Recipes · Cooking tips · Techniques

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

French onion soup is a restaurant classic, but it’s pretty easy to make at home. But, it does take time and patience. You can’t rush caramelizing onions!

 

This delicious soup is best made with a partner, serve up your favorite beverage, and take it slow. Your patience will be rewarded with a delicious soup that’s worthy of a special occasion.

 

Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

If you’re making this soup for a dinner party or date night keep in mind that French onion soup takes a long time to make, caramelizing the onions alone takes at least 45 – 50 minutes.

 

Plus, your house will smell like onions. You will smell like onions. And, your guests will smell like onions!

 

To avoid this dilemma, make the onion soup a day ahead and refrigerate in a container with a tight fitting lid. The day of the festivities, gently heat the soup in a saucepan or pot until it comes to a simmer. Then build the French onion soup as described below. Problem solved!

 

If you’re looking to make more delicious soups, try one of these recipes:

Lentil Vegetable Soup

Tuscan Soup

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Chickpea Soup

Carrot Ginger Soup

 

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To make this onion soup you will need

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

2 tablespoons Butter

3 pounds Yellow Onions, peeled, halved and sliced into ¼ inch thick pieces

½ cup White Wine

6 cups Chicken Broth

1 Bay Leaf

3-4 sprigs of thyme, tied together with kitchen twine for easy removal

½ teaspoon Salt

¼ teaspoon Black Pepper

Crusty French Baguette, sliced into ½ inch thick rounds and lightly toasted

6-8 ounces Provolone Cheese, 4-6 thick slices – if the slices are thin, double up

 

Prep work

I’m not going to lie, peeling and slicing three pounds of onions is a bit of prep work. The rest is just measuring out the ingredients, but the onions take some work.

 

The good news is… once you get into a groove, things will move pretty quickly.

 

Start by cutting the onions in half and peel. Then cut them into ¼ inch slices. Do not slice the onions too thin or they will disintegrate during the caramelizing process.

 

Get everything ready to go for this soup before starting. Once you get to the point where you need to stir almost constantly, there won’t be any more time for prep.

The prepped ingredients for the french onion soup displayed on a white table.

 

How to caramelize onions

There are two important things to remember:

  1. Use gentle heat, we keep the onions on moderate (medium) heat the whole time. You can’t rush this process, do not crank the heat.
  2. Stir the onions often, especially when they start to caramelize. Keep stirring and gently scrape the bits that stick to the bottom of the pot.

 

Let’s start the onions

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. When the butter is melted and foaming, add the sliced onions.

 

At first, it will look like there are way too many onions. You’ll wonder what in the world you’re doing. But, the onions will reduce significantly as they cook.

 

Stir the onions only occasionally at first. As they begin to turn a soft caramel color start stirring more often to prevent them from burning on the bottom.

 

See the collage below that shows the progression of caramelizing onions:

  1. The onions when they’re first added to the pot.
  2. After 15 minutes the onions have started to reduce in volume.
  3. After 25 minutes there is a noticeable reduction, plus the onions are starting to turn a soft golden color. At this point, we need to start stirring frequently and gently scrape any bits off the bottom of the pot.
  4. After 40 minutes you can see that the onions have turned a golden color. At this point we need to stir the onions almost constantly.

A collage of four images showing the progression of caramelizing onions.

 

After 50 minutes, the onions have reached a rich, golden-brown color. See how quickly that progressed! Those brown bits on the bottom of the pot are sweet caramelized onions. If they sit there too long they will become burnt and bitter.

Caramelized onions in a pot with a wooden spoon.

 

This is as far as we want to take the onions. Add the white wine to the pot. Gently scrape any remaining bits off the bottom.

 

Cook the wine with the onions for approximately 2 minutes, or until most of the liquid has cooked out.

 

Finish the onion soup

Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper to the pot and stir well.

Sprigs of thyme being added to a pot of french onion soup.

 

Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the onion soup to a simmer. Then, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 20 minutes (or so) to let the flavors come together, stirring occasionally.

 

Keep the onion soup at a simmer, if it’s boiling too vigorously, lower the heat a bit more. We were almost on low when all was said and done.

 

While the soup is cooking

Preheat the oven to 200°F – 250°F. Slice the bread into roughly ¼ – ½ inch rounds. Lightly toast the bread, about 5-7 minutes.

 

When the soup is done, take the pot off the heat and discard the bay leaf and thyme. I use tongs to pick them out.

 

Taste the onion soup and add a little more salt if needed. As a reference, we did not add any extra salt to our soup.

