[Psst! There’s a newer, less fussy and more focused version of this recipe over here.]
I’m firmly of the belief that no matter what ails you in the realm of the kitchen, onion soup can cure it. Never cooked before? Don’t think you’ll be able to pull off the kind of cooking you believe you need to go to a restaurant to experience? Start with onion soup. Have only $5 to spend on dinner? Refrigerator is almost bare? Onion soup is your friend. Want your home to have a transcendent aroma bouncing off every wall, the kind that’s so distracting that you don’t even know or care what’s on the stove, only that you must have it now? Onion soup is waiting for you.
I realize it was unfair to even make a passing reference to weepingly delicious onion soup the other day without refreshing it here. I talked up once in 2006, a lifetime ago (or several, if you’re this guy) but it was a very literal recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking which benefits from some streamlining. And yet, not too much. Onion soup is a remarkably simple thing to make but when simplified too liberally — I’ve seen recipes that instructed you to just caramelize onions for a bit, add stock, cheese etc. — the nuance that raises it to the transcendent level I’ve known it to be gets lost. Julia Child’s original version — with the very long caramelization of onions that I beg you not to skimp on because this is all the work there really is, the slip of raw grated onion, the cheese within and on top of the soup and starting the croutons toasted hard so they don’t fall apart in the soup — raises the soup beyond the everyday, without making it too difficult to whip up almost any day. Which I promise will happen when you realize the staggering gap between effort and outcome that Child’s onion soup manages to bridge.
One year ago: New York Cheesecake and Shakshuka
Two years ago: Artichoke Olive Crostini and Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers)
Three years ago: Spring Panzanella and Lemon Yogurt Anything Cake
Four years ago: Artichoke, Cranberry Bean and Arugula Salad and Arborio Rice Pudding
Onion Soup [Soupe à l’Oignon]
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
1 1/2 pounds (680 grams or 24 ounces or about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tablespoons (42 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt, plus additional to taste
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) granulated sugar (helps the onions to brown)
3 tablespoons (24 grams or 7/8 ounce) all-purpose flour
2 quarts (8 cups or 1.9 liters) beef or other brown stock*
1/2 cup (118 ml) dry white wine or dry white vermouth
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons (45 ml) cognac or brandy (optional)
To finish [Gratinée] (Optional)
1 tablespoon grated raw onion
1 to 2 cups (to taste) grated Swiss (I often use Gruyere) or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard
Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a 4- to 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to real low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes. They don’t need your attention; you can even go check your email.
After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup. Plus, from here on out, it will be a cinch.
After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed. Correct seasonings if needed but go easy on the salt as the cheese will add a bit more saltiness and I often accidentally overdo it. Stir in the cognac, if using. I think you should.
Set aside until needed. I find that homemade onion soup is so deeply fragrant and flavor-rich that it can stand alone, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the graitinéed top once in a while. Here’s how to pull it off:
Preheat oven to 325. Arrange six ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bring the soup back to a boil and divide among six bowls. To each bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon grated raw onion and a tablespoon of grated cheese. Stir to combine. Dab your croutons with a tiny bit of butter and float a few on top of your soup bowls, attempting to cover it. Mound grated cheese on top of it; how much you use will be up to you. [Julia Child, in another era, felt that 1/2 cup of grated cheese could be divided among 6 bowls. I can assure you that if you’d like your gooey bubbling cheese lid to be anything like what you get at your local French restaurant, you are looking to use more, such as a generous 1/4 cup.]
Bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler. Finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly. Grab pot holders, and serve immediately.
* Porcini or mushroom stock are a robust vegetarian substitution.
513 comments on french onion soup
I feel this same way about onion soup! TOTAL staple at our house. I’ll try your recipe next time (mine is an OLD Gourmet version).
Your child makes me ache for one of my own. :) But only if mine has that hair.
I am so excited. Thanks for posting this!
Looks like the perfect thing to make on this chilly, drizzly, NC spring day.
Amazing. I was riding the train to work today, thinking, “I should make onion soup tonight. I wonder how fussy Julia Childs’ recipe is…” You have made my weekend.
I’m making this tonight. In fact, I’m going to the grocery store to gather ingredients RIGHT NOW.
Thanks for another great weekend recipe idea, Deb!
We do love you so in our household :)
Also…how important is the white wine and beef broth for the full effect? Usually I alternate between red and white and between chicken and beef (whatever’s on hand). Right now I have chicken broth and red wine…do I need to go to the store again to transition from “fairly delicious” to “weepingly delicious”?
Mary — I know a lot of people make it with chicken broth. I much, much prefer beef broth, but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it either way.
Funny, I planned on making French Onion soup this weekend! Thank you for the recipe!
It is a VERY rare cold, rainy April day here in Phoenix. In short, the weather’s perfect — and this soup is exactly what we need to celebrate. It’s only 10 a.m. but I am heading to the kitchen to make this right now. Thank you for posting!
I’ve not sample french onion soup. I don’t like onions. Now I am so tempted to try!
this looks so good. i am obsessed with french onion soup and I will go and buy ramekins just to make it so I can melt cheese all over. this also doesn’t seem too rough to make, which is exciting
a bowl of this is perfection
i usually shy away bc of the salt content, this is such a great alternative!
I don’t think anything can beat Julia Child’s recipe. I’ve made it with both yellow onions and sweet onions, and I actually prefer sweet. Instead of putting the toasted bread and cheese on top of the soup, I make little cheesy toasts and dip them in. I must say, there is no better smell than carmelizing onions!
Oh man, this is just the cure for my first wet March/April I’ve had here in the Northwest!
It’s a bit too sunny and warm to contemplate soup at the moment in England but when it starts raining – as it will no doubt do soon – this is going on the ‘must make’ list.
Mmmmm…. looks wonderful! I’ll have to try this. BTW, where did you get your ladle? I love the shape.
Oh my goodness. What do I have on the stove, this very minute? Julia Child’s onion soup. I popped onto Smitten Kitchen to get the Tarte Tatin from earlier in the week, and there’s Julia, again. :) Smitten Kitchen never fails me — the Sally Lunn bread is our new favorite Sunday morning treat. Can’t wait for the cookbook!
I’ve been making this soup for years. I tend to up the onion somewhat (I like lots of onions). Homemade beef stock is best if you’ve got the time–you can really taste the difference between homemade and packaged in a recipe this simple, and I’ve never found a packaged beef stock that comes close to homemade. I’ve found fairly decent chicken broth, but not beef.
Also, some restaurants use part mozzarella cheese to get that really gooey, stretchy top. Definitely not traditional, but if you’re wondering why your cheese doesn’t come out that gooey, that’s why.
This looks amazing! We recently tried Steamy Kitchen’s Swiss Onion Soup recipe (beer and chicken broth instead of white wine and beef broth), and it was also delicious. Not sure which one we like better – maybe we should make them both and do a taste test!
In general, I think you can’t beat the taste (and smell) of onions cooking in butter. One of our friends labeled it one of the Top Ten Deliciousnesses of all time, and I think I have to agree.
My daughter loves this soup from Julia’s recipe and I have made it several times for her. I wish it wouldn’t be so time consuming but it is well worth it!! I can highly recommend it.
Beautiful and delicious. It’s really one of those classic recipes that’s been around for ages, and when you try it you realize why.
Mushroom stock is a brilliant substitution idea– I’ll definitely try that, even though I’m not a vegetarian.
Yes! I can’t agree more. I love onion soup and wrote about it a few weeks ago – in fact, I didn’t have cheese or bread on hand at the time, so I used just onion, beef stock, and white wine. I suppose that makes it mere onion soup, rather than French Onion Soup, but it’s still delicious, so people shouldn’t hold back because they lack the full list of ingredients. Definitely the kind of meal that suggests more effort than was put in :)
My dad has been making this soup since I was a kid. I still beg him to make it. (27 years later). Its about time I make it for myself. Thank you for reminding me!
Perfect timing! I had already planned to make French onion soup today! I’ve had homemade beef stock simmering on the stove for the last three days and just a while ago strained it and put it in the fridge to harden the fat. I’ll be leaving out the flour and wine (I am on a strict candida diet). My kids will enjoy it with cheese and toasted French bread. Can’t wait!
I’m not much of a drinker so I’m always at a loss when there’s alcohol in recipes. What’s a good brand or style of wine for this? I guess I’m craving for my whole studio apt to smell like onion
I’ve only made French onion soup once and it was a disaster so since them I’ve always shied away from it. Maybe next time I’ll give this a go and follow it exactly to the recipe rather than trying to make any of my own shortcuts.
I’ve seen sugar in other onion soup recipes. You note that its for helping the onions brown? I’ve never had the need to sweeten the onion soup (even using cheap brown onions), so I wondered. Good to know, thanks!
And yes, we love onion soup — its a staple in our home.
I went through a major onion soup phase this winter, I made it about 6 times…sigh, winter is short in florida. it won’t be soup season for a while.
can I request a gaspacho?
I have looked at this recipe many times and put it down without trying it. You make it look much more simple than just reading Julia’s version. I should give it a try because it looks delicious!
Since I’m a student, I have to stick to a budget. These are the recipes that can help me at the end of the month, after I spend too much money on fish, Buffalo mozzarella and other ingredients any other student wouldn’t buy. I’ve never made it at home, but ate it a couple of times in a bistro or café.
Can I make it with red wine too? I’m more of a red wine drinker, and there’s almost always one bottle of red open.. I need something else besides spaghetti aglio e olio or chickpeas and tuna out of a can for my last week of the month, so I want try this!
What would be a good non-alcoholic substitute for the wine in this recipe? We are a dry household and never have it around.
Sacrebleu! Cela semble délicieux!
I can’t wait to try this. I’m guessing that broth is a good substitute for wine right? Maybe beef broth to give it a richness. Although wine is the best way to do it.
I started making this at home a few years ago because I realized that if I wanted to order it every time I see it on a menu I needed to know how to make it at home! The cognac, brown stock, and Gruyere are absolutely clutch in this dish. Yum… I think there’s nothing like being able to make these dishes for yourself at home.
This recipe reminds me of watching Julia Child on TV and it made such an impression on me when the person standing next to her asked her if she ever ate soup from a can. She answered yes, french onion, with some cognac added..
I think I made your 2006 recipe for this soup but didn’t comment. Shame on me! It was outstanding, of course, Julia or you never let me down. I did add a large clove of garlic, just barely crushed, to it, because my husband just insisted. I had made some beef stock from roasted beef ribs before I started the soup. The stock was really good from such an inexpensive rack of bones, and I’m sure added greatly to the soups base. The leftover soup I turned into a Sweet Sour Russian cabbage soup, so I got two different soups using this recipe as it’s base. I love it when that happens!
I have yet to discover the deliciousness of completely caramelized onions. This soup might be the thing that gets me to indulge in their delight. It’s a shame that I don’t own Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but I feel like I’m getting to know it pretty well through a lot of your recipes. Thanks!
I can’t wait to try this, but I have 2 questions:
1. One of the eaters of this soup is a vegetarian, so I will need to use the alternative broths. How hard is it to find mushroom broth? I have never heard of it.
2. I do not yet own crocks. Do you have a moderately priced brand you could recommend? I am not sure if it’s ok to ask you that.
Thanks. Everything I have made from your site has been divine.
Mmmm, I love French onion soup, but haven’t had it since going veggie since it always seems to be made with beef broth. Thanks for the porcini/mushroom broth tip! My mind hadn’t gone there, but of course those would be delicious.
I didn’t know French Onion soup was so easy to make!
I was JUST thinking this past few weeks that I need to brave this recipe. Onion soup, here I come!
I’ve always been intimidated by onion soup – probably because it’s one of those classic dishes that seem simple but without the proper attention – can turn out kind of “blah.” Your recipe and photos have inspired me to try it! And thank you for the suggestion to use mushroom stock for a veggie substitution – I never thought of that before but I bet it adds a great richness to the dish!
