A bowl of French onion soup with cheese can range from 300 to 500 calories depending on the recipe, ingredients, and portion size. Here’s a closer look at the typical calorie count.
On average, a bowl of French onion soup with cheese contains around 400 calories. However, this can vary anywhere from 300 to 500 calories depending on factors like:
- Onions – The main ingredient is caramelized onions which are relatively low in calories.
- Oil – The amount of oil used to caramelize the onions impacts calories.
- Broth – Using beef or chicken broth adds more calories than vegetable broth.
- Bread – A slice or two of bread can add 80-160 calories.
- Cheese – Melted cheese significantly increases the calories. Using Gruyere adds the most.
- Serving Size – Larger portion sizes mean more calories.
Detailed Calorie Breakdown
Here is a more detailed look at the typical calorie count of each ingredient in French onion soup with cheese:
Onions are the main ingredient and provide significant bulk to French onion soup. One medium onion contains around 45 calories.
To make a French onion soup, you need 2-3 onions that have been sliced and caramelized. That equals 90-135 calories just from the onions.
To caramelize onions, you’ll need to use oil. Typically 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter is used.
1 tablespoon of olive oil has 119 calories. So oil can add 119-238 calories depending on how much is used.
French onion soup is classically made with beef broth but you can also use chicken or vegetable broth.
One cup of beef broth has around 100 calories while chicken and vegetable broth have closer to 50 calories per cup.
Since 2-3 cups of broth are used in most recipes, broth adds 100-300 calories.
It’s traditional to top French onion soup with bread and broil it so the bread gets toasted and cheese melts.
A 1 ounce slice of French bread has around 80 calories. So 1-2 slices can add 80-160 calories.
Melted cheese gives French onion soup its signature flavor. Some common choices are Gruyere, Swiss, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
Here are the calories for 1 ounce of melted cheese:
- Gruyere – 106 calories
- Swiss – 111 calories
- Mozzarella – 85 calories
- Parmesan – 111 calories
Most recipes call for 2-4 ounces of cheese which provides 200-400 calories.
Bowls of French onion soup can range in size from 8-16 oz. A larger portion means more of every ingredient and thus more calories.
A typical restaurant serving may be 12-16 oz while a serving at home would more likely be 8-12 oz.
Calories in Common Recipes
To give a sense of the full calorie count, here are the calories for some typical homemade and restaurant French onion soup recipes:
|Homemade Classic Recipe
|1 cup (8 oz)
|Restaurant Classic Recipe
|1 bowl (16 oz)
|Light Homemade Recipe
|1 cup (8 oz)
As you can see, calories in French onion soup dishes can range from 280 to 510 depending on serving size and ingredients used.
Tips for Lightening Up Your French Onion Soup
Here are some easy tips to lighten up traditional French onion soup:
- Use vegetable or chicken broth instead of beef broth.
- Go easy on the amount of oil when sautéing the onions.
- Use 1 slice of bread instead of 2 to cut those calories in half.
- Choose a lower-fat cheese like mozzarella or Swiss.
- Use just 1-2 ounces of cheese instead of 3-4.
- Make sure your portion size is closer to 1 cup versus 2 cups.
- Skip the bread and cheese altogether for an ultra light onion soup.
In summary, a typical bowl of French onion soup with cheese will contain around 400 calories. This can range from 300 to 500 calories depending on the specific ingredients and recipe. Sticking to vegetable broth, lighter cheeses, smaller portions, and other tweaks can help keep the calories down while still enjoying this classic soup.