 

Top the onion soup with the bread and cheese

  • Preheat oven to the low broil setting.
  • Ladle the soup into individual, broiler safe bowls (like a soup crock or ramekins).
  • Place one or two slices of bread on the soup (depending on the size of the bowl).
  • Place a slice or two of the provolone cheese over the bread.

 

Place the bowls on a baking sheet; this will prevent the cheese from melting all over your oven. Plus, it makes getting the crocks in and out of the oven a lot easier.

 

Broil the French onion soup until the cheese is melted and becomes golden in spots. This step will only take a few minutes.

 

Check them every minute and don’t leave the oven’s side. Turn on the oven light and keep a close eye on the cheese to make sure it doesn’t burn. Serve and enjoy!

A spoon going into the cheese topping on french onion soup served in a small white bowl.

 

Cook’s notes

Don’t add salt to the soup until the end. Prepackaged broths contain a good amount of salt, and it’s hard to tell how much, especially after it’s simmered for a while. Wait until the onion soup is done, then adjust the salt to taste.

 

If you don’t drink wine, deglaze to the pot with chicken broth, follow the same instructions above.

 

If you’re not a big wine drinker and hate opening a whole bottle to use ½ cup ( I know I do), here’s a good solution for you.

 

Large, mainstream wine companies, make little plastic bottles of wine, like for picnics. They usually come in four packs. They’re the perfect size and leftovers keep really well in the refrigerator.

 

French onion soup served in a small white bowl.

 

A spoon lifting french onion soup out of a small white bowl.
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

French Onion Soup

French onion soup is a restaurant classic, but it's pretty easy to make at home. But, it does take time and patience. You can’t rush caramelizing onions!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Onion soup, onions
Servings: 6
Calories: 383kcal
Author: Elizabeth

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 3 pounds Yellow Onions peeled, halved and sliced into ¼ inch thick pieces
  • ½ cup White Wine
  • 6 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme tied together with kitchen twine for easy removal
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ½ loaf Crusty French Baguette sliced into ½ inch thick rounds
  • 8 ounces Provolone Cheese 6 thick slices - if the slices are thin, double up

Instructions

  • Cut the onions in half and peel. Then cut them into ¼ inch slices. Do not slice the onions too thin or they will disintegrate during the caramelizing process.
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. When the butter is melted and foaming, add the sliced onions.
  • Cook the onions for approximately 45-50 minutes. Stir the onions only occasionally at first. As they begin to turn a soft caramel color (after 15 minutes or so) start stirring them more often to keep them from burning.
  • After approximately 25 minutes stir the onions almost constantly and gently scrape any bits off the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the white wine to the pot, stir while gently scraping any remaining bits off the bottom.
  • Cook the wine with the onions for approximately 2 minutes or until most of the liquid has cooked out.
  • Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper to the pot and stir well.
  • Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the onion soup to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Keep the onion soup at a simmer, if it’s boiling too vigorously, lower the heat.

While the soup is cooking

  • Preheat the oven to 200°F - 250°F. Slice the bread into roughly ½ inch rounds. Lightly toast the bread, about 5-7 minutes.
  • When the soup is done, take the pot off the heat and discard the bay leaf and thyme.
  • Taste the onion soup and add a little more salt if needed. As a reference, we did not add any extra salt to our soup.
  • Top the onion soup with the bread and cheese
  • Preheat oven to the low broil setting.
  • Ladle the soup into individual, broiler safe bowls (like a soup crock or ramekin).
  • Place one or two slices of bread on the soup (depending on the size of the bowl).
  • Place a slice or two of the provolone cheese over the bread.
  • Place the bowls on a baking sheet; this will prevent the cheese from melting all over your oven. Plus, it makes getting the crocks in and out of the oven a lot easier.
  • Broil the French onion soup until the cheese is melted and becomes golden in spots. This step will only take a few minutes. Check them every minute until they reach the desired color.

Notes

Get everything ready to go for this soup before starting. Once you get to the point where you need to stir almost constantly, there won’t be any more time for prep.
Don’t add salt to the soup until the end. Prepackaged broths contain a good amount of salt. Wait until the end, then adjust the salt to taste.
If you don’t drink wine, deglaze to the pot with chicken broth, follow the same instructions above.

Nutrition

Calories: 383kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 1556mg | Potassium: 608mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 473IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 372mg | Iron: 2mg
The nutritional information above is computer generated and is only an estimate. There is no guarantee that it is accurate.This data is provided as a courtesy for informational purposes only.

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