Hi! This recipe looks awesome and my husband LOVES french onion soup. I know this may be a bit blasphemous ;) but do you use store-bought stock? If so, do you have a favorite brand? I read some reviewers discuss home-made stock, but, honestly, we just don’t eat a lot of beef around here. (We usually have lots of poultry broth frozen from Thanksgiving!) Thanks!
Bea — I used store-bought this time. I like the Pacific brand; I usually grab the organic and free-range, mostly because they offer it.
Nicole — You can make your own, too. I’ve used a recipe before that suggested 9 cups of water to 1/2 pound any mushroom (white are fine) + 1 ounce rehydrated dried mushroom such as shiitake or porcini. You can throw in a diced onion, garlic, carrot etc. whatever you like in stock. Boil for an hour uncovered and strain. I don’t own crocks either. I just used 2-cup bowls that are more rounded, i.e. nearly equally deep and wide. In my dish set, they were called “rice bowls”.
The price of soup! — I knew someone was going to ask, and the truth is, this is more of a $10 soup, but that’s because I forgot to include the price of stock. Which is more or less free if you’ve saved beef bones and can make your own. You save your beef bones, right?! I made short ribs this week and I did! Here was my budget on the main items:
Balthazar Baguette, used half: $1.25
Onions, organic, half a 3-pound bag: $1.50
4 ounces of a $10.99 surprisingly decent bottle of white wine: $1.73
I used cave-aged Gruyere because I had it around, but you can get decent domestic Swiss for as little as $2.25 for 6 ounces
4 tablespoons Trader Joe’s butter: $.50
The math isn’t perfect, but there’s little question that you can feed 6 people hearty, amazing soup on a tight budget with this recipe.
Wine — As you can see above, I do not spend a lot of money on wine I cook with. My rule is that it has to be dry and passably drinkable (as in, I’d have a glass and not hate it, and I’m very picky) and beyond that, I could not care. I’ve never made this with red wine, but with the hearty beefy thing going on, I doubt it wouldn’t work. If you don’t drink wine, skip it. It’s simply a layer of flavor, but you’ll have a ton of flavor either way with this.
A great vegetarian substitution is veg broth with red miso mixed in. The miso gives it a very deep beef-like flavor that just vegetables won’t give you. I thought the results were fantastic.
I haven’t eaten cheese in years. YEARS. And I can honestly say that I’ve never looked at a cheese-containg dish and thought, ‘that looks delicious.’ Today, you win. I took one look at the first picture and my eyes popped out of my head. If cheese didn’t wreck my innards, I’d be scarfing this for dinner. Well done, lady!
One of my absolute favorite dishes. I love to order this in restaurants because they never taste the same. I agree with all of your points…good carmelization, bread toasted just right, etc. I have a lousy picture of my first attempt. I was just getting into photography and I am ashamed to look at the photo but it sure did taste good.
I simply have to make this soup this week, it looks divine. Thank you :0)
Everyone needs a good fronch onion soup recipe, love this one! Will be sure to try next time I want soup.
My mom gave me soup crocks for Christmas after me saying how much I loved french onion soup as a kid. You made my day as I have been looking for a delicious recipe to use said crocks. Dinner tomorrow. I’m so excited!! Thanks again!
Regarding a white wine substitution: I have had good luck in risotto with substituting frozen apple juice concentrate.My husband- who is a chef- actually thought I had used wine (we don’t drink) and when I told him he was really thrilled/shocked. I think the juice would act the same here so I’ll try it.
Mushroom stock: I think the company is called Pacific Foods? they have the mushroom stock in a box.
For fully developing caramelized onions without the constant stirring, may I recommend indirect heat? Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut 3 tbsp butter into 1 tbsp hunks, put in bottom of largish dutch oven. Sprinkle 6 sliced onions over the butter, making sure the half-rounds separate from each other. You can do this by “crumbling” the sliced onions in your fist, as if you were crunching saltines into chowder. Midway through adding the onions, sprinkle them with some kosher salt. Lid the vessel and put in oven for 1 hour. Remove vessel from oven, unlid and stir. The onions should be medium brown by now, sort of khaki colored. Put vessel back in oven without any lid, cook for 30-45 minutes. When this step is completed, the onions should be dark brown. Put on stove top on medium-high heat. When it starts sticking deglaze with champagne, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Gewürztraminer. Continue making soup with mixed broths or as desired.
I really wish my husband would eat onions. I just can’t seem to justify making a pot of onion soup just for myself. I suppose it’s possible to make a small batch, though.
Onion soup is one of my absolute favorites! Love your version. I often add demi glace to enrich the stock. Love your photos! Enjoy the weekend.
Every time I make this, and I did just a couple of weeks ago, it’s too sweet. I mean, like eurrgh! Any suggestions?
We make this (similar) soup since years and years!! It´s family old recipe.
We name it Bread Jewish Soup…”Sopa Judía de Pan”.
Ohhh Amazing flavors. Simplicity and Home Warm nights….
Thanks for share.
i *just* ate my lunch and yet this looks positively dreamy, and is making me drool. well done.
RE: 43/Bea, your readers MUST know if you EVER use box/canned broth. RE: 50/Eve – interesting!
I absolutely adore onion soup, but unfortunately I am the only one in this household who appreciates it. (GASP!) So I guess I have to leave my onion soup tasting to a restaurant experience, even though I would love to try this recipe.
I love, love, love French Onion Soup. But I would not call it a cheap food to create. The onions are cheap, yes. But add up the costs of beef broth, Gruyère, vermouth, and a loaf of hearty bread? It’s more like $20, not $5.
And when it comes to French cooking, it is the quality of the ingredients that make the difference. Sure, people could substitute, but the quality of this dish goes down substantially when that happens.
So I’d wholeheartedly agree with everything about this post, except that it is an economical dish to make.
Onion soup is probably my all time favorite soup – it’s such a comforting dish. This looks incredible!
o, soup. one hour of slow caramelized onions is one of the more spiritual cooking experiences i’ve had. until you try it, you won’t be able to imagine the complexity of onion aromas! amen.
– After I got a food processor I started making French onion soup more often because slicing the onions is no longer a weepy task.
– Cognac or brandy is the secret ingredient.
– We skip the cheese and it’s lovely with toast on the side for dipping.
– Mushroom stock made from stems and dried mushrooms is an inexpensive substitute for Pacific broth. Costco sells a cost-effective half-gallon jar of dried mushrooms.
– Set aside a few of those caramelized onions to mix with sour cream or drained yogurt for real onion dip.
I actually made this on tuesday following the other recipe you posted on this (looks mighty similar btw). We love it! I had to substitute the white vermouth with red vermouth cause was out and I use sherry rather than cognac at the end but other than that…
For those that haven’t tried it… try it, it’s a life altering experience!! ;-)
This sounds lovely! I’ve been eyeing a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a local shop window and all of these Julia-inspired posts are making me realize what a necessary purchase it would be.
Simple and tasty! It is one of the many versions of the soup, but it is not bad!
Deb, I made your onion soup, from your long ago post, EVERY monday for weeks and weeks last winter. So delicious, easy, one of my smitten favorites. Its also delcious with vegetarian broth.
This is exactly what I’m craving on a cold, cloudy day! Thanks for sharing :)
There is definitely a universal thought pattern going on. I have made onion soup twice in the last month. WONDERFUL! For the ultimate version, cognac, the bread, the cheese and homemade beef stock are a must but it is still wondeful meal made with chicken stockand served plain. Enjoy.
I’ve always wanted to make French Onion soup, suspecting that it would far surpass any I’ve had at a restaurant. And I’ve been wanting to go through MTAOFC and actually cook from it instead of being the proud owner of it. Thank you for giving me the motivation in picture form that I needed to make it happen.
Didn’t you already post this recipe??
Nonetheless, it probably deserves a double-posting. I’ve wooed people at dinner parties with this soup. It’s to die for :)
It’s 90 degrees in South Carolina and you’ve got me craving hot soup?! Well, okay, I think I will make this tonight.
Deb–Jacob is perfect. I just don’t think I’ve ever seen a child be quite that cute.
Mushroom broth…what a fantastic idea! Almost morel season here in New England :-)
I’m making pasta puttanesca for dinner (we’re having a lovely bit of unseasonal rain) but now I wish I’d read this first!
It’s been far too long since I’ve had French Onion Soup because it always has meat stock in it. But now you’ve inspired me to make my own with porcini mushroom stock. Wonderful idea!
Mmmm, I just made some maple caramelized onions. I bet a little bit of maple flavor would be good in this too.
We make lots of Onion Soup here at the Gravy Company. It has welcomed home sick from the hospital, warmed the souls of winter, and soothed heartbroken hearts during the grieving period. It is my “go to” when I need to send some comfort. Thanks for reminding us just how easy and good it is. I loved your photos!
Any suggestions for a non-alcoholic substitute for the white wine and cognac?
The Gratinee is “optional?” Optional? Deb, I think your spellcheck program missed your egregious misspelling of MANDATORY (or VITAL)!! =)
This was the first soup I ever made. I was 15 and used Julia’s recipe. Why? Because my mother always cooked from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, so I figured I should, too.
Would you consider a post on how to make beef stock? I make chicken stock frequently, but I’ve never tried to make beef. Thanks
This is my favorite. I’ve been watching re-runs of Julia’s show on the cooking channel lately, and it’s as good as ever. I must make this :-)
it’s a wintry autumn day here in oz and i think i just found out what’s for dinner. and on a student’s budget, too! you made my day. comfort food, here we come.
SO WEIRD! My mom and I have been talking about making french onion soup for a week now. Looks like I found a recipe. looks super YUM! I think we might use chicken stock…is that alright? And I’m going to have to agree with Killian – no way no how is the gratinee “optional” — that MAKES the soup!
Onion soup is sooo good! I had never had it until Valentines day of this year and it changed my life! I definitely didn’t know what I was missing!
man, first i’ve never made tarte tatin, and now, french onion soup. suddenly, i wonder what i’ve been eating all these years!
does the little mister eat it? i’m thinking mine will look askance at all those long (tender, caramelized, delectable) shreds. the stinkers.
Deb, you seem to know what we are all craving for out here. I wonder how my little boys will take to onion soup. I guess I have to only try to find out. Thanks again for sharing. – feedingmykidsbetter
Mmmm I love French Onion Soup. My mom and I always make it at Christmastime. It is so warm and delicious when we’re up north in cold New Hampshire! Plus it is super easy to make, even for a bunch of people. Last year we tried cooking the onions down in the oven instead of on the stove and it worked great!
Deb, Your blog, your photography, and your creativity just keep getting better and better — and that’s saying a lot! Thank you; it is always a pleasure to visit.
I’ll be making this for my family next rainy day! I read somewhere (hopefully memory serves me right) that Onion Soup was Julia Child’s last meal. That might seem like a downer but it strikes me as…comforting. I hope my last meal is so lovely!
Deb, your website is such a delight to me. You do a fantastic job.
This sounds amazing! I will most definitely be using this!
I do not have oven proof bowls/crocks and really would rather not have to store them. My question is do you think I could put parchment paper down on a cookie sheet and do the “topping” in pairs on the cookie sheet, put hot soup in bowls and then transfer the topping of croutons/cheese w/ a spatula to the waiting bowls of soup?
i would have to totally agree that whatever ails you onion soup can cure…it’s magical!
Personally, I’m not fond of onions unless whirled well as a hidden flavor for soups, etc. but my boyfriend loves them, and I’ve been pondering making French Onion Soup for him for some time, so this is perfect! I’ve got a set of 4 mini soup toureens that would be perfect for part of it. We’re also a dry household, so I’ll have to hold the wine and cognac.
I’m sooooooo excited to try my first French onion soup.
It has been said that my Mom makes the best around (she makes her own beef stock)
Now, it’s my turn. Turning the pungent onions into to sweet caramel. YEAH BABY!!!
But I don’t eat beef. What’s a poor girl to do???
What do you think about chicken stock and a big dash of Worcestershire???
(Julia is rolling over in her grave, I’m sure of it!)
PS. I had a teeny apt. size stove like that.
