French Onion Soup
French Onion Soup has to be one of the most popular soups in the west. For a start it's really a peasant soup; simple, often home grown ingredients, make this a frugal dish that was accessible to everyone. When you add the combination of a crouton, covered with melted cheese, then it gets to a decadent level, when the natural sweetness of the onions is brought out by the slow cooking. Stick your spoon in and you know that you are on your way to foodie heaven, trust me, I know.
This is not a difficult French dish to perfect but you need a little patience. Show the onions some love and they will give you back a soup with a deep delicious taste that is perfect for entertaining. Better still, this French Onion Soup loves to be made the day before as the flavours will deepen and the soup will be extra unctious.
You will love this!
What are the ingredients?
You can make this soup with ingredients you probably already have to hand. Traditionally, this dish is made with large sweet onions and garlic, but really you can make it with any yellow onions you have. There is also vegetable stock, but you could use chicken or even beef for a deeper flavour. The remaining ingredients are seasoning and a little sugar and some wine. It's really simple. Of course, you can leave out the wine.
For the traditional crouton topping I've used a slice from a baguette. You can use whatever you have, as long as it is thick cut, about 1.5 to 2 cm is about right.
For the oozy cheesey crust Gruyère cheese is a must. It's nutty and creamy and perfect for this dish as it melts really easily. If you can't source it use mature or sharp cheddar or even Emmenthal. Emmenthal is used extensively in France and It was my go to all purpose cheese when Cheddar was ridiculously expensive.
How to make the soup
There's nothing complicated about this dish as it's only simple ingredients and simple techniques. However, you will need some patience. This soup isn't made in 15 minutes. It takes a little time for the onions to break down and release their natural sugars and there is nothing worse than rushing the process and ending up with burnt onions. You will just get a bitter taste to the soup.
Slice the onions as thinly as you can and chop the garlic finely. This helps with the cooking and the appearance of the soup.
Melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan and add the onions. Stir well to cover the onion in the oil.
Put a lid on the saucepan and cook on medium to low for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should wilt down by about half.
Remove the lid and add the sugar and salt and cook over a medium heat until they are thoroughly soft and wilted down as the picture below. This will take between 15 and 30 minutes.
Add the stock, wine and herbs and simmer for 30 minutes. Season to taste. In the meantime cut 4 slices of baguette about 2 cm thick and dry out in an oven for 5 minutes.
Divide the soup into 4 heatproof bowls and place on an oven tray. Preheat the grill to medium and pile the cheese on the bread slices.
Top the soup with bread and place under the grill until bubbling.
As tempting as it is, don't dive into this soup straightaway. It will be very, very hot. Leave it for a few minutes before serving to your guests.
How to store French Onion Soup
Like many things this soup actually tastes better the day after cooking, giving the flavours a chance to develop further. This makes this soup perfect for making ahead for a dinner party. Let the soup cool to room temperature, after simmering, the refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat the soup in a saucepan and assemble the croutons just before serving.
This soup also freezes well. Simply portion and pack in soup containers for up to 3 months without the crouton.
For another French starter idea how about a traditional Quiche Lorraine with homemade shortcrust pastry?
Other soup ideas
- Curried Pumpkin Soup
- 3 Ingredient Broccoli Stilton Soup
- Tarragon and Mushroom Soup
- Seafood Bisque
- Oriental Duck Broth
- Chicken and Bacon Chowder
- Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup
French Onion Soup
- 800 g onions 4 large sweet onions approximately
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 100 ml dry white wine
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- seasoning to taste
- 80 g baguette 4 slices
- 100 g Gruyere cheese grated
- Slice the onions thinly and finely chop the garlic.
- Melt butter and oil in a large saucepan and add the onions and garlic.
- Put a lid on the saucepan and cook on medium to low for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add sugar and salt and cook over a medium heat until they are thoroughly soft.
- Add the stock wine and herbs and simmer for 30 minutes. Season to taste.
- Cut 4 slices of baguette about 2 cm thick and dry out in an oven for 5 minutes.
- Divide the soup into 4 heatproof bowls and place on an oven tray.
- Preheat the grill to medium and pile the cheese on the bread slices.
- Top the soup with bread and place under the grill until bubbling.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article.
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