RECIPE ~ Onion Panade

A panade is, by definition, a variety of things, but for the purposes of this recipe it is a savory soup made with breadcrumbs and broth. This onion panade is much like French onion soup except it is also much like a casserole. There is a lot more bread and the dish is layered like a lasagne.

Ingredients and mise en place

  • 5 medium white onions
  • 1 loaf day-old, stale French baguette, sliced and laid out on a pan to fully dry it
  • 5 tbsp. softened butter
  • Approximately 6 cups chicken stock (not broth, stock)
  • 5 oz. shredded gruyere cheese
  • 3 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Also, be sure to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Carmelize the onions

Cut the onions in half, lengthwise, and slice them very thin.


Onions halved and thinly sliced

I picked up this kitchen scoop at Sur la Table for just a few dollars. It is a great little tool to have around the house. When I worked as a pizza cook at Pizza Hut (when I was 15), they had this type of scoop and it was handy then too.


Kitchen scoop

Heat the butter in the pan, over medium-high heat. Once the butter is sizzling, place the sliced onions in the pan. Stir them until all of the onions are coated with the butter, then salt them and then stir them a few more times. Cover them with a piece of parchment paper.


Onions just starting to cook


Onions covered in parchment paper, cooking over medium-high heat

The parchment paper is a very important trick. I think it is better than a lid, because no matter what temperature you are using, if you put a lid on the dish, eventually it will heat up a lot inside and you’re ultimately using high heat. But with the parchment paper, you’re covering the food without the issues of the lid.

It will take about 40 minutes to carmelize the onions. For most of this time, you’re cooking them over medium-high heat and stirring them very occasionally. If the onions burn (get black) then you have to start all over; they are not salvageable if they burn. So watch them closely. But resist the urge to stir them a lot too.

Prepare the chicken stock, bread and cheese

While the onions are carmelizing, heat the chicken stock over low heat until it simmers. Ladle some of the stock over the bread. Be generous — be sure to cover all the bread.


Ladling broth on the bread

Then, shred the gruyere and parmesan cheese. Gruyere cheese is from a specific area of Switzerland. It is heavenly delicious, with a very notable flavor that doesn’t overwhelm a dish.

I also love parrano cheese, from The Netherlands but marketed as an Italian cheese, and think that would put a really interesting twist on this recipe. Parrano is a type of gouda that is so delicious. We go to Whole Foods in the Belmar area in Denver metro, and they often have free samples of parrano. If you stumble upon free samples, take a handful. Paranno is also good just sliced up with fig jam and hunks of fresh French baguette. I would still mix parmesan into the parrano.

For this dish, I used 5 oz. of gruyere and 3 oz. of parmesan, and I think I’d use this same ratio if I was using parrano.


Gruyere and parmesan -- oh how I love cheese

Finish carmelizing the onions then deglaze the pan

After about 40 minutes of cooking the onions at medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, they will get close to being finished.


Onions starting to carmelize

Continue to cook them until they are carmelized. Once they are nearly finished, turn down the heat and finish them off, then remove them from the pan.


The carmelized onions are nearly finished

After you remove the onions, pour the white wine into the pan to deglaze it.


Deglazing the pan

I think deglazing is nice because it gets all those tasty bits off the bottom of the pan. Once the alcohol cooks down, pour this in with the onions and give them a stir.

Prepare the panade layers

This recipe can be made in a 9 by 13 inch pan. Tonight, I opted for my souffle pan because I thought it would look prettier. It did! Start with a layer of bread.


Start with a layer of bread

Top the bread with a layer of the carmelized onions and then top that with shredded cheese.


First layer of the panade

Add two more layers. Before you add the final cheese on the top of the panade, pour the remainder of the hot chicken stock over the dish.


Panade ready to go into the oven

Bake the panade in the 350 degree oven for about an hour. It will rise a bit, the way a souffle rises. Here is the final dish! Delicious. Top it with chopped fresh parsley if you wish. We enjoyed it all by itself with a little pinot grigio.


The final panade -- delicious!

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Categories: Soups


I love to cook but have a lot to learn. This blog is about learning to cook.

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3 Comments on “RECIPE ~ Onion Panade”

  1. November 14, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    I have read all the recipes and love the presentation. The step by step directions with pictures are easy to follow. Your added tips from your class at The Cook Street Shool of Fine Cooking in Denver shows that you have professional knowledge about cooking, thus putting the reader at ease at trying the recipes.

    I am not sure if you are including the number of servings that each recipe is making. That would be helpful.

    Thank you so much for sharing. I loved it! You should write a book about this!


  2. April 27, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    Looks like you made this ages ago, but I was going to make it this week, so I Googled “onion panade.” I have Alice Waters’ recipe from The Art of Simple Food. Your final product looked amazing. Was it as good as it looked?


    • April 27, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

      It has been awhile since I made it, but it was very delicious! I’ve made it in a rectangular baking dish and a souffle dish, as you see in this posting. It was equally delicious in both shapes, but far prettier in the souffle dish!

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