Everyone would say “how do you cook on that thing?
and laugh, whatever. it’s not soooo bad with a little practice!
Soup is good for people suffering from fever, but onion is effective ingredient for heating body. I,m still imagine the impact if the fever sufferers to eat this soup. Must be a lot of sweat that out. hmmm. How about your opinion deb ?
I rarely use beef stock but I wouldn’t dare sub anything else here. (Sorry but mushroom-based onion soup was just not the same during my vegetarian years.)
On the rare occasion we have any beef with bones in the house, I roast them, then simmer them for hours with a little vinegar (to pull out the gelatin) and the usual aromatics. Then I freeze it to have on hand for just this very purpose. The only downside is that we rarely want to eat onion soup out anymore. We can make it better at home. :)
I love french onion soup! Homemade is so much better than restaurant bought. I’l definitely be making this again soon.
Yum! Arghh still stuck with bad dorm food here.
This is my favorite soup of all time! I am so excited to make it in my own home now! thanks :)
This looks amazing. I am currently on an elimination diet, but once that’s over, you bet I’m making this!
This looks incredible! One of those dishes I routinely forget about and then rediscover. That cooking wine you have is one I use too. Can’t go without my chef’s bonus!
Thanks for a reminder about an old favourite. The mushroom stock recipe in the comments section was very useful too.
The soup looks beautiful and delicious. I can practically smell it from the photographs. (Someday I hope you’ll share your secretes to keeping such a pristine stovetop.)
I think the problem is with the sentence “Have $5 to spend on dinner?”
The cost of the meal, as broken down by you, requires an outlay of more than $5. For starters, it requires the purchase of a $10.99 bottle of wine.
I realize you’re amortizing the cost of the wine, but for some of us wine is simply not in the budget. (And neither is cognac or Gruyere, as much as we may like them.) As for saving beef bones to make a homemade stock, some of us can’t afford to buy short ribs these days. We have no bones to save.
Like you, Thomas Keller also feeds six with his onion soup recipe, but he calls for *8 lbs of onions* (for readers without a kitchen scale, that’s 8 large onions) and a whole baguette. (Interestingly, he also insists on only using aged cheese due to its crusting abilities, and prefers Comte to Gruyere.)
I’m sure that you *can* feed six people on three small onions, some broth, half a baguette and a few ounces of cheese. But unless they’re supermodels, you’d probably have to also feed them something else in order to call it a meal.
None of this detracts from your mouthwatering recipe or your equally mouthwatering prose.
The fact is caramelized onions are magic. Even when combined with only water and a judicious amount of kosher salt, they can make a tasty soup.
I hope readers who are economically challenged will see this recipe for what it is: a gorgeous, inspirational jumping-off point. Use a bouillon cube, chicken stock if that’s all you’ve got. (Keep the kitchen curtains drawn and the gourmet police will never find out.) Heck, try miso. Don’t have wine? How about a splash of something acidic. Mirin, citrus, balsamic vinegar. No, it won’t be the same. And it certainly won’t be traditional French onion soup but it just may be tasty and it will warm your belly.
Fantastic recipe. It os soooo long since I’ve had good onion soup. This will have to be made this week! Thanks!
I definitely enjoy onion soup but I wouldn’t say “I’m firmly of the belief that no matter what ails you in the realm of the kitchen, onion soup can cure it.”
It seems just a little farfetched.
I know that onions contain vitamin B, vitamin C and small amounts of minerals.
But what about the other contents of the soup? Doesn’t alcohol lower your immune system not heal it?
Also buying cognac or brandy (which is usually $5-$7 of a 60ml bottle) and white wine (usually priced around 750ml $4-$6) will usually set you back more the five dollars if I’m not mistaken.
Don’t get me wrong I like the recipe and would like to try it I’m just wondering if the opening statement is a bit too optimistic.
I’m in Asia and would love to make this soup. However, I don’t often have open bottles of white wine lying around – do you think it would be possible to use mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine for cooking) instead? I’ve seen sites that recommend using a dry sherry if you don’t have mirin and was wondering if the reverse would work as well. Thanks so much for the really helpful site. It’s a great inspiration to me that you’re also cooking in a small kitchen – I live in a city where the property prices are more expensive than NYC and only have a 6x8ft kitchen (including countertop, fridge & stovetop space)! :)
Maria — No reason not to try it, but maybe just use half in case the sweetness is very noticeable.
Bowls — We registered for a set of dishes from Calvin Klein khaki when we got married. I went back to pick up a few more pieces this year — and a few other odd end colors — and they seem to be phasing them out as even CK.com itself couldn’t fully fulfill my order. The bowl shown is the “rice” bowl and it’s in a brown/maroon color called “raisin”.
I feel a little embarrassed to admit this but… I’ve never cooked a Julia Child recipe. I even, ok, here goes… I even thought that maybe the hype around Julia, particularly since the movie, might have been, well, a little misplaced? But I’m SO glad you’ve delivered me out of my ignorance with this onion soup recipe. I’ve read plenty of onion soup recipes that are left in the dust by this one. I won’t hesitate before buying her tome now. Thank you! Angela
My lovely Dad, who died a year and a half ago, used to make this for us, using Julia’s recipe – his copy of the book falls open at the page and is heavily stained from decades of use. When I make it, I can hear him telling me how important it is to caramelise the onions thoroughly and properly. My all time favourite – with such lovely memories of the entire family round the table. Thanks Deb.
Deb. I love onion soup and have been making it for years. If you are ever up for trying my version it is delicious. Ir is topped with a cheese souffle then baked. U think the steam Deimos the soup keeps the souffle from
Falling. I first had this at the CIA in Napa area.
rosemaryandthegoat.com/2009/06/06/5/. souffled onion soup. I hope you will try it. So rich. I had a few bread cubes in bottom and definitely leave off the cheese before adding te souffle
I have always used beef stock for the soup. For me, it wouldn’t be onion soup without a splash of worcestshire. I’ve always gone the alcohol-free version. Would love to try this recipe. Thanks!
I love love love making onion soup. And I love your new bed! My husband and I are still living in Ikea-land, but someday we will upgrade, too :)
love the soup…but where did you get those soup bowls, they are beautiful!
onion soup! my boyfriend and I eat this a lot because it is so easy and quick to make. do you put rosemary in it? try it you will love it!
This is perfect! I was nosing through the freezer this weekend and noticed I have three quarts of beef stock that has been in there for about a month and should be used. It is a rainy day, a perfect time to make soup, I have all the ingredients, also perfect, thanks for helping me decide what to cook this afternoon.
Made it last night…wonderful!
Thank you for your consistently wonderful writing, beautiful photos and inviting recipes. I love onion soup, but unfortunately live with 2 (not one, but TWO) non-onion eaters, so a homemade French Onion soup will have to wait until I locate some friends to come share the results with me.
I need to know where you got your soup ladle – it’s gorgeous!
Can’t wait to try this!
Wow, just bought the cheese to make this soup today. I will be using vegetable stock instead of beef or chicken. Hope it comes out good. If you could post more vegetarian dishes that would be great. Thanks for the recipe. Can’t wait to try it. It’s cold here in Lake Havasu City,AZ.
Although maybe not traditional, I think provolone cheese is wonderful in french onion soup.
Thanks for the recipe! I have a much-beloved recipe of my own for onion soup, but I’ll give yours a try and see how they stack up – I wouldn’t be surprised if I like yours better. :) The only change I’ll make is that I like to cut the bread into cubes – it just makes it easier to eat. I pile a bunch of cubes in the soup and cover with cheese like normal. Delicious!
I know what’s for dinner tonight.
Lovely interpretation of a classy classic recipe. I bought ten pounds of onions the other day and there is always cheese in the fridge, seems like a great meal for this evening. But – $5, really? Not how I describe this recipe. You can make a onion soup for $5, but not this one.
More years ago than I can remember, I started using Julia’s recipe for this, my favorite, perfect soup. Thanks for sharing it and hope everyone tries it as they will never, ever, find a better recipe.
This is one of those calming recipes — standing over the stove, stirring the onions as they gradually carmelize and surrender to sweet amber perfection — restores the soul. Thank you for sharing.
The colors in that top pictures are fabulous. These are great recommendations for getting the most flavor out of the onions. I could eat this any night of the week, even in the middle of summer.
Looks delicious! Will be trying this tonight with the italian bread I made. ;) Yum.
This looks delicious, thanks for posting this recipe! I’m a college student (money is tight) and don’t have much cooking experience, so this is absolutely perfect.
Do you recommend any other recipes on your site that are easy, cost efficient, and/or quick to make?
Bella — I have some recipes tagged as “budget“. It is not an exhaustive list of what’s here, but it will hopefully give you someplace to start.
Oh my WORD.
I’m currently on a 4-week detox diet, and that first photo almost made me cry.
This is definitely being added to my Things I Must Eat/Make list for next month.
The photos are fabulous, even the bowls scream rustic, homey, warm deliciousness!
Deb I love your writing style, I think you are hilarious!
(Have linked to this recipe on my tumblr)
Thanks again for a mouth-watering post.
I can smell it now. I first made Julia’s recipe in 1964 when I was a new bride. Everyone loves it. Here’s a suggestion. Although this sounds self-evident — toast your bread in the oven. (I talked to someone who told me it took her forever to toast the bread in the toaster and it never dried out enough. Duh.) Approximately 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Check after 10 minutes and turn over. Another suggestion: Cut the bread into large cubes then toast in the oven. Makes it easier to eat. I’ve always used Gruyere, maybe I’m in a rut. And please — always add the cognac.
I absolutely love your site, beautyful pictures and fine recipes.
French Onionsoup it one of my personal favorites.
Hi from Copenhagen :-)
I always modify Julia’s onion soup recipe, too. You just can’t beat the classics ;)
I’ve been making a French Onion soup recipe I think that’s just the best from a restaurant that was inside a major department store for many years where I grew up. The store is long gone, the restaurant too but luckily I got my hands on the recipe. It is very similar to Julia’s except for that addition of cognac (maybe that’s the real French part).
But one thing I have done to simplify it a bit for me is to cook the onions overnight in my crockpot. I add the ingredients typical for that long slow cooking, the butter, salt, sugar and a bit of wine…and then forget about them. I’ll cook double what is necessary for the soup and love having caramelized onions in the fridge for omelets, sandwiches, fajitas and more. Call me a caramelized onion addict. I can handle it.
Oh Deb, there’s nothing like a good bowl of French onion soup. I use a very similar recipe, but I like to add asiago cheese to the top. What a comfort, this soup is!
I just watched a cooking show on this yesterday and it started my craving. This is cementing that craving, forcing me to indulge…
My husband just bought a huge bag of white onions, would this work instead of the yellow onions??
typo: “… but that doesn’t we don’t enjoy the graitinèed top once in a while.”
Typos — Thanks, fixed.
the cognac is not optional! otherwise, this recipe is perfect :)
Love onion soup! I agree with one of your other followers that it isnt a cheap meal to make. With something as simple as an onion soup it is all dependent on the quality of ingredients. I think everyone has their own version of it. I like a little brandy and a little thyme. I’ll certainly be making it this week.
I’ve been trying to caramelise those onions for an hour now, and they’re just full of water, not going brown. Maybe I’ve used poor onions :(
I think I used too little onion, but so far it’s simmering and it’s alright. :)
I halved the recipe and chopped only one onion; I didn’t make a proper stock, going for more of a broth… but I hope it turns alright. Apparently we have 15 year old Hennessy in the cabinet, so maybe that’ll up the flavour ;)
@Julie Those onions cook way down to hardly anything
I love onion soup, but I make a variation I had in a restaurant in Vermont a couple of years ago- it used sweet onions, chicken stock, fresh thyme, and a small splash of apple cider. It is a much lighter tasting soup, but a great alternative to the original.
