Make Ahead

French Onion Soup

by:
March 31, 2021
10 Ratings
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: http://www.youtube.com...wcfoodies

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 4 hours 20 minutes
  • Serves 4-6
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds onions
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic (up to 6)
  • 1 generous pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups beef, veal, and/or vegetable stock, preferably homemade (up to 6 cups)
  • 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 (up to 6) deli slices of cheese, OR
  • 1/2 cup EACH of gouda, gruyere, parmesan & pecorino
In This Recipe
Directions
  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 over low heat, stirring only often enough to move them around the pan. This will take at least an hour.
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • kschurms
    kschurms
  • 8675309
    8675309
  • Alison Mahaffey
    Alison Mahaffey
  • BavarianCook
    BavarianCook
  • Chef Devaux
    Chef Devaux

38 Reviews

culingo August 17, 2020
As it supplies high quality ambient Vegetables. Sliced, diced, puree or paste, Vegetables in aseptic bags are a great alternative of using the raw Vegetables.

Products produced in aseptic bags, cans or pouch:
Onion, garlic, cucumber, pumpkin, butternut squash, olive, avocado, pineapple, pear, plum, strawberry, ginger, corn, peas, tomato.

www.culingo.com
 
shelley April 4, 2020
Just made this soup and I would highly recommend that people understand that the caramelization of the onions takes a lot longer than 20 minutes. I followed the recipe and it was like eating raw onions soaked in red wine!
 
Author Comment
wcfoodies April 6, 2020
The onions caramelize for 20 minutes, but then you cook the soup for 3-4 hours, which should give them plenty of time to further break down. Either way, apologies you had such an unpleasant experience!
 
shelley April 7, 2020
I'm so sorry for the negative review. I actually tried to retract my comment after I let the soup cook for 3 hours but I couldn't figure out how to do it. Even though the onions were not as carnalized as we would have liked (I'll know next time to let them cook longer) the soup was delicious!
I'm sorry for the negative review. I will make this again cooking the onions for a longer period of time.
 
shelley April 4, 2020
Just made this soup and I would highly recommend that people understand that the caramelization of the onions takes a lot longer than 20 minutes. I followed the recipe and it was like eating raw onions soaked in red wine.
 
kschurms November 15, 2019
As many have mentioned, 20 minutes is not nearly enough time to caramelize this many onions. I knew this, but undercooked the onions anyways. Let me tell you - eating spoonfuls of undercooked onions is NOT easy on the digestion system. Beware and caramelize the crap out of your onions unless you want your entire dinner party farting and leaving early.
 
Piper F. June 25, 2020
That -does- sound like a fun party though.
 
8675309 September 20, 2019
wcfoodies - I made this tonight using sherry instead of wine or beer. The sherry does add a bit of sweetness but I would like to make it again using a burgundy wine instead for comparison. I used equal thirds of grated gouda, gruyere, and Swiss Emmental cheeses. Wow. What a great flavor combo! As others have mentioned, there is no way to successfully caramelize 3 pounds of onions in a large pot in only 20 minutes without doing something wrong. Plan on at least an hour - it took me longer but was worth it. Please consider modifying the recipe instructions as this is likely a typo.
 
Kathleen March 21, 2018
I only have chicken broth right now, and am stuck in a snow storm. Do you think that would subtract a lot of flavor? It is homemade.
 
To be honest, I think the flavor would change greatly. It’s a very “meaty” tasting soup in my opinion, and that’s what I’ve come to expect from this recipe. That being said, there’s always that slight under taste of iron whenever I use beef broth, so maybe it’s a trade off. It always seems like too much effort to do a comparison because I too have thought of using chicken broth. If you proceed I hope you post the results.
 
Calamityville July 18, 2018
I like French Onion Soup when it's made with chicken stock. I also make it with white wine. It's a bit lighter this way and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
 
Alison M. April 22, 2016
i just made this soup for the first time and used lagunitas stout, it was a bit bitter.
 
BavarianCook April 14, 2016
Very tasty indeed. I used Swiss Emmental cheese and it was delicious.
 
Chef D. December 10, 2015
I love caramelized onions !
 
ihaventpoisonedyouyet January 27, 2015
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.
 
karen December 28, 2016
Agreed
 
Hilarybee November 13, 2012
My husband loves this soup! I made it with English Ale and gruyere cheese. Wonderful, thanks!
 
Muse September 16, 2012
This sounds absolutely wonderful...can't wait to make it! Thank you for sharing your recipe.
 
jlm086 February 15, 2012
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.
 
chop C. October 25, 2011
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.
 
Author Comment
wcfoodies December 19, 2011
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?
 
Thistlepie January 3, 2011
just made this soup! The best ever onion soup! This made my New Year's weakened. Thank you.
 
HandRocksLadle December 10, 2010
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!
 
shayma March 13, 2010
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.
 
nannydeb March 3, 2010
Congratulations! We love French Onion soup and can't wait to try yours!
 
drbabs March 3, 2010
Congratualtions! I can't wait to try making it this way!
 
thirschfeld March 3, 2010
congrats, that is a nice onion soup. I haven't made onion soup this year. I am going to give this a go.