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French Onion Soup

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French Onion Soup

Most people think of French onion soup as “restaurant food” but it actually originated as a simple peasant dish made from onions, stale bread, and water. Modern versions of onion soup are more elevated, for sure, but it’s still easy to make at home. The key to success is patience. The onions need to be cooked slowly so that they sweeten and turn a rich brown color without burning. This process takes about an hour and requires frequent stirring so it’s the perfect recipe for a cold and lazy weekend. Once I get the onions going, I like to pour myself a glass of wine, call a girlfriend, and putter around the kitchen. In addition to giving the onions the proper time and attention, I use a few little tricks I picked up while working in a French restaurant, like adding a bit of sugar to enhance the sweetness of the onions, stirring a bit of flour into the onions to add to add body to the broth, and topping the croutons with both Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

If you don’t have ovenproof crocks for the soup, don’t worry—you can just top your soup with melty cheese toasts or serve them on the side. And if you want to get a head start, go ahead and make the broth and toasts several days ahead of time. When it’s time to eat, simply top the soup with the toasts and cheese and flash the crocks under the broiler.

how to make french onion soupTo begin, in a large Dutch oven or soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the oil, onions, salt, pepper, and sugar.

how to make french onion soup

Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until onions are deep golden brown and caramelized, 45 to 55 minutes.

how to make french onion soup

In the beginning, you will only need to stir the onions only occasionally. As they start to brown midway through cooking, you will need to stir them frequently, scraping the fond (the brown particles) from the bottom of the pan.

how to make french onion soupAdd the wine and raise the heat to high.

how to make french onion soup

Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape any fond from the bottom of the pan, until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the onions are jammy, 8 to 10 minutes.

how to make french onion soupAdd the flour.

how to make french onion soup

Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute or until the flour is dissolved.

how to make french onion soup

Add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and bay leaves to the pot.

how to make french onion soup

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes. Add the sherry, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If the soup needs a deeper flavor, try a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce. If it’s not quite sweet enough, add 1/4 teaspoon sugar.

how to make french onion soup

While the soup simmers, preheat the oven to 400°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.

how to make french onion soup

Bake until the bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

how to make french onion soup

Adjust an oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on a baking sheet and divide the hot soup among the crocks (be sure the soup is very hot as it won’t warm up much in the oven). Top each crock with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices).

how to make french onion soup

Sprinkle evenly with Gruyère and then Parmigianno Reggiano.

how to make french onion soup

Slide the crocks into the oven and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. (Alternatively, if using regular soup bowls: Top each toast slice with some cheese and return to broiler to melt, about 2 minutes more. Divide the soup among bowls and top each serving with two cheese toasts.)

how to make french onion soup

Let the crocks cool for a few minutes before serving.

how to make french onion soup

My Recipe Videos

My Recipe Videos

French Onion Soup

Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds Vidalia (or sweet) onions (about 5 medium), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small baguette, cut into 1/2-in slices
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 8 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 2 heaping cups; look for one imported from Switzerland)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Instructions

  1. In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the oil, onions, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until onions are deep golden brown and caramelized, 45 to 55 minutes. In the beginning, you will only need to stir the onions only occasionally. As they start to brown midway through cooking, you will need to stir them frequently, scraping the fond (the brown particles) from the bottom of the pan. If the onions are browning too quickly, reduce the heat slightly or add a few tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan and continue cooking.
  2. Add the wine and raise the heat to high. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape any fond from the bottom of the pan, until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the onions are jammy, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.
  4. Add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and bay leaves to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes.
  5. While the soup simmers, preheat the oven to 400°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until the bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  6. When the soup is finished, add the sherry; taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If the soup needs a deeper flavor, try a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce. If it's not quite sweet enough, add 1/4 teaspoon sugar.
  7. Adjust an oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on a baking sheet and divide the hot soup among the crocks (be sure the soup is very hot as it won't warm up much in the oven). Top each crock with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Gruyère and then Parmigianno Reggiano. Slide the crocks into the oven and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let the crocks cool for a few minutes before serving. (Alternatively, if using regular soup bowls: Top each toast slice with some cheese and return to broiler to melt, about 2 minutes more. Divide the soup among bowls and top each serving with two cheese toasts.)
  8. Make-Ahead Instructions: The soup can be made and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead (without toasts or cheese), or up to 3 months ahead and frozen. Toasts can be made (without the cheese) and kept sealed at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (5 servings)
  • Calories: 642
  • Fat: 31 g
  • Saturated fat: 17 g
  • Carbohydrates: 53 g
  • Sugar: 19 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 31 g
  • Sodium: 1,697 mg
  • Cholesterol: 82 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • Thanks Jen for a great recipe. Made a couple of changes did not have gruyere cheese so I use Fontina cheese and use croutons instead of the bread. We always order french onion soup at restaurants but to me this was the best one ever.