As a novice cook you are my go-to website when i feel like cooking something new. but this is the first time i have seen a recipe and just had to try making it immediately! Looking at your photos, I think i didn’t carmelize the onions enough but even still it was delicious. french onion soup is easily my favorite, and now i can make it on my own!
couple of typos… one in the third to last paragraph… “but that doesn’t *mean* we don’t enjoy the graitinèed top once in a while” and also in the footnote… “Porcini or mushroom stock are *a* robust vegetarian substitutions”
beautiful french onion soup! looks as mouthwatering and elegant as always!
@Corcaigh: Definitely noted, haha.
Nevertheless, the portions were just right for two, so hooray! It turned out really, really nicely and was absolutely delicious. very filling, too!
oof. definitely need to exercise a lot next week. ;)
I want this NOW! And I also want your ladle. Where did you get it?
Nothing better than onion soup! I’ve taken the ‘carmelizing of the onions’ trick from Cooks Illustrated. Much easier and a deep, rich flavor. You carmelize them in the oven over a number of hours, same effect, half the stirring/watching. Delish! Bon appetit!
This looks tasty! I’m always looking for good recipes because my husband is super picky. I’ll have to give this one a try!
Your flickr upload caught my eye even before the post appeared, and I thought ahead to this rainy weekend – it was the perfect use for the beef stock I had been hoarding in the freezer. With homemade beef stock and the cognac and the slow caramelization, it was the best onion soup I’ve ever had. Thanks for putting the recipe in my path! I also used a bit of truffle oil on the croutons… a bit over the top but hey, I had guests :) So crazy good.
Oh, also made the arborio rice pudding linked to at the end of the post (from four years ago!) Great comfort food meal :)
Did you use a mandoline to slice the onions? I’m terribly bad at slicing them by hand, and my eyes start tearing up after half an onion!
Mushroom or porcini stock as a vegetarian substitution?
I think…I love you.
You have no idea how long I’ve been trying to find a substitute for beef stock that might work for french onion soup. Thank you thank you THANK you.
Yum yum yum… this warms my soul just looking at the post.
I just spent the time and made this recipe – amazing. Simply amazing. The flavor is robust full and utterly satisfying. Nice work Deb!
Deb, I made this recipe late this afternoon and it was indeed perfect. I used Parmesan and Gruyere, white wine, but no cognac (didn’t have any, I know). The caramelized onions become almost sweet in the soup, which was so good with the cheese, we loved it. In a week or two I will post my results on my sight, giving you full credit for the recipe and following your FAQ answer. Thanks for a delicious dinner.
This looks wonderful. I’ll be making it one of these cooler/rainy days. Thanks :)
Our teenager is living back home for 4 months on a co-op work term with university. The deal is that he needs to cook the Sunday dinner. Tonight included French Onion Soup. I took a picture, which I am sure he has posted on his Facebook page, knowing that such a talent makes him a bit of a chick magnet. I loved and tasted great!
Darling son’s first FOS: http://twitpic.com/4jevgm
My version from earlier this year: http://ottawafood.blogspot.com/2011/01/king-louis-xvs-soupe-loignon-gratinee.html
Someone mentioned doing the onion caramelization in the oven. I have tried that successfully. But I am a fiddler. I like to stir and look and smell so have resorted to going back to the stove top. Also think it might be more energy conscious but what do I really know about that.
Our teenager has been reading Smitten Kitchen for about 3 years now. Longer than I have been a food blogger. I blame him for my food porn addiction.
Oh thank you so much! Just barely pregnant, but already starving and nothing sounds good except THIS SOUP. I’m a little weepy with gratitude.
How does the cognac or brandy contribute to the flavour of the soup? Do you think it’s something that should definitely be included? Which do you prefer, cognac or brandy?
So Going to make this! I might be the only one in my house who will eat it, but so what?! Though the last time I made onion soup was about 15 years ago, and my mother and I ate so much of it you didn’t want to light a match in the house! (Any ideas for fixing that effect?)
For the fellow vegetarians, a little miso definitely deepened the umami flavor of the soup way back when. I’ve gotten very into mushroom broth, using stems and a bit of dried to make stock when I sautee wild mushrooms and then using it for quinoa. This looks like a beautiful follow up to allow for gourmet night after gourmet night!
This recipe spoke to me this afternoon when I was trying to figure out dinner. The onions took a bit longer for me, but I think it was more a fear of overheating (and burning) than anything inherently wrong with the recipe. Lesson learned. Thank you for the dinner inspiration and the excuse to buy a bottle of wine for Sunday evening.
This soup looks delicious. Can’t wait to try it!
Oh, and where it says “To finish [Gratinèe],” it should actually be an acute accent over the e (accent aigu), not a grave accent (accent grave): “gratinée.”
This is the first recipe I have made from your site, and I love it. My husband doesn’t like onion soup as a rule and he finished his own and mine. Thank you so much for your beautiful blog!
I had my very first “real” onion soup at Applebees just yesterday. It was so tasty! Now I’m looking for a good recipe for my very large family. I think yours just might fit the bill.
Oh – PS:
Next time I might go with 2lbs, or 2.5lbs of onion.
And I think I’d like to try sweet onion sometime, and leave out the sugar. I wonder how that would work?
I made this tonight. It took awhile but it was worth it. A little bummed i couldnt get cognac… Maybe next time. Thanks again Deb :)
It is a wonderful soup! Mother always used swedish hard cheese such as Herrgard or Svecia on top, and added some thyme in the soup. Delicious!
– I very, VERY much apreciate your recipes, since a long time ago I use them as the go to place;
-I live somewhere in Europe, where usually recipes are in grams, except for small quantities, i.e. salt, which we generally use by teaspoon;
-I very humbly (and I mean humbly) dare to suggest that, when transforming quantities in grams, to round them at 25 grams. For example, I would never, for the love of everything, use 680 grams of onions, but 700. And I think you wouldn’t mind an extra fraction of an ounce when you have a pound and a half. Even for the butter, where the tranformation in metric calls for 42 grams, I would round it at 50 (also, knowing that butter packages come in 200 or 250 grams, it’s so easy to divide);
-would you be so kind to appreciate how much is a tablespoon of butter? Ounces are alrght. I take it for being 25 grams of butter for a tblsp. About one ounce;
-I’m sorry to sound like miss Prissy, it’s just me…
Big kiss on J’s cheeks! (oh, the fresh, firm cheeks of a baby!)
This looks incredible. I have never actually tasted or cooked onion soup, a sin I know! Julia is always so wise (and so are you!), so I’m looking forward to trying this very VERY soon!
I guess it should be “gratinéed” – Alt130 should work for the accent.
I freaking love onion soup. I’ve used gourmet’s recipe with thyme forever, which is absolutely delicious – but this looks perfect without to.
As for the discussion on budget vs. non budget – I think this is budget for someone who cooks. I almost always have an open bottle of wine around, and a bag of onions is almost without exception in my kitchen. I think anything that is mostly staples is budget, because these are things you are buying anyway. Beautiful, Deb!! (I mean, gruyere is awesome, but can I confess to using the mozza ball?? Er, not very french, but yeah. Stilll good.)
Julia’s other soups in Mastering are pretty dynamite as well — I make the leek and potato soup all the time, and recently made her cream of mushroom soup for the first time which was just lovely. Now keeping my eyes open for sorrel to try her sorrel soup.
Like another of your posters, I am not sure the French Onion soup recipe really serves six — I have gotten five but never six.
I have a question – if you do it in a Dutch Oven, is it okay to pour the wine in? I thought you were supposed to keep acid away from Dutch Ovens?
mariah — Totally fine. Most Dutch ovens are indeed cast iron, but then coated with enamel, inside and out, so there’s no direct seasoning to mess up. Or at least that’s what I understand from my Staubs.
diana — One tablespoon of butter is half an ounce or 14 grams. I hear you about the rounding, but I like the precision of being specific, assuming most folks use digital scales. If I told you that 14 grams was instead 10 for rounding, by the time you had 3 tablespoons of butter, you could be off by a full tablespoon, which would definitely mess up a baking recipe. But, there’s no reason that you cannot round the numbers I present, knowing that they haven’t already been.
Elizabeth — I used a knife. But I ordered these shortly thereafter. My eyes are really sensitive. I’ve tried every onion-cutting trick in the book, but none save me from pounds of yellow onions in a tiny kitchen!
Sweet onions — Personally, I prefer the yellow ones. Because they start with such an agressive bite, once caramelized and sweetened, they have a more dynamic flavor than an onion that started mild and only got sweeter. That’s my rationale, at least. Meanwhile, I just saw a recipe for a sweeter onion soup with some other stuff in it and may not be able to resist making it, as it seems to take the extra sweetness in mind. I’ll share it here, if it is indeed amazing.
Accent correction — Thank you!
Samantha — First, I need to say that I forget to add the Cognac or brandy about 75% of the time. It is wonderful in there but the soup is also wonderful without it. It’s just an extra layer of flavor. If you don’t want to shell out a lot, get brandy. If you think you’ll appreciate having it around, get Cognac.
One of my favorites! Yum!!
sounds awesome! i will try it today.
Thanks for the live-conversion to european measurement! <3
I grew up in Montreal, where Onion soup is soul food. Over the years the best methodology I have used is the one Cook’s Illustrated developed, where you caramelise the onions in the oven first and then finish on the stove top creating very deep, dark luscious frond. Also their version uses both beef and chicken stock which also gives a nice depth of flavour.
This might be heresy, but I make my onion soup in a crockpot. Yes, I’m that lazy. Basically, fill the crock with sliced onions, add 4 T butter, and cook on low for 8-10 hours. The onions get beautifully caramelized and the house smells amazing. Then in with the beef stock until it’s hot; good quality stock is absolutely mandatory here. Separately, oven-toast slices of baguette with grated cheese on top. Put a toast round in the bottom of a soup bowl, ladle over some soup, and enjoy!
Man, I don’t know why but onion soup seems to give people MEGA nasty gas. Also: Never use garden onions for this purpose. They are way too strong. I was sweating the smell of onions for like two days, like in that book “the whipping boy.”
Love Onion Soup, will definately be trying this version! yours looks very colourful :)
I adore onion soup. But we have a huge debate going on in our house about this soup. Well, not the soup itself, but the treatment of bread and cheese. I love the traditional method of plopping in the bread and broiling the cheese over top. My husband says this creates a soggy gross mess of bread in the soup. And he has a point. He likes simple croutons and a spinkle of cheese. Either way, onion soup is lovely!
Love, love love onion soup. Beautiful photos, too. I’m not sure what my kids would think of this soup, but you’ve inspired me. Sometimes, you just have to make yourself happy!
I prefer lots of homemade croutons(easier to get on a spoon), thick slices of fontina, and a sprinkling of grated parm…yum!!!
Onion soup? Mais oui! Another have-to-try-this-week recipe. Thanks for continuing to crank out great recipes!
Please write a book! Have you considered it?
When I have a sinus cold brewing, I make French onion soup…I caramelize the onions, and the fragrance of the soup cooking fills the house and opens my sinus’…and then I eat it…better than chicken soup for a cold.
OH onion soup! how good you are!
We love onion soup, but I’ve never made it. I’m thinking mushroom broth would probably work in place of the beef broth?! This looks amazing and I will definitely be trying it out. PS – the photos of your son are absolutely adorable :-)
My boyfriend makes endless fun of me for it, but I keep a pair of swimming goggles in my kitchen drawer, just for onions. I may look ridiculous, but in the privacy of my kitchen I don’t care! (Those Onion googles you posted look slightly less ridiculous :) ) I suspect once I tackle this recipe, he’ll be too grateful to ever mock me again
Julia all the way.
I bought her “The Way to Cook” in 1989, and the onion soup version therein is my basic. I usually double it, as it freezes quite well, and it doesn’t take much longer to slice 5 lbs. of onions thinly.
Now I want to make some. It’s been too long!
The soup looks yummy and I have to say, I am very impressed with how clean your white stove looks!
I’ve been making a similar version for years now. The onions MUST be cooked for a long time (sometimes up to an hour) to truly caramelize, as you have in above recipe. I use vermouth and add a few sprigs of fresh thyme that I fish out before serving. The thyme adds another layer of complexity. Now I’m craving onion soup!
