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French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup with Stringy Melted Cheese
When I think about my favourite soups, French onion soup is definitely one of the first ones that comes to mind. Even though it is one of my favourites I don't make it all that often as it requires a bit of time and effort to make. A French onion soup is basically a soup consisting of caramelized onions in a beef broth that is topped with a slice of bread and a bunch of cheese that is all melted and gooey and golden brown and good. How could you possibly go wrong with a sweet oniony broth topped with melted cheesy goodness?

The key to a great French onion soup is definitely the caramelized onions and caramelizing those onions is what takes all of the time and effort in this recipe. Now you can caramelize onions in about a half an hour but I think that slowly caramelizing them over a period of 3-5 hours on a low heat brings out much more of their amazing sweetness and flavour. Luckily, they do not require all that much attention while they caramelize and you simply need to stir them every 10 minutes or so. Because of this you can do something else, like checking out all of your favourite food blogs while you caramelize them. The long and easy caramelization process makes this soup a great candidate for a lazy Sunday night dish where you can spend all afternoon with those onions and fall and winter seem like the perfect time of year as you do not mind having the stove on all day as much.

After the onions are caramelized you add some flour and cook it a bit to caramelize it. This is essentially going to form a simple roux that will both thicken the soup and add flavour, so do not rush past cooking the flour a bit. Up next is the broth which is usually a beef based broth, but you could use any broth and I often like to add a bit of flavour by replacing some of the broth with red wine. The soup is flavoured simply with some garlic, thyme and bay leaves for some aromatics. The final step for the soup is to simmer it a bit to let the all of the flavours come out and mingle.

At this stage the soup is so good that you could eat it as is and it would be great but why stop there when you could top it with bread and cheese? This step is pretty simple and you just put a lightly toasted slice of bread on top followed by the cheese and throw it under the broiler until the cheese melts, bubbles and turns a nice golden brown. You are going to want to make sure that you use an oven safe bowl here and watch it carefully as the cheese can quickly burn under the broiler. Taking that extra step of adding the topping is well worth it as the combination of the salty cheese and the sweet onion soup is what takes this soup from simply being great to being amazing!

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

A decadent French onions soup with a beautiful depth of flavour that is topped with toast and melted cheese.


Servings: makes 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes

Printable Recipe
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 4 pounds onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour (rice flour for gluten free)
  • 1 cup red wine (or beef or vegetable broth + 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar)
  • 3 cups beef or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 1/2 inch thick slices of day old bread, toasted
  • 1 cup gruyere, grated
  • 1/4 cup parmesan, grated
Directions
  1. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium-low heat, add the onions and cook slowly at low with the lid on until golden brown and caramelized, about 2-3 hours, stirring every 15 minutes.
  2. Raise the heat to medium, add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
  3. Mix in the flour and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the wine and deglaze the pan.
  5. Add the broth and bay leaves, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Ladle the soup into oven-proof bowls on a baking sheet and top with the sliced bread and cheese.
  7. Broiler until cheese melts, about 1-3 minutes.

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Guinness ‘French’ Onion Soup
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Roasted Beets with Caramelized Onions and Feta
Chipotle Caramelized Onions
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Reuben Soup
French Onion Soup Dip
Cauliflower and Cheddar Soup
Split Pea Soup
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65 comments:

the blissful baker said...

i loveee french onion soup! so much cheesy goodness mmm

Kathy - Panini Happy said...

We're thinking along the same wavelength - I've got French Onion soup on the menu for this Friday. Seems like the right time of year for it, doesn't it?

愛 - ちゃん said...

Oh your french onion soup tempt me! Those cheese... They looks really good!

thecompletecookbook said...

I love your recipe for this all time favourite! Brilliant pics too.
:-) Mandy

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That is such a comforting and tasty dish!

Cheers,

Rosa

Paula said...

omg, I must make this soup! looks as an ideal french soup Kevin!

have a nice time,
Paula

jose manuel said...

Esta sopa es una maravilla, la verdad es que es una delicia.

Saludos

Edith said...

Veeery god!
The first photo is mouth watering :))

tori said...

That soup looks amazing- a great idea of meatless monday too. Dinner tonight- solved!

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

I love this French recipe. Your bowl looks just delicious; so cheesy and comforting.

Fuat Gencal said...

Hayırlı haftalar. Çok güzel, leziz ve iştah açıcı görünüyor. Ellerinize, emeğinize sağlık.

Saygılar.

Joanne said...