    • — Peggy on February 13, 2019
    • Reply
  • After searching and experimenting with other recipes, my search ends here because this one is perfect. I followed the recipe exactly except for the sherry because I didn’t have it. This is not a quick dish to make, but its enjoyable and the results are well worth it!

    • — Erin Wilson on February 13, 2019
    • Reply
  • The Revol soup bowls come in a variety of sizes. What size are yours? I would like to purchase but I want the right size. Thanks.

    • — Ann on February 12, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Ann, Mine are about 14 oz.

      • — Jenn on February 12, 2019
      • Reply
  • Made this over the weekend and it was wonderful, didn’t deviate from the recipe except to add a touch more thyme and Worcestershire sauce. My hubby is used to the kind you mix out of a box and loved the “meatiness” of the onions. He also said how the box kind is so salty when he compared it to mine. All in all, it was a fantastic soup and I don’t think he’ll eat the box stuff again! You converted him Jenn! Thank you!

    • — Cathy M. on February 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • So excited to try this!! Question: how much soup do you ladle into each bowl?

    • — asra on February 11, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Asra, It really depends on the size of the bowl. You want the soup about 1 inch from the rim. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 11, 2019
      • Reply
      • Ok great thanks ! Any suggestions for sub for the dry sherry ? Don’t think I have any on hand

        • — Asra on February 12, 2019
        • Reply
        • Cognac would be wonderful – or you can just leave it out. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on February 12, 2019
          • Reply
  • I made this last night and it was amazing! I think it was even better than the French Onion Soup we had in Paris last summer. My daughter made the Rustic French Apple Tart (from your site) and we had a very special meal on an ordinary Sunday. Thank you another great recipe!

    • — Robyn on February 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • French onion soup is one of my favorites. I’ve attempted several recipes for it in the past with indifferent results. I followed this recipe to a T, including the boxed beef broth, and the result was spectacular. My husband swooned. I licked my bowl. I intend to try the recipe again with the chicken stock that so many reviewers recommend, but Jenn’s recipe is such a winner that it’s hard to imagine how it could be better.

    • — Susy on February 10, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Wow, this sounds delicious. I was just wondering if you can recommend a brand/type of store to get dry sherry? Can you also recommend a good sherry vinegar, or are these the same thing? Thank you so much!

    Warm regards,
    Natalie

    • — Natalie on February 8, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Natalie, No need to spend a lot – Taylor or Savory and James are both good brands for cooking.

      • — Jenn on February 9, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn ,
    Can’t wait to try this recipe. Just like all of your other rec. that we’ve tried , I’m sure this one is as delicious !
    Just wondering where those beautiful soup bowls are from . I’ve been wanting to purchase some for some time now. These look perfect ! Of course I would expect nothing less from you ☺️
    Cheers!
    Lyn

    • — Lyn on February 8, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Lyn, I think I got them from Sur La Table. Hope you enjoy the soup!

      • — Jenn on February 8, 2019
      • Reply
  • I am a vegetarian. Can I use vegetable stock?
    Thank you

    • — Cathleen I Christian on February 8, 2019
    • Reply
    • If you’re able to use beef or chicken broth, I’d recommend that, but if not vegetable stock will do. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 8, 2019
      • Reply
  • Jenn, Love your site and have made many of your recipes. Quick question, how long does Sherry last after you open a big bottle and do you refrigerate it after opening? Most receipes only call for small amounts of it.

    • — Becky on February 8, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Becky, That’s a great question. Conventional wisdom says dry sherry lasts for about a week in the fridge after being opened but I have found that it keeps much longer. I store it in the fridge for months without any issues (I wouldn’t drink it after that long but for cooking it’s fine). You could also try freezing it in cubes, as explained here. Hope that helps and glad you’re enjoying the site!

