If you like French onion soup, you'll love its southern Italian cousin, which celebrates ingredients traditionally grown in Calabria, such as almonds and sweet red Tropea onions.






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It's all brought together with piquant extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of cinnamon. Regular red onions will also work well here. I'm assuming Tropea onions are hard to come by when you're 13,000 kilometres away from Calabria.


  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • 5 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1.5 litres good-quality beef stock
  • 100 g (⅔ cup) blanched almonds, chopped
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp raw sugar
  • salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked, plus extra leaves to serve
  • 3 tbsp freshly grated pecorino
  • crusty bread, to serve (optional)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium–low heat, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20–25 minutes until caramelised.

2. Pour in 500 ml (2 cups) of the stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 20–25 minutes until slightly reduced. Add the almonds, vinegar and sugar and stir to combine.

3. Pour in the remaining stock and simmer for a further 25–30 minutes until the onion is beautifully soft and the liquid has reduced a little. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Preheat the grill function on your oven to medium–high.

5. Ladle the soup into four ovenproof bowls. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and scatter over the thyme and pecorino. Place the bowls under the grill and cook for 2 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

6. Scatter over some extra thyme leaves and finish with a good grinding of pepper. Serve hot with some crusty bread, if you like.



Simple Italian by Silvia Colloca, Published by Plum, RRP $39.99, Photography by Rob Palmer