French Onion Soup

This classic French Onion Soup includes flavorful broth topped with toasted sourdough croutons and plenty of melted cheese!  It’s the perfect fare for cold winter evenings!

This classic French Onion Soup includes flavorful broth topped with toasted sourdough croutons and plenty of melted cheese!  It's the perfect fare for cold winter evenings!As we leave the holidays behind and head off into the new year, it’s time to focus on some seriously delicious comfort food.  It’s cold here in upstate New York, and colder days are coming.  But that’s ok.  We have a snowblower in the shed for dealing with any big snowstorms, and we have this French Onion Soup simmering away in the kitchen.  French Onion Soup really is an incredibly simple recipe.  It’s essentially just a bunch of onions cooked down in a beef broth.  It’s classic pub food for cold winter nights, and it’s also quite inexpensive…which is perfect after the holiday season!

This classic French Onion Soup includes flavorful broth topped with toasted sourdough croutons and plenty of melted cheese!  It's the perfect fare for cold winter evenings!The key to making a good French Onion Soup is time.  It’s not a difficult recipe by any means, but the base of French Onion Soup is caramelized onions.  And to caramelize onions, you need time.  The first step is slicing up all of the onions, and let me warn you now: you’ll likely be balling like a baby after slicing up 6 large onions.  (If you can only find medium onions in your store, then you’ll need to slice even more onions!)  I put all of those sliced onions into a 5½-quart Dutch oven…and they barely fit.  As in, I had to press the onions down lightly just to get the lid on.  As they cook, the onions reduce in volume quite a bit.  By the end, they only covered the bottom inch or two of the pan.

This classic French Onion Soup includes flavorful broth topped with toasted sourdough croutons and plenty of melted cheese!  It's the perfect fare for cold winter evenings!Have y’all ever made caramelized onions?  They have such a unique flavor, and they’re really not hard to make at all.  Caramelized onions are actually one of my favorite toppings for toasted sandwiches.  Have you ever made a grilled cheese sandwich with some caramelized onions in there?  (Hint: Do it.)

So what is caramelizing?  It’s the process by which the sugars in the onions cook.  Caramelization happens over a long period of time at a low temperature, and the result is a pile of dark brown onions with a distinctively sweet flavor.  But caramelization takes time.  For 2-3 onions, it’ll take about 45 minutes.  For 6 onions, it took me about 80 minutes.  But that’s simply because I had so many onions that they steamed first and released a bunch of water…then that water had to evaporate before the browning could begin.  But it’s all good.  Laura and I were just watching a movie, and I hopped up and stirred the onions every 15 minutes or so.

This classic French Onion Soup includes flavorful broth topped with toasted sourdough croutons and plenty of melted cheese!  It's the perfect fare for cold winter evenings!Aside from caramelizing the onions until they are deep brown in color, the other key to a good French Onion Soup is the topping.  I used a combination of Swiss and Gruyere cheeses.  Both types of cheese melt well, and Gruyere has a noticeably nutty flavor.  This nuttiness combined with the sweet caramelized onions is a match made in heaven.  Seriously!  Oh, sourdough.  I almost forgot to mention that I always use sourdough when making French Onion Soup.  The slightly sour taste just helps balance out the sweet caramelized onions.

Funny side story: I made 2 crocks of this French Onion Soup for these photos.  But there’s only 1 crock in the photos.  That’s because I happened to like the look of this crock better…and I also happened to eat all of the cheesy sourdough croutons (with the bottoms soaked in broth, mind you) while I was taking these photos.  Hey, the chef always has to taste his or her creations, right?

This classic French Onion Soup includes flavorful broth topped with toasted sourdough croutons and plenty of melted cheese!  It's the perfect fare for cold winter evenings!I hope the new year is off to a great start for you so far!  And might I recommend a nice hot bowl of this French Onion Soup this weekend?  It’ll warm you right up…I promise!

This classic French Onion Soup includes flavorful broth topped with toasted sourdough croutons and plenty of melted cheese!  It's the perfect fare for cold winter evenings!

French Onion Soup

This classic French Onion Soup includes flavorful broth topped with toasted sourdough croutons and plenty of melted cheese!  It’s the perfect fare for cold winter evenings!
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 255kcal

Ingredients

For the Caramelized Onions

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 large yellow onions cut into ¼” slices
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

For the French Onion Soup

  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • {optional} 2 Tbsp brandy
  • 10-12 cloves roasted garlic mashed (see note)
  • 8 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • sourdough bread cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese finely grated
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese finely grated

Instructions

For the Caramelized Onions

  • Using a large stockpot or Dutch oven, add butter and olive oil. Place over medium heat until butter melts.
  • Add onions; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until onions have softened.
  • Add sugar, salt and pepper. Continue cooking uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 60-65 more minutes, or until onions have turned dark brown in color. (Note: If the onions begin to scorch or stick to the bottom of the pan, turn the heat down. The secret to caramelized onions is low and slow!)

