How to Make Panera Bread’s French Onion Soup Recipe at Home

Panera Bread’s Bistro French Onion Soup is a delicious treat with savory broth, cheese, and focaccia croutons. The recipe combines the basic elements of traditional French onion soup with unique flavor-combos. You no longer have to go out to Panera Bread to get a taste of this soup.

With this Panera Bread-inspired recipe, you can make a delicious version of this soup in the comfort of your home. So, if you’re wondering how to make Panera Bread’s French onion soup recipe at home, keep reading. We’ve got your new soup du jour!

What Makes French Onion So Good at Panera Bread?

Panera Bread’s French onion soup stands out for a number of reasons. Of course, classic French onion soup recipes are delicious, but the use of black pepper croutons makes this dish easier to eat and ensures you can have bread with every bite.

Whereas traditionally, gruyere cheese is used, Panera Bread’s blend of mozzarella and fontina adds new nuances to the traditional dish. This French onion soup is rich in flavor but low in calories, so it can fit into most diets and will leave you feeling satisfied.

Panera Bread’s French Onion Soup Recipe at Home

This recipe is inspired by the famous French onion soup you get a Panera Bread. This recipe will make around 6 servings, but it is easy to adjust based on your needs. If you are serving it as an appetizer, you can expect to get closer to 8-10 servings out of it.


  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ cup fontina, shredded
  • ½ cup mozzarella, shredded
  • 8 sweet onions, cut into strips

For Croutons (alternatively, you can buy croutons):

  • Focaccia bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)


  1. Begin by preparing your Black pepper croutons. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place your cubed bread into a large bowl. Melt your butter and then pour it over the bread cubes, and toss the mixture. Grind approximately 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper onto your breadcrumbs. Depending on your tastes, you can add other seasonings, like a pinch of garlic or a sprinkle of salt, but these are not necessary. After mixing, spread bread cubes on a lined baking sheet, and bake for around 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When the olive oil is hot, add the onions, and sprinkle the onions with salt and pepper. Cook for around 10 minutes or until the onions start to become translucent. At this point, you can add the thyme. Continue cooking at medium heat for around 15 to 20 minutes. You’ll have to keep stirring during this time. You can then reduce the heat to medium-low, and you should cook for about 5 minutes more when the onions are caramelized.
  3. Deglaze the pan using the sherry, being sure to scrape all the bits off the bottom to increase the flavor of the soup.
  4. Put the flour in a separate bowl and whisk it together with a little bit of water. You can then add this mix to the pot. Stir it in evenly.
  5. Add the broth or stock and the Worcestershire sauce. You can also add any remaining seasonings or spices. Mix thoroughly before covering the pot and bringing it to a boil. When the soup has been brought to a boil, you should turn the heat down to medium-low, and you should continue to simmer the soup for about 30 minutes. Before serving, taste to see if you want to add any more spices to meet your preferences.
  6. Fill each bowl of soup and top the bowls with your croutons and a blend of fontina and mozzarella cheese.
  7. To melt the cheese, you can use bowls intended for oven use and melt the cheese for 2 minutes with the broiler.
  8. Serve with bread, chips, or apple slices to get the full Panera Bread experience, or make new traditions of your own!

What to Serve with French Onion Soup

French onion soup can easily stand on its own as a meal, but it’s also great to have it as a side or with sides of your choosing. At Panera Bread, it’s most common to have this soup alongside a French baguette, but I also love to go for a soup and salad combo.

A cranberry walnut salad pairs really well with this soup because of how the salad combines the nutty and sweet tastes with the rich broth of the soup.

Can I Make Substitutions?

The recipe is written to give you the closest recipe to Panera Bread’s French onion soup. However, I know how hard it can be to throw a meal together on a busy day, and if you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, you may want to just do the best with what you’ve got.

One of the top questions I get is about substituting the sherry in this recipe. The sherry is important because it deglazes your pot, which essentially gets all the flavor on the bottom of your pot and loosens it so that it incorporates into your dish. This process makes the flavor richer.

Sherry is a common choice for deglazing in soups like French onion soup. However, it is not the only option you have. You can use something as simple as a bit of your stock to deglaze the pan. Using a little juice or vinegar can also work.

The key to deglazing is putting a little liquid in the pot and scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen anything that’s sticking there, and there you go! You’re good to go.

Another big question people ask about this soup is all about onion choice. Different chefs swear by different types of onions in their soups, so there’s no simple answer. Sweet onions are preferred because they help with the caramelized taste, but if you want some extra bite, yellow or red can blend the sweetness of the caramelization process with the natural bite of the onion. Thus, you can definitely use whatever onions you have on hand.

While the Panera Bread soup uses chicken broth, I actually prefer the taste of beef broth because I think it gives the soup a heartier flavor, so more often than not, I’ll use the beef broth. Vegetable broth is also a good choice if you want to make this soup vegetarian.

Is Panera Bread Soup Good for You?

Because French onion soup is one of the most popular soups across the globe, people often wonder if this soup is good for you or if it should just be a special treat. HealthReporter lists several benefits that you can find from a bowl of French onion soup. Most of these benefits come from the powerful onion, but soup, in general, is known for helping people be more satiated after meals and reducing their intake of other foods, which may have less desirable health impacts.

  • Onions are antioxidants, meaning they can help protect your cells and reduce the chance of diseases like diabetes, cancer, or autoimmune disorders.
  • Select research suggests that there could be a link between people who eat foods like leeks, garlic, and onions and a reduced risk of stomach cancer.
  • Because of their antibacterial properties, onions actually helped scientists combat bacterial pathogens like E. Coli.
  • Being quite digestible, onions can be great for your gastrointestinal health, and they can prevent the build-up of harmful microorganisms through their prebiotic abilities.
  • Due to lots of minerals like potassium, when you have French onion soup, you can reduce water retention, swelling, and even your blood pressure when you have this soup.

There are many reasons that French onion soup stands out as a healthy and filling treat that doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure.

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