French onion soup is a treasured delicacy, but it seems an impossible one to replicate at home. This is both because of the fiddly nature of serving it right and in trying to make sure your onions are properly caramelized.
Well, this recipe makes it easy, giving you all the tips you need to get a perfectly caramelized and delicious French onion soup at home.
Table of Contents
French Onion Soup
The key ingredient of French onion soup, besides the obviously massive quantity of onions, is time. That’s not a typo, not thyme the herb (although it is essential for the flavor of onion soup); you need to let your onions cook for a really, really long time. If you don’t take the time to properly caramelize the onions, you will be left with a depressing, lackluster bowl of French onion soup.
You also need to carefully toast your bread and brown your cheese so that every bite of French onion soup is cheesy, crispy, crunchy, and oniony all at once.
French Onion Soup Ingredients
Keep the recipe card at the bottom handy so that you get the exact amounts needed for this recipe.
- Butter or Canola oil – using canola makes this dairy-free and you can use a vegan cheese at the end!
- Brown sugar
- Onions (white or yellow)
- Strong beef broth
- Cooking sherry
- Worcestershire sauce
- Salt & pepper
- Bay leaf
- French baguette
- Gruyere cheese
How to Make French Onion Soup
- Peel and cut the onions, slicing them into halved onion circles
- Add your butter or oil to a large saucepot or Dutch oven and melt until it is bubbling.
- Add the onions and brown sugar, stirring to completely coat
- Cook, the onions, frequently stirring, until they are browned, glassy, and completely caramelized; at least 30 minutes, maybe even up to an hour.
- Once the onions are caramelized, add in the cooking sherry, salt, pepper, thyme, and beef broth. Stir gently.
- Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and simmer for 1 hour, frequently stirring to prevent burning.
- Skim off any white foam that floats to the top
- Toast your French baguette in the oven or using a broiler
- Spoon the soup into small ramekins or any oven-safe bowl, leaving a small bit of space at the top
- Top the soup with the toasted baguette slices cut so that they fit into the bowls
- Top the bread with your shredded Gruyere
- Place the ramekins or bowls on a baking sheet and broil in the oven for 3 minutes, or bake at 400 Fahrenheit, pulling them out when the cheese starts to brown
- Cool for 5 minutes, and then enjoy
How to Get Your Onions Properly Caramelized
Caramelizing onions at home is something that every home cook dreads having to face, but it need not be such a terrifying prospect; you just need to be very careful.
The steps to properly caramelizing onions at home are easy but require careful vigilance.
You first need to sweat the onions down, letting them release all their water and start to brown. Then, you need to slowly, carefully brown every surface of the onion without it burning onto the bottom of the pot.
The key is to use lots of fat and low heat, plus a little dash of brown sugar. The sugar will not only help with the color but will actually help draw out moisture from the onions and aid their browning, as well as just generally help everything caramelize a little bit faster.
It could still take up to an hour, though! Don’t believe all those other recipes that say it will only take 15 minutes – if it doesn’t take at least 30 minutes, then your onions probably aren’t done yet.
How to Give Your French Onion Soup That Browned Cheese Top
The other incredibly vital part of a good French onion soup is that cheesy bread topping.
The key here is to toast your bread beforehand in the oven or the broiler, spreading butter all over it and toasting it on all sides. That way, it won’t get all soggy and fall apart when you add it to your soup.
Furthermore, you need to make sure that you completely cover the surface of your bread in cheese, not leaving a single gap. If you leave anything out, then you risk ending up with burned bread rather than bubbly brown cheese.
Looking for more tasty Soup recipes? Try these out:
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French Onion Soup
- Prep Time
- 15 minutes
- Cook Time
- 1 hour
- Karlynn Johnston
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 Tbsp Brown sugar
- 10 cups sliced yellow onions
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cups strong beef broth use beef bouillon cubes for a strong taste
- 2 tablespoons cooking sherry to taste
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire to taste
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 French Baguette
- 1 cup Grated Gruyere cheese or mozzarella of choice.
- Slice off the ends of each onion and continue slicing so onions are in circles about 1 cm wide.
- Cut the onion circles in half. I like to leave mine in larger pieces and have thinner, longer pieces.
- Add your butter or oil to a large sauce pot or Dutch oven and melt until it is bubbling.
- Add in the sliced onions and brown sugar and stir to coat well.
- Cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they are browned, glassy and completely caramalized; at least 30 minutes, maybe even up to an hour. Add a tablespoon of water if anything starts to burn. Don't stop until it's done!
- Once the onions are caramelized, add in the cooking sherry, salt, pepper, thyme, Bay leaf, and the beef broth. Stir gently.
- Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and simmer for 1 hour, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Skim off any white foam that floats to the top while cooking.
- Take your French baguette, butter them generously and brown under a broiler until toasted.
- Spoon into ramekins or your favourite oven safe bowls, leaving at least one inch to the top edge.
- Place 1-2 slices of a french baguette into the soup.
- Top the baguette with your favourite cheese like Gruyere.
- Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and broil in the oven at 400 degrees for about 3 minutes. Watch for the cheese to start to melt then brown, then remove from the oven.
- Let them cool for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.
- This soup out of all soups is the one that you must adjust to your liking when it comes to ingredients. Some people like the broth so strong that the salt burns your tongue, others don’t like the sherry. Really, adjust this to your liking!
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.