It's so easy to get mediocre French onion soup. But a really good version...is basically mindblowing. From these pictures, I'm pretty sure that this is the latter.

Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

I adore French Onion Soup but I learnt a trick many years ago, which is that I roast my onions in the oven rather that on the hob.... it's really simple, you just cut each onion in half, lay it cut side up on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and a knob of butter on each half and back slowly for a couple of hours till golden and caramelised... you can sprinkle them with a little sugar and turn them half way through cooking, but it's so simple and hassle free... then you add them to the pot and make the soup as per your instructions... try it some time, I love it!

MASATERA said...

Mmmm very nice!!

matt gordon said...

i have a mother load of onions so this is on the list. thanks for the reminder and recipe

Lauren said...

That photo of the melted cheese definitely won me over :). Will definitely be saving this recipe!

pigpigscorner said...

This is my favourite soup too!

Julie said...

French onion soup is one of my favorites too. This sounds just delicious!

esdelope said...

French onion soup (well caramelized onions :) is my favorite!) A trick I learned when caramelizing onions is to add a splash of red wine vinegar and pinch of sugar just as finishing off caramelizing. It adds such a bright hint of flavour!

Becca

Aleksandra1234 said...

Božanstveno!

vanillasugar said...

this is one of my favorites too. but i have to say i never made mine this thick and i NEED too. why didn't i think of this? thick and full of cheese & bread=hot damn.

Jennifurla said...

this is beautiful

RamblingTart said...

Mmm, this is one of my favorite soups of all-time, Kevin! I love how fabulously cheesy and gooey yours is. :-)

Tamanna said...

french onion soup was my favorite comfort food back in college between class breaks and exam times...boy did it give me a warm comfort i craved for! this looks sinfully delicious

Cindy said...

Wow, Something I havent had in a while, but after this post am craving! thank yo, it looks delicious!

Baking is my Zen...sweet nibbles for the soul said...

The way French Soup should look...

Ana Powell said...

Lovely soup and so welcoming ♥

♥peachkins♥ said...

that is the most yummilicious onion soup I've ever seen!

Kelsey said...

I am definitely making this. I have seen plenty of recipes for this but this is very simple and you explained it all very well.

Rivki Locker said...

My French onion soup uses dry sherry in place of the red wine. Yum...

Anonymous said...

America's Test Kitchen had an episode showing an easy way to caramelize onions in the oven a couple of seasons back. I love French Onion Soup. Yours looks delicious!!! Yumm.

The Urban Baker said...

this is one of my favorite foods. when i was little, my dad and i would sneak out to a little place near our house, La Frite. We would get a bowl of french onion soup and a crepe. thanks for reminding me of a time in my life that i hold dear!

Ravenous Rowie said...

Just beautiful! As usual!

Lady Fromage said...

This looks amazing!! Can't wait to try it!

Kero said...

Your soup looks delicious but I never saw an onion soup that thick, it looks a bit more like sauce or cream than soup.
In my region (south of France) white wine is much more used than red wine fot this soup, but I like both.

Butcher Supplies said...

That looks delicious. Gotta give this one a try.

Kerstin said...

Gorgeous and totally worth the extra time to caramelize the onions - yum!

Kevin said...

Dom at Belleau Kitchen: I am going to have to try the oven roasted caramelized onions technique!

Fashion Tidbits said...

mmmmmmmmm yummy!!!

Twin Tables said...

My twin and I also use red wine in our french onion soup but instead of topping ours with whole slices of toast, we chunk our bread. It makes it much easier to eat! Your version sounds great!

Lea Ann said...

I agree with French Onion being a classic! I've not made it for years and probably the last time I made it, I didn't have a clue on how to caramelize onions.

anniebakes said...

my mouth is watering!

anne

Joshua said...

The cheese dripping makes it luxurious looking. I have all these onions on hand but so little patience. J

honeybeecooksjackfruit said...

OMG this looks so delicious. Im drooling now looking at this and your artichoke dips.

Kri said...

Thank you so much for this recipe, we simply love it! I've just been cooking it for the second time (gonna be my birthday dinner) :), and I'm gonna serve it in whole loaves of bread, so that everybody can eat their plates as well at the same time! :)

Jennifer said...

I have been looking for a French Onion soup that didn't rely on beef broth for all of its flavor. Thank you for finally bringing my search to an end! I can't wait to make this...

Jen said...

