Margarita's International Recipes

Italian Renaissance


Onion Soup


This is a vegan optional recipe.

Carabaccia, or onion soup, is an old Tuscan recipe dating at least to the Renaissance, if not earlier. As the story goes, it's the ancestor of French Onion soup, Catherine de' Medici's Italian chefs are supposed to have accompanied her when she moved to France upon her marriage to Henry, Duke of Orleans. It's no wonder the recipe impressed the French, it's absolutely delicious and highly satisfying. After having a huge bowl, I'm craving some more.

As old as Carabaccia itself is, I don't know exactly how old the recipe I used was. Some of the ingredients, such as sugar, seem to be modern. I'm sure during the renaissance they actually used honey. I did make some modifications to this recipe - most importantly adding the bread which is common in most other recipes I found -, but I kept the sugar because it's easier to add at the end and I wanted diners (OK, my family) to be able to control how much sweetness they wanted. I'm also not sure why this particular recipe calls for three different kinds of onions, most of the other ones called for just red onions. I used the three kinds, but I only had one white onion so my proportions were different to those of the cookbook author. As it worked out so well, I can't complain.

Even though the main recipe I use omitted the bread, I think it's an essential ingredient. Even after being toasted, the French bread I used (unfortunately my local supermarket didn't have any Italian bread) disintegrated after the steaming hot broth was added, and the whole dish turned into a very thick but soft broth. That said, my daughter did not like that texture and preferred the soup without the bread.




  • 3 Tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 red onions, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 qts + 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup lemon juice or white or red wine vinegar
  • 6 oz slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup shredded/grated Pecorino-Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • A loaf of Italian bread
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 cup sugar


Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium low heat. Add the yellow onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the red onions and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes. Add the white onion and repeat.

Add 4 cups of vegetable broth to the pot, bring to a boil and continue cooking for a few minutes until it reduces a bit. Add the remaining broth, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the lemon juice and almonds in a small or medium saucepan. Heat over medium and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Strain the onions into a large bowl, reserving both. Return broth to the pot and put on the stove over low heat. Working in batches, transfer the onions, half of the almonds and the Pecorino cheese (if using) to a blender or food processor. Puree. Alternatively, place these in a large bowl and puree using an immersion blender. Return onion mixture to the broth and mix. Season to taste. Add the remaining almonds/lemon juice mixture and 3/4 tsp cinnamon. Simmer for 5 minute or until you are ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice bread into thick slices and drizzle with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and toast in the oven.

Meanwhile, mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Transfer bread to a soup bowl. Cover with onion soup. Serve with olive oil, Parmesan cheese and the cinnamon sugar mixture to add to the soup as wanted.

Adapted from a recipe in Donaldo Soviero's La Vera Cucina Italiana

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