French Onion Soup

By • February 15, 2010 23 Comments

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Author Notes: French Onion Soup is one of the first dishes I ever taught myself to make and is still one of my favorite winter comfort foods. Here's my recipe for it on my cooking webseries, Working Class Foodies:

Food52 Review: This is almost, but not quite, the traditional French onion soup that comes to mind. It starts with a full 3 pounds of onions and some smashed garlic, which you caramelize slowly and thoroughly in butter and olive oil. You add thyme and bay leaf and some rich veal stock (homemade is highly recommended both by wcfoodies and by us), and then it's time for the crowning glory: 2 full cups of wine or beer. We used a dark ale and really liked the bit of kick that the finished soup still had after 2 plus hours on the stove. Take your time with the onions, and use the three-cheese combo instead of a deli slice. And don't forget to put a piece of toast in the bottom of each bowl -- it makes for a lovely surprise. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 4-6

  • 3 pounds onions
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 generous pinch of salt
  • a few good grinds of black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4-6 cups beef, veal, and/or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 cups red wine, preferably a burgundy, OR
  • 2 cups beer, preferably a brown ale or stout (not chocolate)
  • 1 baguette or other crusty bread
  • 4-6 deli slices of cheese, OR
  • 1/2 cup EACH of gouda, gruyere, parmesan & pecorino
  1. Slice & segment 3 pounds of onions.
  2. Melt together the butter and olive oil in a large stockpot.
  3. Crush and peel the garlic. You don't have to mince it; it will caramelize and turn soft and sweet as it cooks. Caramelize the garlic in the olive oil and butter.
  4. Pour in the onions, season with salt and pepper, and stir around just until the onions are all coated in the olive oil/butter.
  5. Add in the fresh thyme and the bay leaf and let the onions caramelize, about 20 minutes.
  6. Once the onions are caramelized and have cooked down, pour in the stock, about 4-6 cups depending on whether you prefer your soup more onion-y or more soup-y.
  7. Then, pour in the wine or beer and simmer, uncovered, for at least an hour and as much as three hours, tasting occasionally to adjust the flavors.
  8. Meanwhile, slice down your bread. Stale bread is perfectly okay for this, just heat it up a bit in a warm (250ºF) oven first to soften it. Toast the bread; you can rub both sides with a cut clove of garlic first, if you like. You'll want 2 pieces of bread per person - one for the bottom of the bowl, and one for on top.
  9. If you're going for the mix of cheeses, grate together about 1/2 cup each of parmesan, pecorino, gouda, and gruyere. Alternatively, you can drape a deli-cut slice of cheese (emmentaler, gruyere) over the top of the bowls, but I like to do a grated mix. Get that ready, and set it aside.
  10. Preheat your broiler. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the soup.
  11. Arrange your oven-safe individual serving bowls or coffee mugs on a baking tray with a thin lip.
  12. TO SERVE: drop a toast slice in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle in the soup and cover with a second slice of toast. Then cover the toast with cheese. Be generous! You want the cheese to seal in the soup and drape over the edge of the bowl.
  13. Broil for a few minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling on top. Garnish with a little fresh thyme, and serve.

More Great Recipes: Soup|Vegetables|Soups|Bread|Olive Oil

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Comments (23) Questions (1)


7 months ago ihaventpoisonedyouyet

Have made this about 5 or 6 times and boy oh boy is it good, but am I the only one who cannot caramelize 3 lbs of onions in 20 minutes? I find they need at least 45 to 60 minutes.


almost 3 years ago Hilarybee

My husband loves this soup! I made it with English Ale and gruyere cheese. Wonderful, thanks!


almost 3 years ago Muse

This sounds absolutely wonderful...can't wait to make it! Thank you for sharing your recipe.


over 3 years ago jlm086

Just made this last night and it came out great! I did make some minor changes. For the carmelizing, I probably let the onions cook 30-40 minutes. I like them a deep golden, almost brown color. Also threw in some soup bones to give the broth a more "meaty" flavor during the 3 hour simmer. For the cheeses. I mostly used a nice guyere and a little bit of fontina that I had left over from another dish.

I also contacted one of my friends who is a chef. to ask him about which alcohol to use. He recommended sherry or marsala since beer gets bitter while it is being cooked over a lengthy period. I used a cheap dry sherry. I think it was Taylor's, and only $6 a bottle.

