French Onion Soup – You don’t need to travel to France to enjoy this richly flavorful and soul-satisfying French delight. Caramelized onions, well-seasoned broth, and crispy cheese bread create the ultimate comfort food experience. Who would have thought onions could turn into something so fancy? 🧅
Onion soups have been popular since Roman times. Talk about a dish with a long history! And although people think of them as a poor man’s dish (onions are undeniably a humble main ingredient), the French took things up a notch by enhancing a simple onion soup with indulgent ingredients.
Wine, cheese, freshly made bread, there’s so much more than onions in this dish. 🤤 When it’s cold out, and my inner French chef stays in for the night, you can find me in the kitchen, making some cozy French onion soup in my fancy little ramekins for dinner. Oui! 💁🏾♀️
What Is It?
What is French Onion Soup?
A few simple ingredients make up this rich soup: buttery, sweet, caramelized onions, a beefy broth, and cheesy toasted bread are the leading players here. Honestly, pretty basic ingredients and cooking techniques create something truly magical—French onion soup. But don’t take my word for it; release your inner chef and try it for yourself. 😉
- Onions – Caramelized onions, to be precise, are this soup’s main ingredient.
- Beef and Chicken Stock – After some experimentation, I found that combining these two broths gives you the most satisfying flavor as a base for the soup.
- White Wine – Wine adds a real depth to an already flavorful meal, and you definitely want white because red doesn’t look so good in this recipe.
- Herbs – Bay leaves, garlic, and fresh thyme contrast beautifully with the sweet flavor the caramelized onions lend to this recipe.
- Bread – Fresh bread tops French onion soup, making it authentic comfort food.
- Cheese – No French recipe is complete without a little cheese. This finishing touch adds saltiness and flavor to the soup.
How to Make French Onion Soup
Make the Soup
- Cook the Onions – In a Dutch oven, add olive oil and cook sliced onions on medium heat for around 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent them from burning. (Photos 1-2)
- Caramelize Them – Add softened butter, salt, and pepper into the pot and stir well to melt and coat the onions. Turn the heat down to low and let the onions caramelize, stirring constantly until they reach a deep rich brown color. (Photo 3)
- The Roux – Add in the flour and stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Then stir in the wine while scraping the bottom of the pan to remove those flavorful browned bits. (Photos 4-5)
- Seasoning – Now, throw in bay leaves, garlic, and thyme sprigs. Then give it a quick stir. (Photo 6)
- Add Broths – Add beef and chicken stock and bring to a boil. (Photos 7-8)
- Simmer – Then simmer uncovered for another 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, adjusting to taste.
Assemble the French Onion Soup
- Toast the Bread – While the soup is cooking, lightly butter both sides of the bread (or use olive oil if desired). Toast bread in the oven or a skillet for 5-7 minutes.
- Prepare the Ramekins – When the soup is ready, pour it into ramekins or individual serving bowls – just make sure they are oven safe. (Photo 9)
- Add Toast – Top each bowl with a slice or two of your French toast, followed by grated cheese. (Photo 10)
- Broil – Place bowls on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven under the broiler until the cheese melts, 2-3 minutes.
- Serve – Remove and let cool slightly. Serve with more toast if desired. (Extra toast is essential! 😜)
- Make this recipe vegetarian by substituting beef and chicken stock for vegetable stock.
- If you don’t have any oven-safe bowls to pop into the oven, you can skip the broiling step. Just make slices of cheesy toast in the oven or toaster, top your soup with them, and voila – you’ve got French onion soup.
Tips and Tricks
- Gruyere cheese is the best option for this recipe as it melts easily, and it’s also rich and smooth, but parmesan cheese also works fine.
- You can use about any onion (except red or purple, as they aren’t attractive in this recipe). While the final flavor will vary, the result will still be spectacular.
- Use a nonstick pan to caramelize your onions. Believe me, that will make your life so much easier and prevent you from crossing that fine line that separates perfectly caramelized onions from burnt ones. 😅
Making this soup ahead of time is pretty straightforward. Simply follow the instructions for the soup part of the recipe, allow it to cool, and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. The next day, heat the soup on the stove and finish by toasting the bread and broiling the cheese.
Serving and Storage Instructions
Serve this soup hot out of the oven while the cheese is still bubbling and melty. I highly recommend serving extra toast with the soup – you’ll want it for dipping once you’ve finished the topping.
Store any leftover soup separate from the toast in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for 3-5 days. You can keep the toast in an airtight, resealable bag on your countertop for the same amount of time.
You could also freeze this soup for three months; just make sure to save the bread and cheese topping part until you’re ready to serve.
Reheat leftover soup on the stovetop, and once it’s hot, add the toast and cheese and broil, just like you did the first time. Easy peasy! 😃
The best onions for French onion soup are…any onion with a neutral color! Even shallots. 😱 It’s really personal taste on this point. I prefer white onions, which are mellow and sweet with a less bitter taste when compared to red and yellow onions.
Cooking onions low and slow in a rich fat, like butter, in a nonstick pan will give you your best caramelized onions. Stir the onions frequently to avoid burning, making the whole soup taste burnt and bitter. Aim for a golden brown more than a mahogany color, and don’t be afraid to taste test.
Absolutely, because, according to studies, onions are good for you. Their anti-inflammatory properties make this soup delicious and nutritious!
What Goes with French Onion Soup
This French onion soup is a meal on its own. It is a comforting soup topped with crusty cheesy bread. What more could you ask for? But when I’m feeling a little extra, I love serving it as a starter to baked chicken breast and a tossed salad.
More Satisfying Soup Recipes to Try
- Egusi Soup
- Stuffed Cabbage Roll Soup
- Sweet Potato Soup
- Hamburger Soup
- Vegetable Beef Soup
- Cajun Corn Shrimp Soup
This recipe is one you are going to want to keep coming back to for sure. Have you tried it yet? Please review it and leave a comment because I love hearing how you used your own kitchen know-how to bring my recipes to life. 💕
Watch How to Make It
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This blog post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated with additional tips, new photos, and a video.
French Onion Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 large white onions, thinly sliced into half moons
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme (plus thyme sprigs for garnish)
- 3 cups beef stock
- 1 cup chicken stock, or replace with beef stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Baguette slices
- ½- ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (you can sub with Gruyère)
- In a Dutch oven, add olive oil and cook sliced onions on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning.
- Add softened butter, salt, and pepper into the pot and stir well to melt and coat the onions. Reduce the heat to low and let it cook, stirring constantly until the onions reach a deep rich brown color or caramelized.
- Add the flour and stir. Cook for 1-2 minutes, enough to remove the raw flour taste.
- Then stir in the wine while scraping the bottom of the pan to remove browned bits. Now throw in the bay leaves, garlic, and thyme sprigs. Give it a quick stir.
- Add beef and chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Then simmer for another 15-20 minutes uncovered—season with salt and pepper. Adjust to taste.
- While the soup is cooking, go ahead and prepare fresh bread to top the soup. Lightly butter both sides of the bread slices or brush them with olive oil.
- You can toast bread in the oven for 5-7 minutes or in a skillet.
- When the soup is ready, divide between the ramekins or individual serving bowls (if placing in the oven be sure they are oven safe). Top it with one or two slices of French toast and grated cheese.
- Place the bowls on a baking or cooking sheet and pop them back in the oven for 2-3 minutes more until the cheese melts. Remove, let them cool slightly, and serve with more toast if desired.