      • — Jenn on February 8, 2019
      • Reply
  • I’m looking forward to trying your recipe with one change-I haven’t found a store beef broth I like and hardly ever make one, so I use chicken broth and a can of condensed beef consommé. It helps with making it mellow tasting. Your onion cooking tips make such good sense. Can’t wait 😊 and will come back to rate.

    • — King Carol on February 8, 2019
    • Reply
  • A yummy recipe…..except that I caramelize the onions overnight on the low setting in my crockpot. No stirring or over-browning. Onions are ready for the soup or for any recipe which calls for caramelized onions.

    • — Carolyn S. on February 7, 2019
    • Reply
  • We don’t do alcohol. Do you have any suggestions on substitutions? Thanks

    • — J on February 7, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi J, It’s fine to leave it out. You might just add a tablespoon of lemon juice for a touch of acidity. Hope you enjoy it!

      • — Jenn on February 8, 2019
      • Reply
  • Thank you soooooo much for creating and sharing this recipe! We’ve stalked your blog weekly hoping we’d see a French Onion Soup recipe. We are making it this weekend 😃

    • — Tina on February 7, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hope you enjoy!!

      • — Jenn on February 8, 2019
      • Reply
  • Do you have nutritional values available?

    • — Joan on February 7, 2019
    • Reply
    • I just added them – hope you enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 9, 2019
      • Reply
  • I’m making this next week. I love onion soup and this recipe looks great. I will have to depart from one of your instructions: “Once I get the onions going, I like to pour myself a glass of wine, call a girlfriend, and putter around the kitchen.”

    The wine and puttering are O.K. but my wife will strenuously object to me calling a girlfriend. 🙂

    • — Gary Cole on February 7, 2019
    • Reply
    • 😂

      • — Jenn on February 7, 2019
      • Reply
  • I am so happy that you posted this recipe today. My family loves French onion soup, and I can’t wait to make this tonight! Thank you for always coming up with new inspirations.

    • — Sameera on February 7, 2019
    • Reply
  • Question: I have had NO luck finding a commercial beef broth with any real flavor, so, unless I have a homemade beef broth (which is rare), I have been using chicken broth when making French onion soup. I will definitely be trying out your recipe; do you have any suggestions regarding substituting chicken broth?

    • — Kate on February 7, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Kate, you can substitute chicken broth with no additional adjustments. (I’ve seen plenty of onion soup recipes that utilize chicken broth instead of beef broth.) Hope you enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 7, 2019
      • Reply
    • A national name brand soup company has beef consommé in cans in your local grocery, that is what the FO soup recipe I use calls for. I think it is better than the box stuff. I also find that the little packets in the instant oodle noodle packages make for a flavorful base stock in a pinch. I know they aren’t the best health wise, but they do have flavor when you are out of bouillon or don’t have chicken or beef stock in the cupboard. I do watch adding any additional salt to whatever recipe if I use those. I live in the country so you do what ya gotta do when there is no store to run to. 🙂

      I LOVE to make stock for FO soup w/the leftover liquid/broth from the classic slow roasted chuck roast w/onion soup mix, potatoes, onions, celery, mushrooms, and carrots. I add extra water to the crock pot so I will have more liquid to use as stock to make the FO soup. I strain out any tidbits of meat and veg, and chill overnight so I can skim off any fat. The flavor from the simmered vegetables w/the beef makes it sooo good! It makes all the difference in richness and flavor. It also freezes well, because I agree, homemade French Onion soup is a lazy day puttering project! Salad croutons also make for a great substitute when you don’t have a baguette on hand. That living in the country thing again!

      • — Ruby on February 8, 2019
      • Reply
  • Jenn your the best! Thank you!😉

    • — Kerrie on February 7, 2019
    • Reply
    • Awww… thanks Kerrie! ❤

      • — Jenn on February 7, 2019
      • Reply
  • This almost exactly matches the recipe I use all the time, and it’s excellent. The only difference is that I use homemade chicken stock, instead of beef broth. The result is very close to the beef broth, but the chicken stock is more available to me, and it allows the onions to shine.

    • — Meg Mayo on February 7, 2019
    • Reply

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