Overall, totally pleased with this recipe. Definitely will be using it again.


almost 4 years ago chop chop

OK, I did kind of combine parts of the recipe here with another recipe from another site. I like the beer in the soup, and most of the recipe but prefer a triple de-glaze method in the oven instead of cooktop. But I have done this twice just recently and I have gotten a hint of a bitter aftertaste that I can not identify why. Can the beer do that or what would you suggest as the source of this or my error in that regard? Thanks.


over 3 years ago wcfoodies

Depending on what kind of beer you used and if it was a little old, it could be the beer. It could also be a result of using old onions. Perhaps try replacing the beer with red wine next time, or cutting the alcohol entirely?


over 4 years ago Thistlepie

just made this soup! The best ever onion soup! This made my New Year's weakened. Thank you.


over 4 years ago HandRocksLadle

Wow. Made this tonight (a cold night in Atlanta) and my fiance and I loved it! Used a can of Guiness, parmesan and smoked Gouda. Yum!


over 5 years ago shayma

If I had some veal stock at home I would adore to have this tonight. The wind has been howling all day. It's a day for onion soup and a nice wine :) This is a perfect recipe.


over 5 years ago nannydeb

Congratulations! We love French Onion soup and can't wait to try yours!


over 5 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratualtions! I can't wait to try making it this way!


over 5 years ago thirschfeld

congrats, that is a nice onion soup. I haven't made onion soup this year. I am going to give this a go.


over 5 years ago NakedBeet

I've always made french onion soup with a sherry, but I love this beer variation and the 3 cheese combo is a nice touch!


over 5 years ago coffeefoodwritergirl

This looks very delicious. Love the addition of pecorino to the cheese mix.


over 5 years ago gabrielaskitchen

We live in the same city, I think we need to have a dinner party with your soup my bread pudding!


over 5 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Oh, yum! Delicious flavors - AND beer!


over 5 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I make my French Onion soup with beer too and agree that it adds such an amazing depth of flavor to great traditional soup! I'll definitely have to try yours too!


over 5 years ago gabrielaskitchen

OMG, I second EWing, this recipe is absolutely scrumptious!


over 5 years ago Ewing

I made this a few weeks ago for my family. I just used Parmesan and gruyere and beef stock. It would have been nice to have this up in text rather than rewinding the video numerous times. None the less still love the show and this dish was a hit!


over 5 years ago wcfoodies

Hi, Ewing! Thanks for giving the recipe a shot, I'm thrilled you and your family enjoyed it!

We're working on creating a better recipe database system on the site so you guys won't have to rewind to get the recipe down. Thanks for the input, we love getting feedback!



over 5 years ago gabrielaskitchen

This recipe sounds promising (red wine and beer!)...but really, is this a working class recipe? The alcohol plus 1/2 each of pricey cheeses is what has me thrown. Nonetheless, I'll break the bank to try it out since it sounds delicious.


over 5 years ago wcfoodies

Good questions, Gabriela. Here's how we break down the price for our show:

- each dish must cost under $8/person, or $16 for a 2-person meal, because that's about what you'd pay for a standard lunch (sandwich, salad, lunch-menu entree) at most restaurants in NYC. 99% of the time, we come in way under budget, more in the $4-5 range.

- some of our dishes do call for pricier items - but, these are always items that come in quantities and are flexible enough to be used in more than one recipe. For example, when we use wine to make this soup, we calculate into the cost of the dish the amount of wine that went into the soup; the leftover wine you can obviously enjoy either by drinking it with your dinner, or saving it for another recipe. For the cheeses, I spent about $20 for all four of those large bricks of cheese, and used less than half of that for the soup. Parmesan and pecorino are practically pantry items - they'll last in the fridge for a couple of months, and are great on everything from eggs to pasta to salads. The leftover gruyere and gouda both make amazing grilled cheeses.

The financial 'point' of Working Class Foodies is to buy quality ingredients and use them well. That means factoring in what to do with the leftovers, and it's a feature I'm hoping to introduce to the site for the 2nd season. This might sound awkward or like I'm being clever, but I'm not; chances are, when you go grocery shopping, you don't buy a single-serving handful of arugula, 1/2 a tomato, and 1/4 box of dried pasta. You don't shop in serving sizes, in other words. We try to show, in our price breakdowns, the value of each serving in a typically purchase-able quantity of food.

Hope that helps!



over 5 years ago gabrielaskitchen

Thanks Rebecca, It makes sense once you break it down. I'm definitely giving this a recipe a try this weekend. I plan on using a bottle of Guinness Stout I already have in the fridge and I'm making a run to Westside Market for the cheese; a recipe that requires me to go to my favorite nyc grocery store is always a treat! Thanks!