Until soft Sometimes confusingly written as 'until translucent', these should be soft enough to squeeze with your fingers (will take about 5-8 mins). Starting to brown Give the onions 10-15 mins and they turn golden and start to caramelise. This adds an extra dimension of flavour to your soup or tomato-based sauces. Browned Be patient, this can take up to 30 mins of gentle cooking to get the natural sugars to caramelise and brown. This is what you want for gravies, stews or braises.