This French onion soup is warm, cozy, and flavorful with beef stock and caramelized onions. Top with sliced French bread or croutons covered in melty Gruyere, Parmesan, or provolone cheese.
Watch the video tutorial and see how easy it is to re-create this restaurant-quality onion soup recipe.
What is French Onion Soup
French Onion Soup is made of caramelized onions in a rich beef-wine broth and is served with a signature cheesy toast topping. As the name suggests it originated in France, it is timeless and well-loved.
This onion soup is often on the menu in high-end restaurants, but it’s simple to re-create at home.
FRENCH ONION SOUP INGREDIENTS:
The good news is that classic French onion soup only requires a few simple ingredients. You will need:
- 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. This comes out to about 10 cups.
- Butter: The tastiest (French) way to caramelize those onions. Although feel free to use vegan butter (or just olive oil) if you are avoiding dairy.
- Flour: To help thicken the soup. I typically use all-purpose, but you’re welcome to use a gluten-free flour blend. Or just omit the flour if you don’t mind having a thinner soup broth.
- White wine: To help deglaze the pan. If the onions start to burn a bit on the bottom of the pan while they are caramelizing, feel free to add in an extra few splashes of wine along the way to help lift those browned bits.
- Beef stock: The classic base for French onion soup, although we often sub in homemade roasted vegetable stock in our test kitchen to make this soup vegetarian.
- Worcestershire, garlic, bay leaf, fresh thyme, salt and pepper: For seasoning. Feel free to tinker around with the amounts of each. And if you don’t have fresh thyme on hand, you’re welcome to sub in dried thyme (or some herbs de Provence).
- Bread and cheese: For the cheesy toasts on top. Feel free to use whatever kind of bread (I recommend a crusty baguette) and shredded or sliced cheese (Gruyere, Asagio, Swiss, Gouda, Mozzarella, etc) that you prefer.
- Taste the soup before putting it in the oven, and if it needs more seasoning, don't be afraid to add more!
The Best Cheese to Use for French Onion Soup
Gruyere, Asiago, Swiss, Gouda, or Mozzarella are the traditional cheese but you really can use what you have on hand. The cheese will affect the flavor of the soup and experimenting with the cheese is a great way to find a new favorite profile.
Alternatives to Wine
Don't have any white wine on hand, that's okay you can use red wine. If you prefer not to use wine at all you can replace the wine with an additional cup of broth.
How to Caramelize Onions
Caramelize the onions. In a large heavy-bottomed 5-6 quart stockpot or dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 30-45 minutes until caramelized (but not burnt). Initially stirring every 3-5 minutes, then about once a minute near the end of caramelization to prevent burning*. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for an additional 1 minute. Finally, stir in the wine to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
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 together in a large stockpot, then let the soup continue to cook until it reaches a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Then remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf, give the soup a taste, and season as needed with S&P.
- Toast the 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.
- Broil. Place your oven-safe bowls on a thick baking sheet. Then once the soup is ready to go, ladle the soup into each bowl, top with the toasted bread and your desired amount of cheese. Place the baking sheet 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! While the cheese is freshly-melted and the soup is hot and bubbly. Yum.
Kitchen Items Used in Recipe
- Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
- Kaluns Kitchen Spatula
- OXO Good Grips 2-Cup Angled Measuring Cup
- French Onion Soup Bowls
savory and simple French onion soup
- 4 lbs yellow onions peeled and thinly sliced (approximately 5–6 large onions)
- 3 tbs butter
- 4 Cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoon flour
- 1 Cup dry white wine
- 8 Cups vegetable or beef stock
- 1 teaspoon orcestershire sauce
- 2 each Bay leaves
- 3 Springs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- to taste Sea Salt and fresh cracked pepper
- 1 loaf baguette
- grated or sliced cheese such as Gruyere, Asiago, Swiss, Gouda or Mozzarella
Caramelize the onions
- In a large heavy-bottomed stockpot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until well for about 30 minutes until caramelized (but not burnt), initially stirring every 3-5 minutes, then about once a minute near the end of caramelization to prevent burning*. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. 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
Simmer the soup
- Add the stock, Worcestershire, bay leaf, and thyme and stir to combine. Continue to cook until the soup reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and sprigs of thyme. Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Toast the bread
- Preheat oven to 400°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.
Broil the topping
- Switch the oven to the broiler. Once the soup is ready to serve, place your oven-safe bowls on a thick baking sheet. Ladle the soup into each bowl, then top with a baguette slice and your desired amount of cheese (I used about ¼ cup shredded cheese for each). Place on an oven rack about 6 inches from the heat and broil for 2-4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. (Keep a close eye on them so that they do not burn.) Remove from the oven and serve immediately while the soup is hot and bubbly.