For the French Onion Soup

  • Once the onions have caramelized, add flour and thyme; stir until well coated. Continue cooking 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add white wine, brandy (optional), mashed roasted garlic and broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low; simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, toast the bread cubes until crispy and lightly browned.
  • Using a medium bowl, combine the grated gruyere and Swiss cheeses.
  • Ladle soup into broiler-safe crocks. Top with several toasted bread cubes and ¼ cup of grated cheese.
  • Place crocks on a baking sheet and broil until cheese has melted and begun to turn brown.
  • Serve hot.

Notes

We make roasted garlic by the sheetpan and then just freeze the roasted cloves in small “bombs” wrapped in plastic wrap. I highly recommend keeping roasted garlic in your freezer! It lasts a long, long time and it’s a great flavor booster for soups and pastas. If you don’t happen to have any roasted garlic, make a batch or check your local grocery store. If your store has an olive bar, I’ve found that many of these bars include roasted garlic. It’s a nice, easy way to pick up a bit of roasted garlic in a pinch!

This classic French Onion Soup includes flavorful broth topped with toasted sourdough croutons and plenty of melted cheese!  It's the perfect fare for cold winter evenings!

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30 Comments

  1. I was looking forward to your French Onion Soup recipe David after you mentioned it in your previous post and it’s absolutely delicious looking. I totally agree with you too that this is classic comfort food and as you know from my goals for this year I’m looking for any inexpensive filling meals. So, thanks for this! Ps. Can’t believe how cold it is for you guys there, but the addition of that brandy in the soup is sure to help???!! :-)n

    1. French Onion Soup is just a magical thing, Neil! It totally works in the budget friendly category, but it ranks up there in the ‘packed with flavor’ category, too. Somehow we’ve managed to polish off this entire batch of soup already, and I’ve already got my eye on making another batch soon. I hope you’re staying warm, my friend! (It’s finally supposed to warm up a bit here soon…yay!)

  2. One of my favorite soups of all time. I don’t blame you in the slightest if you yielded to temptation and devoured one of those crocks… I’ve only attempted this at home once or twice—the long caramelization process for the onions tends to test my patience. But with snow on the ground outside and plenty of time to spare today, it might be time to whip up another batch…

    1. Haha! The temptation was just too great, Frank. That extra crock was sitting there just looking at me the entire time…so I broke down and ate all of the croutons on top. Oops! 🙂 The caramelization process does take a long time, but I find that it’s not much work. Just an occasional stir and you’re good to go. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting…it’s great to “meet” you!

  3. I’ve been trying so hard not to complain about being cold lately because I know your neck of the woods is in a deep freeze of late. If I were you, I’d do nothing but shut myself in the house and eat this delicious, delicious French onion soup until spring comes. Your makes are making me verrrry hungry 🙂 Stay warm and have a great rest of your week!

    1. Yeah, it’s been a tad bit insane up here lately. I mean New York is cold in the winter…I’m sure you remember that. But this takes it to a whole new level! We’re supposed to finally break above freezing today, so I’m pretty excited about that. And my car needs a good wash, too. I’m thinking the car wash can wait, though…I should spend that time making another batch of this soup! I hope you’re settling back into the routine down there in ‘zona, my friend! 🙂

  4. French onion soup is one of my favorites but it’s not one I make at home. I’m the only one in my family who likes it. I guess that does mean more for me, but it’s hard to make a whole pot of soup if nobody else eats it. I’ll just need to invite some guests over who do love it! 🙂

    1. Oh bummer! It’s hard to make an entire batch of soup if you’re the only one who likes it. I mean you could make a pot of French Onion Soup and then take it to work for lunches, right? And then freeze half of the batch for a couple weeks from now. It could work! Either way, I hope you’re staying warm, Kathy!

  5. Oh Wow! Look at that cheesy top WITH sourdough croutons! David, most definitely The Chef HAS gotta sample his creations – and finish them in the process – which I totally understand cos wow! IMHO French Onion Soup is one of the most comforting soups of the season – I’ve only ever had it in restaurants or at friends homes – but don’t think I’ve ever had it with brandy cos you bet I’d be asking for thirds if that was the case 😉
    It’s COLD down here too – it was in the high teens when I walked the dogs this morning -and Lil S showed me pictures a friend sent her of Savannah blanketed in snow! What the what?! Hoping y’all stay warm and safe up there and Happy Thursday!

    1. Yes! A chef who doesn’t taste his/her creations is a sad thing, right?? And when we’re talking about sourdough croutons covered in cheese and soaked in a tasty broth? Well that’s just about impossible to resist! I seriously love this soup, and it’s really not hard to make at home. It takes some time to cook the onions, but it’s not difficult. Yikes…teens in Atlanta? That IS cold! We’re supposed to finally break freezing here today, and I’m really excited about that. #SmallVictories Hope you gals had a wonderful weekend, Shashi!

