One of my favorite soups, this French onion soup is easy to make, flavorful, and incredibly comforting. The time it takes to caramelizing the onions makes the soup worth it.
I think I was about 10 years old when I was introduced to this soup and it is has been a favorite of mine ever since. What initially made me love it was the cheesy bread on top. I just couldn’t get enough and to this day when I make it I have extra slices near by. Although it takes a while to caramelize the onions the wait is completely worth it and those flavors will make you fall in love with the soup all over again. Plus you get to add a little bit of white wine so why not have a glass while you cook?
In this recipe
One of the great things about this recipe is that while there are a few ingredients all of them are easy to get ahold of since I am sure you don’t have 3 pounds of onions on hand. If you do then this is a perfect recipe to use them up!
White wine: You want to chose a dry white wine some good options would be Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or an unoaked Chardonnay. Also make sure that it is a wine you enjoy drinking normally.
Onions: You will want to use a sweet onion such as a Maui onion. Those are the kinds I prefer to use as well however a red onion will work as well.
Beef broth: The richest flavor will come from a good beef stock however if you want a less intense beef flavor you can mix it half and half with chicken broth.
Caramelizing the onions
The longest part of this recipe is making sure that the onions are well caramelized. To do this you will want to heat up the oil and butter and then add the onions. At the beginning you will not need to stir them as often but you will want to make sure you stir around every 3 minutes or so over medium heat. This will help keep the onions from burning. If you rush this part you might end up with charred onion bits. At first they will soften and then slowly caramelize. Towards the end of the cooking you will want to almost be continuously stirring.
Deglazing the pan
You want to make sure you get all of the fond, the cooked bits on the bottom of the pan, incorporated back onto the onions. You can do this by adding a liquid to the pan to allow those bits to dissolve and come off the bottom. You want to do this with the wine so that you can cook out all of the alcohol before you add the broth. This will also intensify the flavors that are in the wine which is why it is important to make sure you cook with a wine that you like to drink. Once the wine has reduced you are ready for the stock.
Broiling French onion soup
This is something you will only want to do if you have a ovenproof bowls that can handle broiling. It is important that if you are doing to do this you don’t skip toasting the bread first. Otherwise the bread will soak up all of the soup and get soggy very quickly. You want to make sure that the bowls are at least 6 inches away from the heating element and then cook for just a few minutes like 2-4, and keep an eye on it to prevent burning. However you can broil the bread with the cheese on a sheet pan instead and then place it on top of the soup bowl.
Looking for other soup ideas?
French Onion Soup
- Dutch oven or another heavy bottomed stock pot
- Large spoon
- Oven proof bowls optional
- Sheet pan
- 1 loaf French bread sliced into 1 inch thick slices (8)
- 8 cups beef stock low sodium
- 3 pounds sweet onions sliced thinly
- 6 ounces Gruyere cheese grated about 1 1/2 cups
- ½ cup dry white wine such as pinot grigio
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese shredded
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced about 3 cloves
- ½ tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme about 1 tablespoon fresh thymes leaves or ½ tablespoon dried thyme
Caramelizing the onions.
- In a Dutch oven or a heavy bottomed stock pot over medium high heat melt the butter and oil together.
- Add the onions, reduce the heat to medium, and sauté until caramelized. This will take about 30 minutes and will require stirring at intervals of about 3 minutes. As they get more caramelized the more you will need to stir to prevent scorching.
- Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes and then add the wine to deglaze the pan, using a spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
Let the soup simmer
- Add the stock, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and thyme and then stir. If your beef broth isn't low sodium don't add the salt and taste before adding additional salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and discard. Taste the soup and add additional salt if needed.
Toast the bread.
- Preheat oven to 400°F, 220C or gas mark 6. While the soup is cooking place the slices of bread on a sheet pan. Bake for 3-4 minutes on each side. The bread might still be pale and that is ok. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Broil the soup.
- Change the temperature and setting of the oven to broil or grill. If you do not have oven safe soup bowls then add the gruyere and parmesan cheese on top of the bread already on the baking sheet and place back into the oven at least 6 inches from the element and cook for 2-4 minutes. Watch carefully so that the cheese or bread does not scorch.
- If you are using oven safe bowls, place the bowls on a baking sheet, add the soup, place a slice of bread on top, and then top with the gruyere and parmesan cheese. Place into the oven at least 6 inches from the element and cook for 2-4 minutes. Watch carefully so that the cheese or bread does not scorch. Remove from the oven and serve immediately while the soup is hot and bubbly. Be careful as the bowls will be very hot.