French Onion Soup is a delicious blend of caramelized onions, herbs, toasted bread, and lots of melted cheese. This authentic recipe includes step by step instructions for the perfect soup!
French Onion Soup Recipe
Who could ever resist the robust flavor of an authentic French Onion Soup? Of course, the best part is the crusty bread crouton topped with melted gruyere or swiss cheese!
This recipe has been in my family for many, many years and I have developed some adaptations. If you like the robust and slightly heavy handed European French Onion with Port Wine, I have added some notes below.
How To Make French Onion Soup
Caramelize Onions: Low heat, nice and slow is the way to go. This step takes a while but the caramelization process turns the onions sweet and makes the broth pop. I find that plain yellow onions are the best.
Wine and Seasonings: Most varieties of wine work well since this soup is very forgiving. If you have leftover red, use that. Sherry, cognac, and port wine are also great options!
Simmer: A generous simmer time allows the flavors to meld and gives it a fuller bodied flavor. The broth should have a transparent dark caramel color since it is mostly beef broth.
Broiling the Cheese: Ladle the soup into oven safe bowls and top with bread and cheese. Broil until golden. If you don’t have oven safe bowls, you can broil the cheese topped bread and then place on top of the soup.
I usually make extra croutons or just serve with an additional loaf of french bread for dipping. I don’t know about you, but I love to sop up every bit of the juice and onions.
What kind of onions for French onion soup?
The best advice about making French onion soup is to use the right onions. The best onions are the plain ol’ yellow cooking onions. I once tried to get fancy with Vidalia onions and it completely changes the authentic taste.
The second important characteristic of a good French onion soup is properly caramelized onions. Caramelizing is a chemical process that occurs when the sugars in the onions reach a certain temperature and they become sweeter and darker in color. In this recipe, all of the flavor from the onions enhances the soup, so it will take at least 30 minutes to reach a good caramelization. Caramelization is very difficult to achieve in a crockpot.
What kind of bread do I use?
French Bread is the traditional and best option. However, you can use any kind of crusty bread that won’t become too soggy in water such as ciabatta or a crusty sourdough.
What kind of cheese is best on French onion soup?
The traditional cheese is a good quality gruyere cheese. It is a smooth-melting type of Swiss cheese that’s made from whole cow’s milk. I find it to be sharper and more flavorful than American style swiss cheese.
However, most restaurants use plain ‘ol swiss cheese or provolone because it is easily melted and milder in flavor than gruyere. Frankly, it is also easier to find in grocery stores.
Frequently asked questions:
There are lot of great options that go with French onion soup. If you are serving the soup as an appetizer, these dishes are excellent entrees:
Creamy Tuscan Chicken
Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops
Bruschetta Chicken Pasta
Baked Marsala Chicken Pasta
If you are looking for something a little lighter, artisan sandwiches are a great option like:
Grilled chicken pesto paninis
Bacon Turkey sandwiches on toasted wheat bread
You can absolutely make the soup base ahead of time. As with most soups, the flavors meld together and get even yummier with a little time. They should not be assembled with the bread and cheese till just before serving for the best result. You can pre-slice your toppings to save a little time and store them in a Ziploc till you’re ready to assemble your bowls.
LOOKING FOR MORE HEARTY SOUP RECIPES? CHECK THESE OUT:
- Creamy Sausage and Kale Soup
- Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- Cabbage Beef Soup
- Broccoli Cheese Soup with Real Cheese
What's For Dinner?
Signup for recipe updates and get a free cookbook of Easy Weeknight Supper Solutions!
French Onion Soup
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp Butter
- 3 lbs yellow onions – thinly sliced
- ¼ cup dry sherry wine
- 2 tsp Fresh thyme (about 2-3 sprigs)
- 1 tsp minced garlic (about 1 clove)
- 6 cups Beef stock
- 1 tsp beef base
- 8 slices French bread – Ciabatta also works
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Gruyere Cheese, sliced or grated – Swiss is also good
- Melt butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook onions until translucent and soft. Turn down heat to med-low and cook until onions are thoroughly caramelized, about 20 minutes.
- Add sherry for 30 seconds and stir to deglaze the pot. Add fresh thyme to taste and more ground pepper, if desired.
- Pour in beef stock and add beef base. Heat to simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Brush each side of the bread slices with a bit of olive oil and place on baking sheet. Cook the slices for 10-15 minutes in the oven on each side until the side starts to turn golden and is hardened.
- Heat oven to Broil. Pour the soup into oven safe bowls or ramekins. Top with bread and cover entirely with gruyere cheese. Place bowls on a cookie sheet and place under broiler until cheese melts and is bubbly. It only takes a few minutes so watch carefully. *See note if you do not have oven safe bowls.
More Great Soup Recipes: