panera french onion soup
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Panera French Onion Soup

What is Panera French Onion Soup?

This is the restaurant cafe’s version of the classic soup.  This version is quick and easy to make at home and tastes just like the original.  Carmelized onions are combined with thyme and beef broth and simmered into yummy perfection.

So, if I can pick Panera French Onion Soup at my local cafe, why would I make it at home?

Well, here are a few reasons you might consider making it at home:

  • Avoid the hassle.  I love the restaurant, but logistically, my local one is a bit of a mess.  There is no drive-thru and the inside ‘pre-order and grab your bag’ has been eliminated.  To get the soup, I have to either plan ahead or order on-site often having to wait for one of the two “pick up” spots to be available, which can take a while.  With tight schedules and young kids in the car, this is less than ideal, having the ability to have the soup ready when I want it is a true GAME CHANGER!
  • You can make enough for the whole family for the price of a bowl for one.  Let’s be honest, being able to save some extra here and there, without sacrificing flavor is always a plus in my book.
  • This soup keeps VERY well for meal prep or freeze-to-eat-later.  You can make one batch and eat the soup multiple times.
  • Tailor it to EXACTLY your tastes.  I know when I get the soup at the cafe I always end up needing to add extra seasonings.  Making it at home eliminates this issue as I simply make it my way from the beginning.
Panera French Onion Soup

What are the ingredients for Panera French Onion Soup?

This is definitely not a soup where you will need to search specialty markets for rare ingredients, a quick trip to your local Aldi or any grocery in your area should yield everything you will need.  Here is what you will be looking for:

  • Butter, any type you like, I used olive oil butter
  • Yellow onions
  • Beef broth
  • Vegetable or chicken broth
  • All purpose flour
  • Ketchup
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Dried thyme
  • Hot sauce, I used Texas Pete, just use your favorite
  • Baguette slices or Croutons and Provolone cheese to serve

How to Make Panera French Onion Soup

The version I present here is designed for the instant pot.  I like this version as it is the fastest to make while keeping the number of dishes to clean to an absolute minimum; however, if pressure cooker doesn’t fit your needs see below for how to adapt this recipe for the slow cooker or stovetop.  So here is what you need to do:

  • Begin by sauteing the onions in melted butter until they brown and begin to carmelize.  Then stir through the flour.
  • Simple add the remaining ingredients and set the cooking time.  
  • When the cook time is done, give the seasonings a quick check and you are ready to go.
  • Serve warm topped with provolone, baguette slices or croutons.
panera french onion soup

Can I Make Panera French Onion Soup on the Stovetop or Slow Cooker?

Absolutely!  This dish easily adapts to other cooking methods.  Here is what to do:

  • To make in a Slow-Cooker:
    • Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until beginning to brown and carmelize.  Stir through the flour until it disappears and remove the onion mixture to the bowl of the slow cooker.
    • Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker.  Set to low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours and then continue as above with the optional toppings.
  • To make on the stovetop:
    • Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until beginning to brown and carmelize.  Stir through the flour until it disappears.
    • Next add the remaining ingredients.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer 30-45 minutes until flavors are well combined.  Serve warm.

How to store leftover Panera French Onion Soup?

Any leftover soup will store well in an airtight container in the fridge for several days.  Mason jars are a great option for bringing the soup to work, etc.  The soup can also be frozen in individual containers for up to 3 months.

Panera French Onion Soup

What to serve with Panera French Onion Soup?

Here are a few ideas of what you might enjoy along with this soup:

  • Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite sides for this soup, I prefer roasted with balsamic vinaigrette
  • Baked Apples make a cozy side dish for a chilly night
  • This Asparagus Quiche is great for a brunch or light dinner
  • Roasted Vegetable Flatbreads are another super easy dish that pairs well with this soup for an easy lunch or dinner.
panera french onion soup

Instant Pot Copycat Panera Bistro French Onion Soup


  • ¼ cup butter
  • 8 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 28 oz beef broth
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Hot sauce to taste


  • Provolone cheese slices
  • Baguette slices or croutons


  • Set the Instant Pot to saute. Once warmed, add the butter until melted.
  • Add the onions and stir to coat. Continue to cook and stir until the onions begin to brown and carmelize.
  • Stir through the flour until it disappears. Turn off the saute function
  • Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of the instant pot. Seal the lid and set the manual high pressure for 5 minutes.
  • Once the cooking time is done, quick release any remaining pressure.
  • Check for seasonings and serve.

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