Spanish onion soup - with almonds, saffron and sherry

Recipe by Neil Morris - 10 August 2012

spanish onion soup

Region: Andalucia

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Oven temp: cook on the hob

Difficulty: easy

Serves: 4

If you travel in Spain you will realise that soup is taken very seriously; recipes are closely guarded secrets and everyone knows somewhere that makes 'the best soup in town'. There are some recipes, however, that are cooked in almost the same way everywhere you travel across the regions. This Spanish onion soup is a particular favourite and is popular all over Spain, in fact, tracing its exact origin is difficult with claims coming from both the Northern and Southern regions! Based on the ingredients I will attribute this soup to Andalucia but I have seen it served in the North as well so don't take my word for it!

One thing that is certain about this soup is that it tastes unmistakably Spanish; the combination of onions, almonds, saffron, sherry and paprika instantly betrays its origins and transports you straight into a satisfying daydream of hazy Spanish nights..........mmm, now where was I?

This delicious and evocative Spanish onion soup is easy to cook and like all good Spanish soups is best served with some warm crusty bread that has been drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. Simply substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock if cooking for vegetarians.

Go on, try it and see where it takes you.

Shopping list

  • olive oil (aceite de oliva)
  • 2 garlic cloves (dientes de ajo)
  • 2 large onions (cebollas)
  • pinch of saffron threads (azafran)
  • 50g blanched almonds (almendres peladas)
  • 750ml chicken stock (caldo de pollo)
  • 3 tbsp manzanilla or fino sherry (jerez)
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika (pimienton dulce)
  • 1/4 tsp hot paprika (pimienton picante)
  • fresh parsley (perejil)
  • salt (sal)
  • freshly ground black pepper (pimienta recién molida negro)


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over a gentle heat and add the chopped onions and garlic. Cover the pan and cook gently for 15 minutes to soften the onions, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile heat a dry frying pan and toast the almonds for a few minutes; then finely grind in a blender.

Once the onion is golden and translucent, add the pinch of saffron and stir thoroughly, then add the almonds and continue to stir for about 3 minutes.

Next, add the stock and sherry and stir into the onion mixture along with the paprika. Season the mixture, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.

Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a food blender. Blend until smooth and then return to a clean pan and bring slowly back to a simmer. Check seasoning.

Garnish with flakes of almonds, some chopped parsley, a few saffron strands and a sprinkle of pepper and then serve with warm crusty bread.

If the weather is warm, chill in the fridge and serve with some ice cubes!

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