My most favorite soup in the world! I’ve only ever been able to enjoy it in Paris though, never seems to taste the same anywhere else… This really does look tempting though, might have to give it a go!
For vegetarians — you can make any kind of soup or gravy that would normally have a brown-stock base with vegetable stock! And it will taste right! Just add a good spoonful (or more — it depends on how much stock you are using, so you need to taste this to check the amounts) of Marmite when you add the stock (and yes, Marmite is fairly vile by itself, but it does amazing things to vegetarian soups & gravies). It works, I swear.
This is one of my favorite comfort foods, but I rarely get to enjoy it as a vegetarian – thank you so much for including the vege mushroom stock suggestion to make it veggie! Delicious!
WOW are those goggles helpful? The soup looks might – t- fine indeedy!
Lately I have been dreaming of whipping up some homemade french onion soup, and now I feel I must follow through!
When I was younger I went through a very strong onion soup phase right after I had my first taste- no matter where I was, if it was on the menu, my meal was build around that as my starter!
I will be saving this recipe for a rainy/dreary day in when the comfort and ooey-gooeyness is most needed.
this looks amazing!
I use a couple good glugs of dry sherry in mine. fantastic!
All excellent advice. Here’s my tip – go big! tuck away numerous containers in the freezer for when you don’t feel like cooking and want something good and homey. But that is my general approach to cooking. mmmm……..
I made this soup for my husband and I last night and it was nothing less than FANTASTIC! It has definitely become a staple because it was so incdibly easy too!
Oh my. That makes me want onion soup so much! My favorite way to carmelize the onions is in the crock pot – it makes the gorgeousness of onion soup that much easier… Gah, I’m sensing some onion soup in my future!
this recipe rocks…i made this for the 1st time last night…it was INSANE….SO GOOD…thanks a lot. absolutely lovin’ your blog.
I can’t wait to make this! I made a French onion soup once with leftover stock from a Suzanne Goin braised short rib recipe (this one: http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/12/braised-beef-short-ribs/) and although it was not traditional, it was incredibly delicious, to the point where I’m thinking of sneaking some sacrilegious port into my next batch of onion soup!
I just returned from France and one of my husband’s favourite things is french onion soup – we proclaimed that we would try to make it once home (while devouring a heaping bowl in Paris) and this recipe came at the perfect time! Can’t wait to try it out.
I am surprised to see this since you were so harsh on salty soups in the past few months…. all the times I’ve ever had it it was quite salty… tempting though to be sure!
I just made the Bouchon version of onion soup this week. EIGHT pounds of onions cooked down to less than 2 cups, which took about 7 1/2 hours (the recipe said 6 hours). He recommends making the soup base the day before to let the flavors meld.
I have to say, it was the best onion soup I’ve ever had, and I’ve made the Julia version. Not sure that it’s worth the time for everyone, but Google it if you’re interested and don’t have the book (at $50, who could blame you?)
One worthwhile tip for any version of the soup is to cut the onions pole to pole (with the grain), which really helps keep the onions from falling apart.
How you manage to make raw onion slices look delicious is incredible. Great photos. Great topic. And as I’ll find out in the very near future, great recipe. Thanks for sharing!
As one of my kids said, “Everything that hurts feels better with onion soup.” I always make extra of the onions to heap onto pasta or salad the next day. Your photos are lovely and the food inspiring.
Could one use a pressure cooker to reduce the final cooking time?
Thanks for the great recipe!
oh yumm! I bought little french onion soup bowls last year but got afraid to make it after seeing someone on the Food Network say that it’s a difficult thing to make and succeed, but after seeing your recipe, I want to try it! It’s supposed to rain this weekend and I think that will be the perfect time to have some good warm comfort food like French Onion Soup! I can’t wait!
Checked your site at work and quitely whispered “yessss!!!” to myself when I saw this post! <3 love French Onion soup!
Have you tried the Cook’s Illustrated method of starting the onions in the oven and then caramelizing and deglazing in increments? If so, I’d like to know why you settled on this method instead. I tried their way this winter when I made this for the first time (partly to use up the rest of the Gruyere I had from your amazing cauliflower gratin), but still found it pretty time-consuming. While it was certainly full-flavored and had quite a rich aroma, I actually ended up being sick of the smell of onions and threw about 1/4 of the pot away I believe, as it took the two of us about a week to get through the pot. I highly reccomend Julia’s technique for the gratinee, especially the cheese stirred into the soup (I don’t think I bothered with the grated onion, but might next time, especially if serving more than 2). To us, it really needed the combination of Gruyere AND Parmesan, but perhaps it all depends on your cheese. Ours greatly benefited from the extra saltiness/umami of the Parmesan, plus I didn’t quite have enough Gruyere to get a very cheesy top, and I think the Parmesan we buy is a bit cheaper than Gruyere, for the budget-minded. (It’s also something we always keep around, which I wish was also the case for the Cognac, as I imagine it elevates this to heavenly, but I couldn’t bring myself to purchase it.) Sigh…I want to make this again now, but the long cooking time means I have another 2 seasons to wait, as our tiny little apartment here in Iowa is already having a hard time keeping cool, making me wish to be back in moderate Germany, where good Gruyere was easy to come by and Spaetzle was always on the menu.
I’m thrilled with a good vegetarian stock alternative. I wonder if my local grocery has mushroom stock. I am pretty sure I have 3 onions left, but I can always use more!
I made this last night for a late dinner with my husband. Hit the spot and helped him to forget the pain of continuously being beat by me at You Don’t Know Jack. The caramelization took longer for me (about an hour) because I used more onions and the inside of my Dutch Oven is white enamel. I ended up raising the flame to a solid medium to get things going. Also, breaking out the Courvoisier always brings out the giggles as my husband does a mean Leon Phelps (Tim Meadows’ Ladies Man). So thank you for the laughs and the great food and breakfast for the thirteen year old. You are magnifique, dude!
I have some of this in my freezer from the last batch we made, and I think I am going to get it out to thaw for a dinner later this week. mmm…
I’m a huge fan of Julia’s French Onion Soup. I especially like the gratineed version from her fantastic book, The Way to Cook, of which I’m fortunate to have an autographed copy. I’ve made it in the large casserole, and brought to the table immediately it makes quite a presentation! The taste is divine, as I’m sure this version is as well. You can’t go wrong with Julia! I really enjoy your blog!
Oh my, I want to go back to Paris now more than ever :) If this is the cheapest way to bring back those memories and pretend I’m in that atmosphere, well then, I guess I just better get started…
made this last night…incredible! Each member of the family, from 13 to 53
slurped up every last drop. Yum.
I have never liked onion soup in the past and now, after reading your post and seeing your pics, I feel the need to make it. you’re good!
It has been a long time since I have had french onion soup. I will be making this next week for sure!
Love onion soup! I made one recently that added a bit of Dijon mustard in with the caramelized onions….so delicious!
I cannot wait to try this recipe! Thank You!
The soup looks yummy! For those wondering about the onion goggles – I’ve had a pair for years, and they work for me. My eyes are very sensitive and the goggles are a lifesaver; even shallots bother me. I used to have to dash away from the cutting board every few chops, but now I can make it through my chopping duties in relative comfort (and despite any mocking – they do look kinda silly).
I love onion soup and this looks delicious!! Perfect for a cold day!
This recipe looks incredible! Is the butter/oil combination in the beginning used so the onions don’t burn?
Audrey — Yes, that’s exactly why!
Bobanda — It’s only too salty if you add too much salt. Restaurants almost always do, I usually cannot eat them. At home, perfect seasoning is yours for the taking!
I woke up with a cold this morning – could not have been happier when I saw this!! Onions are caramelizing right now…
Oh man…In my twenties, I used to make F.O.S. for my hubbie (then boyfriend) about once a week. I made it for the first time in years about two months ago. We felt so nostalgic. I told my kids that their dad and I ate it so much because we were poor and onions are cheap. (I didn’t share with them the $15.00 I spent on cheese. The whole point of making it is getting to nibble on cheese and wine while the onions cook, right?) Does anyone else throw a bay leaf or a little thyme in?
Made this for the fam this weekend. SO GOOD. This is my husband’s favourite soup and it was PERFECT. Thanks for the newest addition to my ‘go to’ soup recipes.
We made this for tea yesterday and it was seriously amazing! We made a veggie broth using half ordinary veggie stock and half vegimite mixed with water and amazingly, it tasted perfect. I love your site and spend hours cruising through it. I must have 50 of your recipes scribbled on scraps of paper and distributed amongst various handbags, desks and kitchen shelves. Thank you for your super blog! I love it!
Delicious! I love French onion soup, and this recipe does the job quite well. I was just shy of sobbing while I was preparing those devilish onions. The dog didn’t dare to enter the kitchen while I was chopping. But, the pain is completely worth it, soup was so so so delicious, wish I made more!
Thank you for giving the vegetarian substitute! Since becoming vegetarian I hadn’t figured out how to replace the beef stock, since vegetable stock just doesn’t have that rich flavour.
The first time I had French onion soup I wasn’t a fan (is there such a thing as too flavorful?) but this, well this might make me have to try it all over again.
YUMMY!!!!!!! I agree with Eric on the Bouchon version being amazing (and really, really labor-intensive! So many onions!) and have only ever made the soup with a few drops of sherry vinegar at the end like TK suggests… now I’m really really wanting to try it with cognac instead! Any suggestions on buying cognac since I’m completely unfamiliar with it? Thank you!!
This looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g!
My husband and I are huge fans of onion soup, but I would need to go out and buy oven proof bowls. Thanks for sharing.
I’m so, so, so poor right now (rent, man, you know?), so this was great. But it takes years and years to prepare. I wish there was a way to make great french onion soup in 20 minutes, but alas.
The fabulous aroma of caramelizing onion….I can imagine the first sip. I love onion soup! Now I’m wondering why I never make it? My favorite bowl, a lovely spoon….OK, onions on the shopping list for this weekend.
I made this last night after ending a two year-long streak of vegetarianism. It was absolutely fantastic. My boyfriend said it was the best soup he had ever had, and I have to say that it is probably the best french onion soup I’ve ever had as well. I would not attempt to add bay leaves, rosemary, or any other seasonings. It’s awesome as is. Sidenote: Caramelizing the onions took a bit longer for me, so the soup as a whole ended up taking 2 hours. This may have been since I used a pot that wasn’t very heavy on the bottom so I was afraid of burning the onions to the bottom and may have reduced the heat more than necessary.
My modifications: I used half beef broth and half vegetable broth since I’m still easing into using “meat products” and don’t like when things taste too meaty; I also don’t like using all of a single type of broth because I think it tastes less interesting and too much like I’m just drinking broth by itself. I also didn’t gratinee mine because I’m lazy, but I really enjoy buying a baguette, slicing it up, and crumbling/grating various cheeses on top (usually Parmesan and Gruyere; some goats cheese if I have it) and then baking the little baguette slices for 10-15 minutes so they get toasty and the cheese melts. I then put a few of the baguette slices in the soup, top the soup with more cheese, and let it all sit for a few minutes to melt the cheese, let the bread soak up the broth, and let the soup cool off. I find that this is very easy and is almost just like actually gratinee-ing the soup, as the bread breaks down quickly and is easy to eat out of the bowl even if it’s not originally in bite-sized pieces.
That looks so delicious, love you blog! Always have the best recipes!
Thank you for this recipe …
Here at home everyone loved, even my daughter who did not like soup, that she loved, ate a lot!!
Even very tasty, easy to do and cost is also low.
Thanks for this, I used to make my onion soup a little differently – but after trying your recipe I have switched completely. I highly recommend this low cost meal.
To some this soup up in one work it would have to be beautiful. All the aromas and tastes combine to produce a great flavour on the pallet. The onion is not too overpowering and it makes a wonderful lunch with some fresh french stick bread. Many people haven’t heard or tryed onion soup but if you like onion then I would recomend this recipe to everyone.
