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

308 Calories
15g Fat
38g Carbs
9g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 308
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 1750mg 76%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 7g 23%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 23mg 113%
Calcium 144mg 11%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 634mg 13%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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