French Onion Soup
My all-time favorite French Onion Soup recipe — surprisingly easy to make, and full of the best flavor.
Can you tell that I have been craving caramelized onions lately?
After posting tutorials this past week for how to make caramelized onions the traditional way (on the stovetop) and my still-can’t-believe-it-works modern way (in the slow cooker), I thought it was only appropriate that I pull up an old recipe from the archives for classic French onion soup. Also known as — the ultimate ode to caramelized onions.
I initially posted this recipe in my third month of blogging back in 2009, but French onion soup and I actually go way way back. Like, back to my days in high school and college when a can of Campbell’s French onion soup was one of my favorite after-school snacks. I didn’t know much about cooking, but I could whip up a batch of the canned stuff like a pro. When I lived with an oven, I would pop a slice of sandwich bread on top with some shredded cheese and toast up a bowl to melty perfection. And even when I lived in a dorm without ovens, I quickly figured out how to improvise with a hot piece of toast sprinkled with cheese that tasted about the same. I loved French onion soup.
And of course, I still do. But nowadays, my pantry is happily free from overly-processed cans of soup, and I have learned instead how much more delicious this soup is when made from scratch with homemade caramelized onions. So if you love it too, join me and let’s make a batch homemade.
Easy French Onion Soup Recipe | 1-Minute Video
French Onion Soup Ingredients:
The good news is that classic French onion soup only requires a few simple ingredients. You will need:
- Yellow Onions: You can use white, yellow or red onions for French Onion soup. But to make it the classic way, you will need 5-6 large yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced.
- Butter/Flour: To help thicken the soup.
- White Wine: To help deglaze the pan.
- Beef Stock: Which is classic, or you could sub in veggie stock to make vegetarian French onion soup.
- Garlic, Worcestershire, Bay Leaf, Thyme, Salt and Pepper: These classic seasonings are a must. :)
How To Caramelize Onions:
The first step to making traditional French onion soup is to transform that big pile of onions into the decadent, sweet, irresistibly caramelized onions that will form the rich base of this recipe. It’s a really simple process, but it does take some time. So turn some music on, maybe grab a glass of wine, and get ready to hang near the stove for awhile as we work some onion magic.
To make the caramelized onions, simply melt the butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add your onions, and toss so that they are coated in the butter. Then let them cook for about 5 minutes, give them a stir. Cook for 5 more minutes, give them a good stir. And continue this rhythm — stirring the onions every 3-5 minutes or so — until the onions are dark golden brown. (Feel free to read more details about the stages of caramelizing onions in this post.)
Add the wine, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all of those delicious browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Then the rest is easy!
How To Make French Onion Soup:
Once your onions are caramelized and ready to go, simply:
- Add the remaining ingredients. Stir the stock, Worcestershire, bay leaf and thyme to the onions. Stir and bring to a simmer. Then reduce heat and simmer the soup for about 10-15 minutes, to let all of those flavors come together. Discard the bay leaf and sprigs of thyme. Then taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Prep your bread. While the soup is simmering, go ahead and prep your toppings as well. If you’re going the traditional route with a slice of bread, toast it in the oven or in a toaster until it is nice and golden. And get your grated or sliced cheese all ready to go.
- Broil your toppings. Then place your oven-safe bowls on a thick baking sheet, and ladle the soup into each of them. Top with a baguette slice and your desired amount of cheese (I used about 1/4 cup shredded cheese for each). Place on an oven rack about 6 inches from the heat and broil for 2-4 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly, keeping a close eye on the cheese so that it doesn’t burn.
- And…serve! Nice and hot, while the cheese is still melty, of course. :)
French Onion Soup Toppings:
That said, a quick note on toppings! If you don’t happen to have oven-safe bowls for this recipe, or if you would just prefer to skip the oven part of the recipe all together, you can also just use a toaster to toast your slices of bread. And then sprinkle the cheese on top of the bread while it’s still hot, to make it nice and melty. Then just top your soup with these cheesy toasts. It’s not exactly the same as the classic method, but it’s a delicious shortcut.
As far as the bread itself goes, feel free to use any kind that you love. (French baguettes are traditional, or you could also sub in some crispy croutons.) And as for the cheese, Gruyere, Asagio, Swiss, or Mozzarella would all be delicious.
What To Serve With French Onion Soup:
Looking for some good side dishes to serve with this recipe? Here are a few of my faves:
- Everyday Salad
- Roasted Artichokes or Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Berry Fruit Salad or Winter Fruit Salad
French Onion Soup
This classic recipe for French Onion Soup is comforting
- 4 pounds yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced (approximately 5-6 large onions)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 6 cups of beef stock
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs of thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- a few generous pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- grated cheese (Gruyere, Asagio, Swiss, or Mozzarella)
- In a large heavy-bottomed stockpot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until well browned and caramelized (but not burnt), about 30-40 minutes, stirring every 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the flour and cook for an additional 1 minute. Stir in the wine to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Add the stock, worcestershire sauce (optional), bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 10-15 minutes, partially-covered. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf and sprigs of thyme.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. While the soup is simmering, slice the baguette into 1-inch thick pieces and arrange them in single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the bread is toasted and golden around the edges. Remove and set aside.
- Switch the oven to the broiler. When ready to serve the soup, place your oven-safe bowls or crocks on a thick baking sheet. Ladle the soup into each of them, then top with a baguette slice and your desired amount of cheese (I used about 1/4 cup shredded cheese for each). Place on an oven rack about 6 inches from the heat and broil for 2-4 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove and serve immediately.
*If you do not have access to a broiler or would like to save time, I also love just topping this soup with croutons and shredded cheese.
(Recipe updated in January 2015.)
If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!