Make Ahead

French Onion Soup

February 15, 2010
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:

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
  • 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
  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.

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