I convinced my mother to make this for dinner last night – and I was super disappointed. This is the first time I haven’t LOVED one of these recipes. The soup was made with half the suggested amount of sugar, and it still tasted really really sweet. Oh well, on to the next recipe.
Onion soup has become a January staple in our house. The market has lots of different onions and I LOVE the flavor you get from mixing onion varieties.
This onion soup is a truly amazing recipe, I served it at a family dinner and has been a delight. I usually am not that adventurous with new food recipes but this is better than any restaurant can make it. I used chicken instead of the beef and it was nevertheless excellent. Great recipe, already recommended the blog to my friends.
Hmm Sounds delicious and simple to make. I already have most of the ingredients to go. Just need to add some cognac to my shopping list at the weekend and will definately be testing this out on my friends at a nice dinner party. Sounds like a perfect comfort food for winter nights too. There’s nothing quite like a nice homemade soup on those dark winter nights when you fall in from work and want something quick, tasty and nourishing to warm the bones and the heart.
This looks wonderful. It is on my list…..thanks for the details and the encouragement. I am reading the letters of Julia Child and Avis Devoto….I can imagine her in her kitchen with the onions….
Just made this. I used the mushroom stock and it was good, but def. needs more salt than I would imagine beef broth would. also, i have to agree with some previous comments regarding the cost. Gruyere is expensive!! It cost $12 to have enough. Because of that we decided not to splurge and buy cognac or brandy and so left it out. We didn’t have it lying around, sadly.
I also have a question: when I went to purchase crocks, the standard size for F.O. soup types (according to 2 different cooking stores) is 16oz. I made this recipe to exact measurement and it BARELY had enough for 4 half filled bowls. Is there another size you used to serve 6?
Oh, and one tiny little thing – the recipe did not say to cover the pot in the first 15 minute steep session. The next paragraph said, ‘uncover’ but dang if I didn’t notice that in my first read. So I didn’t cover and that set me back because the onions didn’t soften the way they should have. NO big deal and reminds me to read through the recipe more carefully.
Thanks for the delicious and creative recipes! I love trying all of these dishes.
I just thought I would let you know that the Cookbooker site (I am a member — nothing to do with owning, maintaining or publicizing the site) regularly has “cook the book” challenges. This month they are having a — first ever — “cook the website” challenge — you are the “most owned” site by the members there and everyone is looking forward cooking Smitten Kitchen recipes. We just couldn’t wait for the book to come out.
Hi AJ — Aw, thanks for sharing. I hope the book is worth the wait!
Nicole — Thanks for the thorough review. There is a direction to cover the pot (end of second sentence) but I first missed it when I just reread it too so I totally understand it happening!
made this last night and it was so incredible and easy and worth every minute of onion caramelizing.
I’ve never eaten French onion soup, and I am not sure I will like it, but it is just one of those cosy French dishes I am eager to try anyway.
I’d like to report that I made this for last night’s dinner and it was divine. I made it Tuesday night after the kids went to bed for Wed night dinner.
We didn’t have cognac or brandy around (we usually do) so I let that go. I didn’t have beef stock and the local co-op was out so I got this “better than boullion”…a short/squat jar w/ a paste inside that you add to hot water. I’ve never seen this before but it worked.
And…drumroll….my 3yo gave it a huge thumbs up and ae a big bowl. My 6yo was not in favor but three out of four is pretty good around here!
Kelly — Glad it was a hit. I’m a huge fan of Better Than Bouillon and always keep the beef, chicken and vegetable in the fridge if I’m in a pinch, or you know, want to improve rice. My only gripe is that they’re crazy salty, so you often don’t need any other added salt.
Can’t wait to try this! Is the flour essential in this recipe? Also I have some Pacific low sodium beef broth in the pantry. Do you think this would do, or do you have something else you would recommend?
LC — I used Pacific this time. The flour adds some body/thickness to the soup but if you don’t eat flour, I’m sure it will still be delicious. Maybe add an extra onion for bulk.
This was amazing! Usually the cheesy topping is the whole reason I ever order Onion soup but you are right this one doesn’t even need it. Delicious! Thanks for sharing.
Very interesting. I love how your recipe is very similar to how I have always done mine minus the sugar and the grated raw onion. I can see how two two steps would make a difference. Why is it that both French Onion Soup and Beef Bourguignon are such staples or colder days?
All this time I thought french onion soup was difficult to make but I like the simplicity of this recipe. I definitely will be trying to make this soon!
You are very mean to post this today! LOL!! I love french onion soup and have been dying for a bowl the last few days…and than here you go posting decriptions and pictures…well now I have to go make some….maybe even tonight! Thank you!!
I just wanted to say this recipe is amazing and going into my keepers file! Made a batch this afternoon and it’s a great antidote to the rainy, cloudy Seattle day. Thanks, Deb!
MMMMM so delicious! I think french onion has to be my fave, at least in my top 3!
Okay, so I made this recipe last night. And it’s good. Very good… but definitely not the best I’ve made. I should probably explain that my standards for excellent FO soup are absurdly high – it’s basically the first recipe I decided to learn to master when I realized it was time to learn to COOK, and not just prepare convenience/packaged things. And now, about 12 years later, FO soup is still one f my very favorite things to make. So I came to this recipe hopeful, though with very high requirements. My two favorite FO recipes are the Williams Sonoma one from their 2001 (I think, though perhaps it’s really from 2000) cookbook “Soup”, and the Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen one which uses the oven to do 2/3 of the caramelization (this is the same one that your commented from post 220 was referring to). The WS recipe uses more butter, twice the onions, and cooks entirely on the stove. It takes about 3 hours for the caramelization to complete and for the flavors to meld, and is so, so incredibly deep and heady in flavor it is like a taste bud revelation. There are no shortcuts – nothing like flour or sugar to help the caramelizing process along, just lots, and lots of gentle heat and a hell of a lot of stirring to prevent burning or sticking. It is my gold standard for rich flavor. The CI recipe gains richness, instead from it’s oven cook method and the multiple deglazings of the fond that forms. That one also uses the addition of thyme to add another layer of flavor that definitely enhances the overall experience, and has great mouthfeel. The CI is my most commonly made FO recipe at this pint for convenience’s sake. It still needs a good hour of prep/stove time, but with a 4 year old running around I take what time I can grab. I’m sure you know what I mean. ;) So now onto this recipe. First, it had great onion flavor, but not high enough. I think the recipe should be a bit more specific than to cook until an “even, deep golden brown,” which is actually rather subjective. I did this and cook for probably 50 minutes post-sweating stage, and most people would say it was fine… but if it had called to cook until it was the color of a grocery store paper bag it would have been so, so much richer in flavor and more easy for people to understand, I think, and would have negated the need to add sugar at all. Also, I didn’t care for flour as a thickener – heck, I don’t care for any sort of thickener for onion soup. I did add the cognac, as I happened to have an open bottle of Hennessey in the cabinet, but I think it actually made the soup flatter than it would have been had it been left out and the onions just left to brown further. I missed the flavor of thyme and bay leaf that I’ve come to realize adds brightness and complexity, too. Also, the grted raw onion in the gratinee was completely and utterly lost. I couldn’t taste even the smallest bite. And the french bread was fine, but when I was in France I picked up the habit of tearing the bread into rough pieces before toasting, which gives even more of a rustic flair to it and adds more crevices and crannies for the cheese to melt into. Don’t get me wrong – it was a nice soup recipe, and about 100 times better than most people who open a box of onion soup mix and add water an call it a day. But it won’t replace my other two favorites, sorry. Hope this was helpful, and if you’re interested in either of the other two recipes I referred to, just shoot me and email. I’d be happy to pass them on to you. :)
And sorry for the spelling errors. I’d go back and try to correct them, but the previously mentioned 4 year old makes that a bit difficult, lol.
Can you make this soup well ahead-of-time for a party? And then just re-head in the stove or on the oven before adding cheese/croutons?
This looks delicious. It’s so unique to have a french onion soup without cream, and this seems like the perfect recipe. Not to heavy.
Made this for dinner tonight, and holy moly, it was good! Deep flavor, rich, perfect for a chilly overcast day.
Uhm, I still have this in the last stages of simmering on the stove, and I think I have used my “tasting spoon” (read: large soup spoon) enough that I have probably eaten about an entire bowl-size serving *while* it’s been cooking. No cognac or brandy in the house, but may try adding a little bourbon at the end… Mmmm.
Update: bourbon works! Used 3 tbsp and husband thinks it’s perfect… I’ll probably use 2 1/2 tbsp next time, but it really is pretty damned delicious. Lighter than I’d expected it to be, with an unbelievable amount of wonderful complex flavor. Wow. I’m hooked. And I loooooove that it doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. This one is gonna be a staple around here. Thanks!
this is the second time only I’ve made FOS and this recipe has really raised the bar. Think i will try adding some thyme next time as others have suggested but it was extra great just as it was. Rainy night here in Sydney; perfect antidote!
This was delicious! I actually skipped the raw onion and the oven baking – I just stuck the bowls directly under the broiler with toasted French bread and cheese to finish off and served. I didn’t read the whole recipe before starting, so it was dinner time and my family was getting restless. It was still very yummy!
Please do not add sugar, it is totally unnecessary and people really add it to hide the shortcuts they take with ingredients and technique. Also do not leave out dry wine or it will be too sweet (Although too sweet is not in the vocabulary of most Americans). In a pinch dry rice wine will substitute. I really prefer Greyere or Emmentaller. The key to this soup is to caramelize the onions until they look like they might burn, they can get extremely dark. This is what separates the men from the boys in onion soup making and does not cost a cent except perhaps in power bills. I used to make this in college because I was poor. This was after I left being a chef so I could have a life and went back to school. I trained with French Chefs and never once saw so much as a pinch of sugar.
Liz, have you read this blog for long? When Deb takes a shortcut, she does so because it’s a smart, pragmatic move. And “too sweet”? Have you made any of the cakes, cookies, scones, and other baked goods from this blog? Many Americans do indeed have a threshold for sweetness that is far lower than people from other cultures may think it is, and the sweet recipes here are shining examples of the fact that there IS such a thing as too much sugar. I haven’t yet made a baked good from this blog that was too sweet, and many others can say the same.
One of the good things about America is that we gladly take opportunities to do things our own way, and that includes making a classical dish as best suits one’s tastebuds. Why judge the way someone else makes a dish? It’s wasted energy. You do it your way, I’ll do it mine, and we can both be happy.
Liz — Sugar isn’t a shortcut. It’s a suggestion by Julia Child to get the most out of your onions. There’s absolutely no reason you have to use if you believe it is unnecessary.
Mame — Make it until it says “Set aside until needed”. Maybe 40 minutes before you want to serve it, bring it back to a boil and continue from there.
Deb, Thank you for the absolutely incredible dinner last night! This soup was incredible made with my homemade veggie broth and I didn’t even have brandy to add. Topped with fresh baked Italian bread and finished with romano cheese toasty in the broiler. I skipped the toasting the bread step, and that was a mistake. I’ll definitely toast next time! Bread was a bit overly soggy. I’m going to put a link to your recipe on my blog to spread the deliciousness!
I made this a few days ago, and it blew my mind! I thought the french onion I was getting at restaurants was good, but they have nothing on this recipe. I can’t imagine what it would taste like if I had the brandy on hand or homemade broth. I just used regular old beef boullion cubes. I also made mine too saltly, but it was still fantastic!
I tried it but had no french bread so used a whole loaf 7 grain which added an element of nuttiness. This was very good. Its simple but takes time in the kitchen lest any newby take the few steps and be surprised. It just needs nudging along. Great to cook when you have a project you can do alongside.
Now its sunny so may have to park this recipe until the fall.
i had to make this right away and it was amazing. perfect for the last few days which have been snowing!!
thank you so much for this. love the photos!!!
