Herbal Onion Soup Mix (with a SECRET Ingredient)

As our days get busier, we are far more likely to reach for pre-packaged mixes and other convenience foods to lighten our load and make dinner prep a bit easier. These are some of my favorite homemade kitchen helpers you can make in advance and keep handy for those extra-hectic evenings… or even the non-hectic ones. Work smarter, not harder!

Onion soup mix is one of those versatile multitaskers that’s good for so much more than just soup. It’s fast and easy to make and tastes so much better than the store-bought stuff. No contest. And this version gets an extra boost of nutrition with an herbal “secret” ingredient…


It’s a bit cliché since nearly all herbalists say this, but nettle (Urtica dioica) is easily one of my favorite and most used herbs. It’s an easy one to incorporate into recipes because of its lovely salty/mineral-y flavor. Nettles are considered a nutritive herb, high in zinc, potassium, calcium, chromium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and vitamins A, C, E and K. Fresh nettle can be used anywhere you would normally use spinach, but for this recipe, I want the mix to be shelf stable, so I’m using dried.

A bit more about nettle:

A word about commercial bouillon and MSG

For a soup-base recipe, there is a notably absent ingredient. 

Bouillon. Don’t you need the delicious umami flavor of bouillon to make it taste like soup? 

In short, no.

We choose to avoid commercial bouillon products because most, if not all of them contain various GMO corn derivatives and synthetic MSG. Yep, even organic ones that don’t have the words “MSG” explicitly listed in the ingredients and proudly proclaim that they’re “MSG-free” contain hidden sources of processed free glutamic acid, otherwise known as MSG.

Processed free glutamic acid is found in ingredients like hydrolyzed (whatever) protein, textured protein, yeast extract and natural flavor. Even the benign-sounding (and head-scratchingly vague) “spices” is a legal loophole for hiding MSG.

Okay, but doesn't nutritional yeast also contain MSG?

It does! 

So does homemade broth. 

But it’s not the same. I’ll let the Weston A. Price Foundation explain why:

“The issue of monosodium glutamate, or MSG, in nutritional yeast is a sensitive one. Yeast-based products naturally contain glutamic acid, an amino acid that is found in abundance in plant and animal proteins. Glutamic acid and glutamate (its ionized form) are considered essential for life and are critical for gut, brain and immune health. Both are found in high amounts in traditional foods like bone broth, matured cheeses and cured meats. MSG on the other hand, is the isolated sodium salt of glutamic acid, which is a synthetically created compound used to enhance the flavor of processed foods. Both naturally occurring glutamate and MSG contain glutamic acid, but the compounds behave differently in the body. Nutritional yeast does not contain MSG unless it is added. Individuals who are sensitive to glutamate products, however, may opt to avoid nutritional yeast due to the inevitable presence of glutamic acid.”

Nutritional yeast adds a lovely umami flavor (sometimes described as “nutty” or “cheesy”) as well as B vitamins to the soup mix without the bad stuff. Since we use a fair amount of nutritional yeast at our house, I prefer to buy non-fortified.*

If you are very sensitive to even natural sources of glutamic acid and need to minimize your exposure, then feel free to omit the nutritional yeast. The soup mix still works!

* Note that if you are relying on nutritional yeast to supplement your B vitamins, be aware that non-fortified nutritional yeast contains only the B vitamins that result naturally from the fermentation process. This does not include B12 (an important thing to note if your diet excludes animal products like meat, dairy and eggs).

There are literally a million + 1 ways to use onion soup mix. 

Okay fine, maybe not “literally.” There might actually be MORE than a million and one ways to use it — including as a sour cream-based vegetable dip, onion gravy, meatloaf, salad dressing, Swedish meatballs, chicken, pot roast, Salisbury steak… 

…the list goes on and on. 

And on and on…

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Herbal Onion Soup Mix

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  1. Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight container.
  2. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. 
  3. Use 4-5 tablespoons in a recipe in place of 1 packet of onion soup mix.


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