I’ve got a heartwarming story to share with you today, and of course, it involves food – because what’s a better way to bond with family than over a delicious meal?
Picture a shivering 11-year-old me at ski school for the first time.
I wasn’t having the best time, but the thought of lunch kept me going.
My little heart soared when I read the words “Classic French Onion Soup” on the menu, and it was love at first bite!
That magical moment sparked a lifelong quest to perfect my very own French onion soup recipe.
I’ve worked tirelessly to recreate that cozy, warm feeling that washed over me as I savored every spoonful on that cold winter day.
I’ve experimented to achieve the dreamiest cheese pull and the perfect broth for dipping that last piece of crusty bread.
And now, I’m so excited to share this special recipe with you all!
As you might’ve guessed, French onion soup hails from – you got it – France! Back in Roman times, onions were an inexpensive, easy-to-grow crop. Onions provided a flavorful ingredient to a simple dish that even the poorest in town could prepare.
The recipe was then brought over to the United States in the mid-18th century by a chef named Henri Mouquin and his wife, who owned a restaurant in New York. Henri lived in Paris, where he learned of the recipe, before taking it with him to New York.
It is recognized for its bubbling cheesy topping accompanied by crunchy bread.
There are 3 key points to remember when making this recipe that will ultimately lead to your success.
- First up, don’t burn the onions. To achieve that buttery, brown coloring on the onions, it’s important to cook them at a high enough temperature to brown but not high enough to burn. I have made my fair share of mistakes when making the soup; burning the onions is the top 3.
- The second is to use high-quality cheese. I mean the really good stuff. Traditional favorites like Comté or Gruyère are perfect for adding that scrumptious, melty finish to your soup. Their mild yet sweet flavors really complement the dish. Sure, shredding a block of cheese takes a little extra effort, but it’s so worth it.
- Lastly, use a mix of onions. Why settle for just one type when you can mix and match for maximum flavor? Combine white, red, and even sweet onions for a mouthwatering medley that adds depth to your soup. With so many options available at your local grocery store, there’s no reason not to get creative.
You may be familiar with most of the ingredients in this recipe, making it even more tempting to try and recreate it at home. Let’s talk a little bit about the staple ingredients:
- Onions – For a truly tantalizing taste, combine red and yellow onions. This blend will not only make your soup look more vibrant, but it’ll also enhance its scrumptious flavor profile.
- Beef Broth – The secret to a rich, hearty French onion soup lies in its beef broth base. But don’t worry, vegetarians, you can easily swap it out for vegetable broth. Though the taste will be slightly different, your soup will still boast a deep, satisfying flavor.
- Gruyere Cheese – This luxurious, melted cheese crowning your soup is the hallmark of a top-notch French onion soup. Trust me, you don’t want to skimp on the cheese. Can’t find Gruyere? Look for French Swiss instead—it’s a fantastic substitute with a very similar taste.
- French bread – Use a crusty French baguette or roll to withstand the soup’s robust texture. Tear or slice the bread into chunks, then let the soup work its magic, turning those pieces into heavenly French onion croutons that you simply won’t be able to resist.
Preparing the onions is the first step to the perfect French onion soup. Over medium heat, add olive oil to a dutch oven or large soup pot. While the oil is heating up, slice the onions into slices. The thickness or thinness is dependent on your preference.
Once the oil is hot, and the onions are chopped, add the onions to the dutch oven and stir. Turn the heat to a low medium and saute the onions until they are translucent and beginning to brown.
Once they begin to brown, stir in the sugar, butter, and garlic. Turn the heat back up to medium and continue to cook the onions until they are fully browned and cooked. You may notice some sticking to the dutch oven’s bottom. That’s okay! That browning is going to bring so much flavor into the soup.
We will add white wine to the dutch oven to absorb that flavor. Deglaze the dutch oven by stirring in the wine and scraping up all the browning on the bottom of the pan.
Turn the heat low and add the beef broth, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Cover the dutch oven with a lid and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes. This will bring all the flavors together for the most delicious soup.