My uncle makes the most amazing onion soup for Christmas every year. I can almost replicate his recipe when I need a mid-winter pick me up. It’s almost always what I want when I have a cold. I know he adds some worcestershire sauce and uses beef consumme as well as broth. In a pinch a couple weeks ago I just used the consumme and added a can of water and then added a bit of low sodium soy sauce (a total accident since I thought I had grabbed the worcestershire, but it worked!). I hate onions and I love onion soup! I usually stick to a broth or throw in mushrooms to have a bit more substance to it. I agree on the slow caramelization. I also usually remove a couple spoonfuls and cook them on a higher heat and then add back to deepen the flavor a bit. Garlic is a must too. Just a bit, about 1 med/sm clove per onion (for small batch). For me it enhances the onions.
He’s also made it with vegetable stock and we perceived no differences. Still delish!
So embarrassing but this gave me VERY nasty gas, though it didn’t affect my husband (poor him!). Does anyone know why this would be and what I can do to avoid it? The soup was awesome but I couldn’t make it again given the reaction I had!!
This was extremely good, and since I had an ancient piece of Gruyere in my fridge, an inch of wine at the bottom of a bottle, a deformed baguette I’d made the night before out of extra pizza dough, and a container of very rich chicken stock I’m made from Monday’s roast-chicken leftovers, I felt very frugal indeed–most of the above would have probably been tossed after some vague statute of limitations had expired or mold had formed. The specified brown stock would have been better than my chicken stock, I’m sure, and I agree with the posters who think they might want to go with another onion–once my five cups of onions had sweated, melted, and carmelized, I had a sad little blob at the bottom of my Dutch oven, maybe a cup. I did notice and like the teeny bit of raw onion in the bowl–it seemed to lift and brighten the flavor a bit. What is saved in $ is lost in time, but there is something pleasingly meditative about watching onions go slowly, slowly gold right before your eyes. Another keeper, Deb! Thanks.
I made this for dinner tonight! I used sweet onions because they are the only onions I actually like. I ended up using closer to 3 or 4 pounds of onions (around 8 1/2 cups at least). This had nothing to do with a concern over shrinking onions during the caramelization phase and everything to do with my own inability to accurately estimate how much the onions weighed and my grocery store’s inability to provide a scale since apparently the children of the neighbourhood played with it by hanging off of it until it broke…
It was incredible (I opted to use the brandy!). I only had one minor issue (well maybe two). The first problem I had was that I had so many onions (my own fault really) that there was simply no way to turn them around to coat them with the butter/oil for the initial cooking process (and I used the largest Le Creuset in my cupboard, 6.9L). I ended up drizzling them with olive oil and dropping a few extra butter bits on top so all the onions were actually coated at least a little bit.
The second issue was that 25 minutes into the caramelization process there was a lot of liquid in the pot and the onions were boiling in their own juices. I turned the heat up to a moderate high heat and boiled off the liquid as quickly as possible (this took about 15 minutes or so) and then reduced the heat to a smidge above medium for another 40 minutes to caramelize them fully (1 hour 20 mins total). I found that the onions required 40 minutes to fully caramelize even on a medium-high heat (after cooking off all the liquid).
This recipe is definitely a winner for me! Thanks for sharing and testing it out for us Deb!
Delightful! For months now I have been craving french onion soup but had yet (until this recipe) to find a soup that really satisfied my craving. I made this tonight and served it with a french baguette from a local bakery…divine.
OMG tried this in a French restaurant and fell in love with it!
Thanks for sharing will try it out!!! :D
My mouth is literally watering. This looks so delicious …beyond words!
I cut this in half and made it with mushroom broth and it was delicious! Be careful with the salt, I love salt, but found this a little too salty in the end. When using mushroom broth, don’t be alarmed if it smells shroomy when you add it at first, when it simmers with the rest of the onions, it takes on the sweet oniony flavor really well. I didn’t use Cognac or Brandy, but used the wine and it was great, didn’t know what I was missing. I used sourdough bread and Gruyère which was a nice treat but didn’t really need it.
I am seriously drooling. No, seriously.
Made this yesterday & it was FANTASTIC! Thank you for the recipe =D
D’oh! I need to read recipes CAREFULLY!!
Deb, I just wanted to say how impressed I am with your patience with all of us and our hundreds of comments. That you take the time to read and respond means so much.
I can’t believe I actually made this last night. It was some of the best French onion soup I’ve ever had! And *I* made it!! Somehow, your version didn’t terrify me the way other recipes have and I love that it wasn’t overly simplified to the point of not *really* being French onion soup anymore.
I couldn’t really pull off the gratinee, though I tried (and also burned it… oops), but next time! For there WILL be a next time.
I want your cookbook to be out already so I can OWN IT.
Thank you so much for this recipe! I cannot wait to try it. French Onion soup is one of my worst (best!!?) downfalls. I cannot wait to try this.
if i don’t have wine (i learned this before I turned 21 and could buy it) I would make my french onion soup with a bit of dijon mustard and worcesteshire sauce
I spy some spots of green on top of the croutons in your finished pictures. Parsley? Is it just for pretties or does it add flavor?
Tricia — Just for pretties. I rarely fuss, but I had it out and a day of shooting brown-brown-brown had weakened my “meh” on silly finishes resolve.
Oh my gosh, I was totally planning on making this next weekend. It’s been unseasonably cold up here in Maine lately, and I’ve never made onion soup before, so it seemed like perfect timing for it. I’ve been making my way through Julia Child and had settled on her recipe. I am so excited to try your streamlined version instead. Thank you!
Having just eaten a horrible store brought can of Tomato soup for my lunch I now feel completely and brutally robbed. Teaches me for browsing your site during my lunch break and not going out for a walk instead. This will be on the menu tomorrow nights tea for sure!
it just doesn’t get any better.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Absolutely incredible recipe. Instead of beef stock I used duck stock (I happened to be making duck confit and thought this would be the perfect recipe to use up the remaining duck) which I simmered with thyme and used duck fat instead of butter. This will be my go-to onion soup recipe, the onion flavour was perfect. I did top mine with bread and Gruyere and I also used the cognac so this was particularly rich, but perfect and exactly what I was looking for. As always, thanks for posting, in the past 3 or so weeks I just check this website to see what I’m having for dinner ;)
I just made this, it was delicious! Unfortunately my onions didn’t get a really really deep color– even after i cooked them for about an hour (I didn’t want them to get too mushy), but the taste was still amazing. What a great meal to make on a rainy spring day! I’d recommend adding the cognac as well, as it gives it a great rich finish.
I’ve used this recipe since I received the original Child cookbook as a new wife. Cooking the onions to a mahogany color is the whole deal, and they won’t get “mushy” at all. You can’t get by with a pale roux if cooking creole or with pale onions in onion soup! No cheese or croutons for a low cal supper, or the whole gooey and delicious treatment to show off–this is delicious either way.
Who would have thought onion soup would be better if made properly. I am trying this on one of those wet days when I can’t go out in the garden. Thanks!
Awesome reciepe! I’ve never had onion soup…but this makes me want to run out & buy some oinons & Wine!!!
I had the same problem as one other commenter – the onions are taking FOREVER to caramelize — about twice the time indicated. I think that, in large part, it was because I had the heat WAY too low. The recipe above says to steep them at a very low heat, and then to raise the heat SLIGHTLY when beginning the caramelization process. I followed the directions to a T, as Deb is fantastic, but I’m wondering if the heat on my stove is just that different from others’… At any rate, I first turned the heat up to medium, and then to a bit above medium, and it FINALLY worked. It was a long process, but completely worth the results. Fantastic recipe.
I was so bummed to have seen this recipe the day AFTER I had already made French Onion Soup! I will be trying your recipe next time, for sure! Looks very comforting and rich
I had never made French Onion soup before.
In fact, I wasn’t even really a big fan of it to begin with…too salty or bland usually.
However, I read this blog and really was inspired to make it. I love onions so why wouldn’t I love this soup?
I made it.
It took me most of a night (after work) just to make the soup. The house still smelled like it in the morning too.
I didnt actually ‘finish’ the soup until 2 days later and it was phenomenal.
The flavors really meshed while it sat in my fridge for 2 days.
It wouldnt have been as stellar as it was if not for the Gratinee. Oh…since I didnt have over safe bowls, I took a baguette and put 4 slices in a circle and one in the middle, clumped them together on a baking sheet, liberally added the cheese on top and broiled for little under 2 min.
I am now an onion soup eater!
Did anyone else have trouble with the soup reducing too much? It’s entirely possible my burner is too hot, but I had it on the very lowest flame I could manage. I halved the recipe (probably my first problem) and had barely enough for two bowls–not much to show for all caramelizing work!
Nevertheless, they were two very rich, very delicious, very wonderful bowls of soup. I only wish I had more for work on Monday. Next time: full recipe!
This looks lovely! Did you find that the type of onions mattered (yellow vs white?) I must have this soon! Thanks Deb.
Amanda — I prefer yellow onions. They’re more harsh but more delicious once caramelized.
I used chicken stock in my recipe (I don’t eat beef) added extra booze!
I also use Gruyère, will worth the $$$$
This really was a labor of love, but the end result was amazing. My onions took forever to carmelize (more like 45+ mins) so next time I will bump up the heat a bit to speed things up for that portion. The only downfall is that when it comes out of the oven it is too hot to eat immediately. I kept trying anyway because it smelled so good and burnt my tongue a couple of times. We ate it with a shrimp caesar salad.
My wife is not gonna be happy about this. Lol, looks great, gonna give it a try.
“Kim” I saw you want to crank that heat up, be careful there. Shortcuts like that will get you in trouble. Sometimes low and slow is the best way to go. You can always try a pan with more surface area to try and speed that process up.
I made really gross French Onion soup lately and your post made me realize what I was missing . . . the long carmelizing process. I won’t skip it next time and I’ll be trying your recipe & technique soon.
Recently stumbled upon your blog and absolutely LOVE it. I have made this soup 2 times in the past two weeks. My husband picked up a HUGE bag of yellow onions last week and when I asked why we needed so many onions he said, “For the soup of course!” Safe to say, it is a hit in this house. Thank you for sharing your talent and making your recipes so accesible.
3 quick questions (unfortunately ctrl+F didn’t turn up anything):
1. Does using white instead of yellow onion alter the taste of the soup significantly?
2. Is rum a good substitute for brandy/cognac? or should I leave this out instead of trying to add rum? I bake sweets a lot but don’t drink, so rum is the only alcohol I usually keep. And how long does brandy/cognac last once opened? does it only last weeks like wine or longer? I will only be using it for cooking.
I’ve been itching to make this for weeks and promised myself I will make it once the final exams are over. Grr.
Fanya — I prefer yellow onions. The white ones don’t have a flavor that holds up well to the long cooking time. I’ve never tried this with rum but no reason not to. I don’t think that booze expires.
I feel the same way about onion soup (I’ve always used Julia’s recipe but will try this one soon) – I will reschedule my entire day if I feel the urge to make it. @Fanya I once used single malt whisky in place of cognac and it was delicious.
Can I do the gratinee bit in the whole casserole dish then decant it into individual (sadly not oven-proof) bowls?
I’m very excited to make this later!
Waahh, you respond too fast. Unable to resist the temptation, I made it today. The hardest part is not the long cook time. It is to STOP EATING THE ONIONS before putting the stock and wine in (I poured in the liquid before onion fully caramelized or else I’d stop right here and just eat all of it). I also distinctly remember having half stick of butter and some cheese in the fridge. Alas, that distinctive memory was a week ago, so I doubled the olive oil and skipped the butter. Don’t know if this is the cause, or if its cuz the onion I used were chopped a week ago cuz some of them started rotting. But the caramelizing onion part made them mushy.
I intended to half the recipe but forgot to half the wine. I didn’t know what beef stock smells like and was worried about my changes and the smell of the soup. Nonetheless, it was delicious. Will be making this again, with correct amount and butter and cheese.
4 cups of beef stock – $2.99
A bit under 1 cup of wine (in a mini wine bottle) – $2.50
Onion, bread and cheese are about the same. Yum.
Just made this for dinner and it was delicious! I used the mushroom broth recipe from Mollie Katzen’s Vegetable heaven – 1lb of mushrooms, pkg of dried mushrooms, garlic & thyme. So there was a nice hint of garlic and thyme to the onion soup without it being overly obvious.
