When I think of onion soup, I think of French Onion Soup. And we all know that that stuff isn’t really a soup: it’s a vehicle for people to load up on bread and melted cheese. I’ve never understood that, even in my former life as a cheese fiend. I could eat cheese for every meal (and often did, ack!) but I never got the appeal of goopy melted cheese that solidified and oozed grease into an overly sweet soup. Blech. Oh, and soggy bread. Because that was never a good thing, people.
One of the first recipes that went up on this site was actually a de-bread-and-cheese-fest-ed version of French Onion Soup. It was simple to make, with a richness and natural sweetness from plenty of caramelized onions. The only bummer about that recipe was that it required babysitting a pan of caramelized onions: not exactly an arduous task, but not super practical on a weeknight! That’s where a pressure cooker comes in handy for this new version, Quick Onion Soup.
I’m a sales hound when it comes to kitchen equipment, so when the Instant Pot – an electric and programmable version of a pressure cooker – went on sale on Black Friday, I scooped one up for myself. Honestly, I figured I’d probably get it, wonder what all the hype was about and send it back. Because, yay, Amazon Prime. It turned out to be pretty freaking cool, though. I have a standard pressure cooker at home that I never use. I actually bought it years ago for canning, but it’s enormous and I’d honestly always found the thing unwieldy and intimidating. The Instant Pot, by contrast, is about the size of a large slow cooker, simple to use and works perfectly – and it doesn’t need babysitting when it comes to managing the pressure. I love the thing.
So when I wanted to make a weeknight-friendly quick onion soup recipe, I decided it would be a good test for the Instant Pot. And it worked wonderfully, only needing 10 minutes under pressure to make a flavorful onion soup, no babysitting needed. You can use whatever stock or broth you like, but I’ve found that this recipe is at its most tasty when I make it with home made pork stock, since it adds a lovely richness that doesn’t overwhelm the sweet onions but has more of a flavor punch than something like chicken broth. Traditional recipes are often made with pork stock – or even a ham bone thrown in the pot for good measure! I like to blend the onions into the soup at the end, since that gives a nice creamy texture and would actually make a great gravy, too. One other thing – using a mandoline to slice the onions thinly is a life saver!
- Cut the onions in half through the root, peel them and slice them into thin half moons. Set the Instant Pot to "Saute" and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions. Cook the onions until they have reduced down and become translucent, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 15 minutes.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and scrape up any fond from the bottom of the Instant Pot, then add the stock, salt, bay leaves and thyme. Turn off the Instant Pot and close the lid of the Instant Pot, making sure to check that the float is free and the vent isn't blocked and that the lid is set in the "Sealing" position.
- Set the Instant Pot to "High Pressure" and cook the soup for 10 minutes once it has come up to pressure. Allow the pressure to release using the "natural release" - don't open the vent or hot liquid may gush out of the vent along with the steam.
- Discard the bay leaves and thyme stems, then blend the soup together either using an immersion blender directly in the pot, or by transferring the soup carefully to a blender.
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