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.

Recipe Summary

prep:
20 mins
cook:
1 hr 45 mins
total:
2 hrs 5 mins
Servings:
6
Yield:
6 servings
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Ingredients

6
Original recipe yields 6 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist
For the Toast:

Directions

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

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  • 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.

  • 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.

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

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

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

  • 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

308 calories; protein 9.4g; carbohydrates 37.7g; fat 14.6g; cholesterol 2.2mg; sodium 1749.9mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (6)

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Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
06/29/2019
I had the most amazing onion soup in Florence and I've been scouring Italian cookbooks for the recipe ever since. This is it!!! My friends could not imagine onion soup with almonds when I described it. I made this recipe exactly as directed with the bit of cinnamon and it was perfect! I'm serving this at my next dinner party. It is so much more interesting than french onion soup. Thank you for posting this recipe!!! Read More
(2)
7 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 6
  • 4 star values: 1
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
06/25/2019
So glad I found this recipe. French onion soup is one of my favorites but this is far better. Yummm! Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
06/28/2019
I had the most amazing onion soup in Florence and I've been scouring Italian cookbooks for the recipe ever since. This is it!!! My friends could not imagine onion soup with almonds when I described it. I made this recipe exactly as directed with the bit of cinnamon and it was perfect! I'm serving this at my next dinner party. It is so much more interesting than french onion soup. Thank you for posting this recipe!!! Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
03/10/2019
This variation from Chef John is spot on for authenticity. Follow his directions and you'll enjoy the forerunner of French onion soup. The subtle hint of cinnamon and sage are contrasted against the sweetness of the oh-so-slowly cooked red onions. Watch the video and he'll tell you that for photo opportunity he placed the toast on top of the soup. Traditionally the toast is placed in the bottom of the bowl and the hot soup is poured over. To make it super authentic top the bowl of soup with a gently poached egg. Thanks Chef John for another great recipe. This recipe has bumped my French onion soup out of the usual rotation. Read More
(1)
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Rating: 5 stars
03/03/2020
It was hearty and a little sweet. Go very light on the cinnamon; I thought I went light and was still surprised by how prominent it is. I pan fried the bread in olive oil to get a tasty golden crust on both sides and melted freshly grated parmesan on top. Served it old style, bread on the bottom, soup on top. A bit more cheese then. It is both delicious and surprisingly unique. Wasn't very hard to make. Two thumbs up, give it a try! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
05/09/2019
I made this with the baking option because I don't have a big enough skillet for so many onions. 325 was a little high for my oven but 300 cooked the onions to the right consistency with minimal crispy ends. A large sheet pan and plenty of olive oil were perfect to do this and I stirred often over the course of an hour or more. I swore I wouldn't use too much cinnamon but I think I did. I think that's why I liked this rather than loved it. With the cheese toasts two more tsp. vinegar to the pot and lots of fresh ground pepper it was still good but I won't use cinnamon next time or just glance at the jar. Overall a good way to make onion soup. Thanks Chef John! Read More
Rating: 5 stars
04/24/2019
Do NOT go into making this if it is just before dinner time. Taking the time suggested by Chef John is well worth it to produce a spectacular soup. And if 4 pounds of onions seems like too much - wrong! They cook plumb down and are deliciously sweet with the seasoning. The crusted bread topping was delicious and built to impress. I would not have thought of sage but was delighted with the result. Read More
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