I have always been a picky French onion soup eater, but have never tried making it myself... And since i love it and this picture was amazing I gave it a whirl.... Twice already. The flavor combination is exactly what you look for in a classic French onion soup. I am in love. The only changes I made the second time around was, just adding a splash of red wine, I found the first time I ended up with a purply soup...great tasting but did not look like the picture! Lol. And that picture makes my mouth water everytime! As well I cut the flour in half, my soup was too thick for my liking. Although the leftovers were easily converted into a French onion poutine.... Also delicious and a great way to not let this yummy recipe go to waste.
Highly suggested you won't be disappointed!
Thanks Kevin, and I agree cooking the onions for hours is a must and worth the time.

Kevin said...

Jen: Glad you enjoyed it! French onion poutine sounds so amazingly good! Great idea!

Andrea said...

Tried this just now and loved it! So buttery and delicious. Love your blog, have pinned several things to try! Thanks!

www.lifelovelarson.blogspot.com

MuseSwings said...

Great recipe! I've been looking for a thickened onion soup and this one with a perfect combination of herbs and cheeses is going to be a hit at my dinner table.

Sharon said...

I have been wanting to make this.no oven proof bowls though. I think Ill just broil it on the bread andthen pop it onto the soup.

Kevin said...

Sharon: That would be a good way to do it! Enjoy!

Marilyn said...

Hi Kevin - I was so in the mood for Onion Soup when I saw your recipe and decided to try it, though with a little trepidation. Previous attempts have been feeble, watery, bowls of warm liquid - this, however, was rich, bold and so flavorful. I did let the onions go in my castiron pot for 3 hours and I think that, with my homemade stock, made all the difference. I used a smoked gruyere on top that was delish and the 4 servings were devoured by just my husband and myself at one sitting. YUM, SO GOOD!

Kevin said...

Marilyn: I am glad that you enjoyed it! I like to use a homemade stock when possible as well!

mary clay said...

I made this tonight and it's the best!! I didn't add the wine, instead I used the extra broth with the balsamic vinegar. It rocked!

Anonymous said...

alternatives to red wine that are delicious: sherry, port, dark beer or marmalade. The marmalade is surprisingly delicious, it's got that tart sweet pow.

Jenna said...

I made this last night, and it was fabulous. I only had half the amount of onions suggested, but it was still plenty. (And I didn't quite make it to two hours carmelizing - I'm too impatient!) The flavor was excellent. I don't have any oven-safe bowls either, so I used a creme brulee torch instead. Worked like a charm!

Thanks for this, Kevin. I think I'll make it again tonight! It was that good!

purplebohemian said...

I made this for lunch today--it was a chilly and windy day. What else would taste perfect on a day like today? I really liked this soup and it was a little different recipe than I am used to, but still very delicious. I thought it was one of the sweeter tasting French onion soups that I have ever had, and the broth wasn't as thin as some can be. My husband said of all the French onion soups I have made, this one was probably one of his favorites. Thank you for sharing this recipe. It was amazing and the amount of soup it made was perfect enough that we had seconds, and no leftovers.

AB said...

I am in the process of making this soup now and caramelizing the onions. I am used to the onions turning a pretty brown color when they are finished and mine are still a golden yellow and there is a ton of liquid in the dutch oven thatiI am worried it interfering with the caramelizing process. Is there supposed to be a lot of liquid created at this step or should I pour off some of it to help the onions? They have been cooking for almost 5 hours and are still not the color I associate with caramelized onions.

Kevin Lynch said...

AB: They should be showing signs of caramelizing by now. The extra liquid will slow things down at low heat but it also allows you to increase the heat to medium which will reduce the total time required. My new favourite method of caramelizing onions is to cook them over medium heat adding 1/4 cup of water (or other liquid) every 10-15 minutes and mixing things up. This way they are usually done in 60-75 minutes and you do not nee to be hovering over the pot the whole time.

Beeje said...

A friend just tipped me off your to your website. I chose this recipe at random to read over and was thrilled to see your instructions about caramelizing onions. It drives me bonkers when recipes claim this process takes 20 minutes! This tells me you have a clue in the kitchen (closet-sized or not) so I am going to Follow you. (But I'm not a stalker, really!) Hope to enjoy many of your recipes.

Arthur in the Garden! said...

My favourite of all time soup!

Anonymous said...

Is there another cheese other than gruyere that I can use? From a small town and it's very expensive here

Kevin Lynch said...

Anonymous: Parmesan would add a nice flavour but if you want a stringy cheese then mozzarella would be good.

purplebohemian said...

Sometimes, in a pinch, I use a couple slices of Swiss cheese (like the pre-sliced kind for sandwiches).

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