This Classic French Onion Soup Recipe is based on the French version by the infamous Julia Child, is divine!
It consists of a rich, savory beef broth accented with caramelized onions, a hint of sage and a decadent layer of Gruyere cheese melted over toasted French bread.
This version is much better than La Madeleine's French Onion Soup. Once you make it, I think you'll agree!
Easy to make, this recipe requires a bit of patience when cooking the onions after all, the sweet, caramelized onions are the star of this fabulous and impressive soup!
You'll love this recipe!
- Authentic and foolproof - the seasonings are spot on and the carmelized onions are perfect
- Easy - the hardest part about this recipe is cooking the onions...which requires patience...
- Leftovers are delicious-if you have any soup leftover it will be as good, if not better than the first time around
What is carmelization?
Carmelization is the process of slow cooking and browning foods. This occurs when sugar is in the presence of heat.
Onions inherently contain sugar, so when you slow cook them for a long time, they begin to turn brown, releasing their natural sugars-this is what makes this soup so delicious!
Ingredients for French Onion Soup
The ingredients and seasonings are simple: 5-6 large yellow (not sweet yellow) onions, beef broth, butter, oil, flour, sugar, ground sage, white wine, bay leaf, French bread, Gruyere cheese.
How to make it
The onions require about 30 minutes of cooking on low heat in order to caramelize. The most important thing about this recipe is the carmelized onions, afterall, they're the main ingredient-so don't get in a hurry on this part.
One thing is certain- you will need a mandolin or a sharp knife to slice the onions to about ¼"inch thick
In a large stockpot, melt oil and butter on medium heat; add sliced onions, salt and sugar; cover and cook on medium low heat for 15-20 minutes; stir onions frequently to prevent burning
Continue to cook until onions are caramelized and are a nice brown in color
Reduce heat to medium low; sprinkle in flour and coat onions;
Add beef stock, wine, sage, bay leaf; allow to simmer for 30 minutes
Taste for seasonings; add salt and pepper to your preference
What kind of onions?
Julia Child's original recipe calls for yellow onions, and I couldn't agree more!
Note, these are not sweet yellow onions, but plain yellow onions!
I once made the mistake of using sweet onions and the flavor of the soup was definitely "off" a bit.
What kind of cheese?
Traditional, classic or authentic recipes generally use Gruyere cheese because of it's nutty flavor and excellent melting capabilities. Gruyere is expensive, so if you want, use a high-quality Comte or Swiss cheese.
Whichever cheese you use, make sure that's in a block-not one that's pre-shredded. Those are coated with an anti-caking ingredient and they don't melt as well as the block cheese.
What kind of wine?
Use a dry white wine like a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. The wine (or any alcohol) is adding a bit of acid to the flavor profile of the soup.
No alcohol French Onion Soup
Most recipes call for a little bit of alcohol, like brandy, cognac, sherry or wine. This adds a bit of acidity to the onion soup, developing the rich flavor even further.
If you prefer not to include an alcohol, no problem! Your soup will still be delicious!
How to assemble and serve it
Use an oven-safe ramekin to serve the soup. Once the soup is seasoned to your liking, it's time to finish it off with French bread and Gruyere cheese, pop it under the broiler and you're done!
Preheat oven to the broil setting; place ramekins on a baking sheet
Ladle soup into ramekins ⅔ of the way; place a thin slice of toasted French bread on the soup
Top the bread with a generous amount of cheese; place under broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble
Remove baking sheet from oven
Carefully place each ramekin on a saucer (the ramekins get very very hot in the oven-use an oven mitt)
This full-bodied French soup can stand on it's own or serve as a first course to a delicious entree of pasta, steak, baked chicken or fish. Since the soup uses beef broth, it pairs nicely with beef and a glass of red or white wine.
Make ahead, storage and reheating
This can be made in advance; make the soup and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-days or frozen for up to 2 months.
Prior to serving, reheat the soup on the stove or microwave, ladle into ramekins, add bread, cheese and broil!
Classic French Onions soup requires a few simple ingredients, but thin-sliced onions are a must!
Use a sharp knife or mandolin for slicing onions ¼ " inch thick and be patient when carmelizing the onions
Serve soup in oven-safe ramekins-use a hot mitt to remove ramekins from oven - they get HOT!
Wait a few minutes before serving the soup
When serving, place ramekins on a small salad plate or serving platter
You can never go wrong with a Classic French Onion Soup! Bon Appétit!
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If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a comment and rating. I love to hear from you! Thank you!
Classic French Onion Soup
- Mandolin slicer is recommended
- Oven-safe ramekins
- Pot holder or oven-mitt - the ramekins get HOT
- 5-6 large onions sliced ¼"-inch; "plain" yellow; not "sweet yellow onions" See Recipe Notes
- 1 stick butter , salted or unsalted
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 64 oz. beef broth
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour , all-purpose
- ½ teaspoon sage , ground
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 12 ounces Swiss, Gruyere, or Comte cheese ,shredded
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 loaf French bread sliced
- salt & pepper to taste
Make the Soup
- Thinly slice onions; set aside5-6 large onions
- Melt 1 stick of butter and oil in a large stock pot on medium heat1 stick butter, 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Add sliced onions and sugar to melted butter and allow to cook on medium low heat until onions are brown; be patient...this takes a while5-6 large onions, 1 tablespoon sugar
- Once onions are browned, add flour and beef stock; combine well3 tablespoons flour, 64 oz. beef broth
- Add wine, sage and bay leaf; bring to boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium low and cover; salt and pepper to taste1 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon sage, 1 whole bay leaf, 1 cup dry white wine, salt & pepper
Make the Bread Topping
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Slice French Bread into ¼ inch pieces1 loaf French bread
- Lightly coat bread slices with olive oil and place on oiled baking sheet
- Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 15 minutes; then turn bread slices and bake another 15 minutes, or until golden brown
- Remove from oven and set aside
- Turn oven temperature to broil; remove bay leaf from soup
- Ladle onion soup ⅔ of the way into oven-safe ramekins; ; add toasted French bread; top with shredded cheese12 ounces Swiss, Gruyere, or Comte cheese
- Place ramekins on baking sheet and place under broiler until cheese is nicely browned
- Remove baking sheet from oven; using a paper towel, dip the ends of the paper towel onto the residual oil from the baked cheese
- Ramekins will be extremely hot; allow to sit for about 8 minutes prior to serving
- Do not substitute "Sweet" Yellow onions for the onions in this recipe. Use plain yellow onions, but do not buy "sweet" yellow onions...don't ask me how I know this:)