After 30 minutes, remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes. This will thicken the soup a little and make the flavors more pronounced.
While the soup is finishing simmering, chop the baguette into chunks. If you prefer slices, this is fine too!
Lastly, it’s time to build a bowl of delicious soup. Lay a few pieces of bread in the bottom of a bowl, and pour the soup leaving about 1 inch to the top of the bowl. Then put another layer of bread on top and sprinkle with gruyere cheese.
Broil the bowl of soup in the oven for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and melted over the top of the bowl.
It will be super hot, so be careful. Nonetheless, enjoy!
A salamander is required to melt the cheese. A salamander is an overhead oven/broiler that reaches extremely high temperatures. Most conventional kitchens are not equipped with salamanders, but they have an oven. Use your oven’s ‘BROIL’ setting to achieve the bubbly, cheesy, melted topping.
The entire cooking process should be done in one pan. This allows all the flavors from the garlic, onions, butter, white wine, and bay leaves to immerse themselves into one perfectly crafted soup. Use a large stock pot or dutch oven for cooking this recipe perfectly.
Modifications can be made to tailor this recipe to your needs. They include:
- Veggie Delight: Want to make this dish vegetarian-friendly? No problem! Swap out the beef broth for vegetable broth. While this may result in a lighter broth rather than a rich one, your soup will still be scrumptious and bursting with flavor.
- Onion Medley Magic: Ideally, using a mix of red and yellow onions will give you that perfect French onion soup taste. But hey, life happens, and you might only have sweet or white onions available. Don’t fret! Your soup will still embody all the traditional flavors of a classic French onion soup, no matter which type of onion you use.
- Wine-Free Wonder: Although white wine adds a touch of dryness and depth to the broth, it’s not a deal-breaker if you want to leave it out. Use more broth to deglaze the pan, and you’re good to go. Your soup will still be a delightful hit without it!
🧅 How do you deepen the flavor of French Onion Soup?
The secret is all in the onions! Try adding a pinch of sugar while you sauté them to enhance their caramelization. This little trick will unlock even more deliciousness.
🍲 What broth is French Onion Soup made of?
Beef broth or stock is the way to go. It’s richer than chicken or vegetable broths, giving your soup that wonderful depth of flavor and heartiness.
What are the best onions for French Onion Soup?
While yellow onions are the traditional choice, don’t be afraid to mix it up! Combining different onion varieties can create an even more interesting flavor profile.
There’s nothing like a bowl of French Onion Soup to warm you up after a chilly day outdoors. Don’t let those fancy restaurant versions intimidate you – with just a few easy steps; you can bring this classic dish to life in your own kitchen. So grab a bowl, indulge in that bubbly cheese, and savor the comforting goodness of this timeless recipe! Bon appétit! 🥄
French Onion Soup
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 yellow onions
- 3 red onions
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 garlic cloves chopped or minced
- 2 tbsp butter
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- 8 cups beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 French baguette
- 2 cups gruyere cheese shredded
- Over medium heat, add olive oil to a dutch oven.
- Once the oil is hot, add the onions to the dutch oven and stir.
- Cook the onions for 10-12 minutes or just until the edges begin to brown.
- Stir in brown sugar, butter, and garlic.
- Continue cooking until onions are browned and there is a glaze on the bottom of the pan.
- Pour in white wine and deglaze the dutch oven.
- Turn stove heat down to low.
- Add beef broth, bay leaves, salt, and pepper, and cover with a lid.
- Cook for 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and let the soup simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Chop the baguette into small pieces as desired.
- To build the soup, place baguette pieces at the bottom of the bowl, spoon soup into the bowl, top with more pieces of baguette, and then sprinkle cheese on top.
- Broil on HIGH for 3-5 minutes, remove from the oven, and serve!
My name is Noha.
I’m passionate about food, an avid traveler, and I love to explore new cultures and cuisines whenever I get the chance by sharing my recipes and experiences with my readers.
A big fan of exploring different cuisines and always looking for new and exciting flavors to explore. I’m especially interested in healthy eating and finding ways to make delicious dishes without sacrificing nutrition.