Onions have long been believed to have restorative powers. They are lauded for boosting immunity, regulating blood sugar, reducing inflammation and promoting heart health. Rosemary is also said to help increase immunity, soothe the stomach, stimulate blood flow and (if you’re into essential oils) is often used to boost mood. All that being true, it makes sense to use them both for soup. And people have been doing just that for eons.
While the modern version of French Onion Soup is reminiscent of Medieval fare and dates back to 17th century France (hence the name French Onion Soup), onion soups themselves date all the way back to Ancient Greece and Rome. French Onion Soup is about as pure a comfort food as you can get. It’s rich and tasty, filled with butter, oil, and spices and topped with toasted (usually French) bread and decadent cheese! There’s nothing quite like it warm you from the inside out on a chilly evening.
But with all those fats and carbs, it’s off limits unless it’s cheat day, right?
Just because you’re eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all the flavors and feelings French Onion Soup conjures up! Plus, you get to keep a little cheese (although we’re going to use just a bit of Swiss instead of the traditional Gruyere). In fact, you can get excited because this recipe replaces the carb-heavy bread with protein-packed chicken breast. The finished dish boasts lots of protein (approximately 32g) thanks to the chicken and cheese, is low in sugar and fat, and, because you won’t be topping this dish with a traditional slice of French bread (or any other kind), the carbs stay pretty low.
French Onion Chicken (2 servings)
1 Tablespoon + ½ tablespoon olive oil, separated
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¾ cups low-sodium beef broth
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (intact)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 slices thin-cut Swiss cheese
- Heat olive oil in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sprinkle with a dash of salt. Cook about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to keep from burning.
- Stir in garlic and balsamic vinegar and sauté about two minutes more.
- Add sprigs of rosemary and beef broth ¼ cup at a time. Simmer until all broth has evaporated, stirring frequently to deglaze pan.
- Discard rosemary sprigs and set onions aside.
- Trim fatty pieces from chicken breasts.
- Rinse chicken, pat dry, and season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Add ½ tablespoon olive oil to warm pan onions were just removed from and swirl to coat.
- Cook chicken through (4-5 minutes per side) on medium-high heat.
- Top chicken breasts with onion mixture (divide evenly and use all).
- Lay slice of Swiss cheese over onions, encasing both them and the chicken.
- Turn heat to low and top pan with lid for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.
- For a well-balanced meal, serve this main dish with brown rice, whole wheat noodles, or baked gold potatoes (in place of French bread) and a lightly steamed green vegetable (like broccoli or asparagus) tossed gently with a dash of olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt.
- For a more indulgent (but still healthy) meal, eliminate the balsamic vinegar and replace the beef broth with a dry red wine. Then, when you add the Swiss cheese, put a dash of brandy or sherry into the pan before you cover it to melt.
- If you like rosemary and the leaves don’t bother you, use 2 teaspoons dried rosemary or 2 stalks worth of fresh leaves pulled from the stem and don’t discard them when the onions are finished.
- If you’re meal prepping for the week, take the cheese- and onion-covered breasts and store in a freezer-safe dish and freeze until ready to eat. To reheat, microwave 5-6 minutes (or until chicken is heated through, but not tough).
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