  6. You’re right, David. There’s something hearty and comfort in the combo of caramelized onions, cheese, and bread. And I’ve noticed, if you drizzle with a few drops of balsamic, onions tend to get caramelized faster 🙂 This is clearly the perfect soup for January – February cause it’s beeb outrageously cold in our area during last two weeks…and you know me – if I complain, that means it’s really cold haha.

    1. Good tip on speeding up the caramelization process, Ben! I sometimes add a pinch of sugar to help, but the balsamic would totally work, too. I’ll stash that away in the back of my brain for next time I make this! It has indeed been outrageously cold lately (although it’s warming up this week here), and soup is really the only thing I want to eat on these really cold days. Hope you had a great weekend, my friend!

  7. Haha! The first thing I noticed was that gorgeous crock, David!! I would love to add one of these to my growing collection. Caramelized onions are seriously the BEST! And this soup has my name written all over it!! I’m all about French onion soup and comfort food. P.S. How did you ever manage to take these photos cos I would seriously be tempted to eat that other bowl 😉 Happy New Year, my friend! Cheers to a fabulous year ahead!

    1. Haha! I guess we share the same love for that crock, Dawn. I only have one of ’em, so I made this soup in a couple different crocks. This is the only one that made the final cut! 🙂 Oh my gosh, taking these pictures was so hard…I wanted to dig into this warming soup like you wouldn’t believe. Well, to be fair, I did dig in…I just managed to keep one crock untouched for a couple of extra minutes. Haha! Cheers right back at ya, my friend! I can’t wait to see all of the deliciousness you have in store for us this coming year!

  8. You’re right, comforting and hearty and a perfect balance of healthful and indulgent – my kind of new year food!! Beautifully done, David!

    1. Thank you so much, Marissa! Flavorful soups is how I roll whenever the calendar turns over into January. And I’ve gotta say that this French Onion Soup ranks pretty high up on my list of favorites! 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by, my friend!

  9. Is there anything more comforting on a cold winters day than French onion soup? Slicing up all of those onions can be challenging but my mother in law once gave me onion goggles at Christmas and they really work 🙂 Caramelised onions are delicious, love to top our mashed potatoes with it and which food blogger has not eaten some (or all) of their food they were meant to photograph. I try to avoid shooting anywhere close to meal times as there wouldn’t be anything left to photograph 😉

    1. I completely agree with you, Miriam! French Onion Soup really is the epitome of comfort food…and it tastes extra special on a cold day, too. So onion googles, eh? Those things really work? Ok, I trust you! I’ll grab a pair next time I see them…because cutting the onions for this soup made me cry like a baby! Haha. I hope you and the family had a wonderful weekend, my friend!

    1. Oh my gosh, it has been so crazy cold out here lately, Manali. What the heck is up with Old Man Winter!? But we’re supposed to finally crack freezing today, and I’m excited about that. But you better believe I’ll still be eating soup for dinner tonight! 🙂 Thanks so much, my friend!

  10. I’m a sucker for just about any french onion soup! You are totally right with the caramelized onions. It’s gotta be low and slow to get the best results! Between your excellent choice of cheeses and bread I can’t imagine this recipe would be anything short of amazing!

    1. Why thank you very much, Matt! French Onion Soup gets a bad rap as folks think it’s too hard to make at home. It’s not! It just takes time. I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment…it’s great to “meet” you!

  11. French onion soup is one of my favorites soups. I love the everything about from the caramelized onions to all of the gooey cheese. The perfect way to warm up on a cold winter day. Now you have me thinking I need to make a pot of this soup. Yum!!

    1. You totally should go make a big pot of French Onion Soup, Dawn! It really isn’t very difficult, although it does take a bit of time to slice all the onions and then caramelize them. But on a cold winter day, I find I have plenty of time indoors to cook soup. 🙂 I hope your week is off to a great start so far, my friend!

  12. Oooooh! Yummmm! French Onion Soup is my son’s all-time favorite! I love your cheese and bread combination here – it sounds absolutely perfect. I’ve never heard of using a bit of sugar with the onions, either, so I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks!

    1. French Onion Soup is a favorite around here, too…especially on the coldest of days! The little bit of sugar really kickstarts the caramelization process of the onions. Although (as I discovered) when you have an entire pot full of onions, it still takes a bit of time to cook ’em down. Either way, this soup is the perfect thing to warm ya up, Laura! Thank you!!

  13. I have been suffering from a massive head cold the last two weeks and this pesky SOB is STILL hanging on. I’m craving comforting soups like CRAZY and this recipe is calling my name. Holy freaking moly if I close my eyes I can almost smell the onions emanating from your website #homersimpondrool.

    1. Wow, I’m sorry to hear about the massive cold, Christina…I was actually about to go hunt your blog down as I realized over the weekend that we haven’t chatted since the holidays. I hope you’re feeling better. The cold season this year is real doozy…of course, I think you already know that! If you haven’t done it already, then make a massive pot of French Onion Soup sometime this week…and then curl up on the couch with a bowl. Doctor’s orders! 🙂

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