I’ve got all sorts of ideas for what I’m going to try next time I make this. Thank you so much for giving me such a great jumping off point to start experimenting with French Onion soup! It has always been one of my favorite things to order in a restaurant, but I’ve never even considered making it myself.
p.s. Do not even think about skipping the Gruyere. 2 days later, soup’s even tastier than day 1. Finally brought the cheese ($6 and used half of the tiny block). Shredded and sprinkled it on top of the hot soup, and it brought the soup from yum to omg-delicious. (Total cost about $10 including cheese and makes 3 bowls, not bad).
You would not believe how many people have had terrible french onion soup! I recently graduated last spring (2010) from culinary school and french onion soup was one of the dishes on my practical. The first time I ever had this served to me correctly, I was astonished how sweet the taste of the onion was! I never liked onions before, but caramelized onions are on a different subject. When made correctly, it should taste almost as sweet as a soy sauce.
I have yet to try this recipe with a vegetarian ‘beef’ stock, so this will definitely be the first recipe I will recreate once it gets cold again in Phoenix, AZ
Made this AGAIN for dinner, with the Sally Lunn batter bread (made with less sugar, so not as sweet)…and it’s yummy wonderfulness. Don’t know why some commenters seem to think this isn’t economical. Gruyere is expensive, but I just grate and freeze it in ziplocks and a chunk will last me FOREVER…and still is much cheaper than a meat-based dish. People who don’t do wine need not shy away from the dish; just use a bit more stock or water. It’ll just lose a tad in flavor.
p.s. I sprinkle a bit of thyme on mine, right at the end, for that finishing touch!
Some beef bouillon cubes do not actually contain any animal products, especially the lower-end cheap ones and ones that are labeled “beef flavored”. They can be used in a vegetarian soup, and are less expensive that many other options. Just read the ingredients list carefully. One thing to watch out for, though, is that they do contain an awful lot of salt and completely inorganic ingredients. If using full-salt bouillon, I recommend leaving out most of the additional salt called for in the recipe and/or buying low-salt cheese to top it with.
Alright Deb, I’ve followed you for a while but I finally took the time to make this dish tonight. I could drown in that pot of deliciousness.I’m convinced you’re evil now…but the good evil :) hehe It was everything I could hope for in a French onion soup, thanks so much for sharing!
After moving in to my new apartment tomorrow, this will be the perfect dinner. Thanks :)
Hi, I’m following your website for a few months now, and I must say, I’ve abandoned all of my cookbooks and only use your recipes. All the ones I’ve tried are spectacular (apple cake, shakshuka, etc.)!!
Now, today, I’ve made this onion soup which I’ve been wanting to cook it since I stumbled upon your site. I’m from Luxembourg, a small country just on the upper border of France, so I know onion soup very well. My grandma used to cook it in a dutch oven since I can remember and it’s my absolute favourite.
So now, while I was cooking, I was remembered the sweet scent of childhood … Thank you for that! It was the best “soupe à l’oignon” I’ve ever eaten. (I hope that didn’t sound too dramatic, he he)
Regarding the recipe: I actually did it with chicken stock, which isn’t brown, but it’s what we used to make it with, it goes well with the onions. The original french onion soup is topped with Gruyère, that has more flavour than Swiss and also goes well with the onions.
Have a nice day!
Love this recipe! This is the first time I’ve made French Onion soup and it turned out great. I actually got my ingredients from Trader Joe’s, and it just so happens that they have shredded Swiss and Gruyere cheese pre-mixed. Perfect!
I just made this the other night for my boyfriend and I and— I was AMAZED! I never knew that I loved onion soup- and THIS onion soup– as much as I did! Followed the recipe to a T and will be making again soon, hopefully next time for company!!
Made this today and it is delish! I made it with my homemade chicken broth but otherwise followed the recipe. I used dry sherry and finished it with brandy. I topped it with a combination of swiss and parmesan cheeses. My husband, who is the real French Onion Soup person in our house said he actually perferred this made with the chicken broth to the traditional beef broth. Thanks for another great recipe.
We just finished eating… wonderful soup! I used vegetarian mushroom broth (made from wild mushrooms we picked and dried) and jasmine tea instead of wine – not sure if it did any good to the flavour, but it certainly did no harm.
Honestly I can never get enough of French Onion Soup and its variations.
Yummy! I loooove French onion soup more than any other soup.
I wrote my own easy-ish version as well. Bet you never thought a French Onion Soup recipe would have James Van Der Beek crying: http://bit.ly/qX1SlG
I made this the other day! I adjusted a bit by using sherry, chicken stock I had on hand and adding a few shakes of Penzey’s Chicago steak seasoning (which added a hint of smoke flavor). I definitely didn’t skimp on caramelizing the onions for a full 45 minutes… and you’re right, its so worth it! Delicious. Thank you for sharing, Deb :)
Just found this on stumbledupon and had to tell you how I will live vicariously through you for it. My boyfriend loathes onions – so this is not even an option in our house, but it is such an awesome soup that I have been craving. I need a small batch recipe!
Hi Deb! I’m throwing a French-Bistro 30th party for a friend. She really wants French onion soup (who can blame her?) but there will be 12 of us and I’m not sure the best way to make this for a crowd. Any reason I couldn’t get a big crock to float the cheese, raw onions and croutons in, top with cheese then bake and pop the whole thing on the table with a ladle?
Erin — I think that’s exactly how you should do it.
I am a nice (well sort of) Jewish girl, but when I have a cold it’s this soup I turn to, not chicken, though a lot of recipes DO call for chicken stock in this soup. But I like the beef version. I use “Minor’s” beef base, which I buy in BJ’s Warehouse–its main ingredient IS beef, which is often not the case in “bouillon” products.
I have made this recipe for years, first with Julia’s full method and in more recent years with my slow cooker. I think she’d have been fine with that–the more I’ve read about her the more I’ve seen how in producing “Mastering” she really looked at how Americans really cook.
I usually put the onions in the night before I want the soup and let them cook all night, making the house smell heavenly. And this spring I did an “April in Paris” lunch for the staff where I work. A staff member has a huge 8 quart slow cooker and I sliced (and cried over) 5 pounds of onions one evening before leaving them to slowly cook all night in the library kitchen. The next day, soup for a crowd, plus homemade breads. A big hit with the staff!
Mmm mmm mmm.
I made this TWICE a week ago. Magnificent! My roommates were clamoring for more.
I was shopping, and I wondered.
Did you know that, if you slice a cored cabbage thinly;
and substitute “cabbage” for “onion” in your recipe;
(and cook longer for fond),
You’ve got a heavenly cabbage soup.
This is the fourth recipe this week that I’ve made from your blog, and my family is actually enjoying my cooking- lol! And that’s probably because I am enjoying cooking for a very rare change. I feel like I’ve got a friend in the kitchen with me now! So, I made this with vegetarian stock and the brandy and it is yummy! I’m actually going to serve it tomorrow night with the cheese topping (didn’t budget enough time for dinner tonight– made the fish tacos in a jiffy). Hopefully it’ll taste just as good. I’m not worried! Yum! Thanks!
Thanks for this lovely recipe, I really loved it.
Here in Coronado Casa Merlot Panama RePublic of Panama, is winter season now.
French Onion Soup is one of my favorte winter recipe. I complelted my diner with Eggplant Pepine Sandwichi and Red Glass of Wine.. This was a Super Hit.
I have photos .. Buen Apetito!!Salud!!
Thanks again for the recipe deb! Here’s mine with pumpernickel bread: http://petitedecadence.com/2011/10/25/cry-your-eyes-out-french-onion-soup/
This recipe is amazing. i loved watching the onions caramelize..my son loved it too. This is my hubby’s fave soup. Made it for his birthday.
This is going to sound really weird, but when I’ve made this soup or similar soups that beg for a rich beefy flavor, but I’ve only had chicken broth or lack-luster beef broth to work with, here’s what I do: I add a tiny amount (1/2-1 tsp each) of molasses, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce. I know! Sounds gross. But those deep dark umami flavors really punch up the flavor of the broth, and you can’t pick them out in the final product.
Five years later I went through all the comments to find Rachel’s comment about the umami substitute flavors, which I like for the fact I can’t use beef stock. This recipe is still the best! Umami substitutes + Kraken rum give it the extra heart I want from chicken stock base.
This is my favorite cooking recipe and thank you I keep coming back to it for special meals.
How am I supposed to make this if, as you say in your opening, I only have $5 to spend on dinner? That presumes alot. Onions, stock, cheese, wine and cognac? Please tell me in what country I can get all of that for $5 and I will move there right away! I couldn’t even get 1 of those things for under $5 in Canada…well maybe the onions but still…that statement presumes you already have alot of the ingredients…not a refrigerator that is “almost bare.” Ohhhh, you must mean rich people “almost bare” where you still have lots of cognac, wine and fancy cheese? You should think about what you say…I’m just sayin’!
Hi Twee — The $5 is the cost of the portion of the ingredients you’d be using — the spoonfuls of Cognac, not the whole bottle. Brandy, which is cheaper, can also be used (as noted in the recipe). The alcohol is also optional.
Hi! I’m planning ot make these in ramikins? Is this recipe for 6 ramikins? Also, I plan to make this for a dinner party after work…is it okay if I do all the caramelizing and simmering the night before and warm in oven the night of? Thanks for the recipe!
Most ramekins hold 1/2 to 2/3 cup of liquid — you’ll need many, many for this soup recipe.
This was the best onion soup so far! I ran out of white wine, therefore I replace part of the white wine with sherry. It is still very delicious. Thanks or sharing the great photos and the recipe.
I now understand why I’m the 359th person to comment on this recipe, wowza’s! Its just what I needed on this cold and wet winters day, thank you.
This soup is amazing! Made it exactly as you wrote and wow – Absolutely devine :)
I made this tonight for dinner. I substituted red wine for the white (it was what I had already open) and used the brandy. It was FANTASTIC. I definitely keep this one on hand. Thanks!
Nice recipe, I make it similar to this but like to add whiskey for the cognac- slightly more smoky/rich flavor. And provolone/mozz/jack to top sourdough croutons. Can’t go wrong :)
I just made this French Onion Soup and my house smells wonderful! I am happy that I took the time to caramelize the onions. WOW. I am now enjoying a cup for lunch. Tonight, I will add the bread and cheese and I am sure we will have a wonderful dinner. Thank you for the recipe! Greetings from Amsterdam (Holland)
I made this soup a couple of days ago from a very similar recipe (ATK) and the soup turned out noticeably sweet. What might have caused it? Over carmelizing? Dry Sherry rather than Vermouth? Would love your thoughts.
Vicki — One of the not-so-pleasant secrets of French Onion Soup is that most contain quite a bit of salt. At restaurants, especially so, so if you’re trying to match it, you’ll need more than I suggest. It’s because caramelized onions have a lot of sugars in them (well, all onions do, caramelization pronounces it) so salt helps. Sherry is a bit sweeter, but I wouldn’t guess that it’s so much that it would throw the whole recipe. Hope that helps, or at least adds insight!
Oh thank you and I’ll be back at it in a couple of weeks. The other thought that occurred to me is that it could be the type of stock I used. I’ll have to taste test to see if it tastes sweet on it’s own. And, if it is just the caramelization that sweetens, what about using lemon to counteract?
Made this last night and it was fabulous just like every other SmittenKitchen recipe I’ve tried. Your Little Owl Restaurant Meatballs are killer and a family fav. and your chocolate pudding is true comfort food at my house and a regular staple. Thanks so much!
I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. The only change I made was to add about 6 cups of stock instead of the 8 listed – if I had added the whole amount I would have had far too much – but it still turned out fabulously. I filled 8 smallish ramekins and they fed 4 hungry people.
I just saw the episode of The French Chef where she makes this recipe the other day. And I was frustrated because she didn’t give the measurements on everything and I think the show was minimally edited-part way through she spills some brandy and just leaves most of it there while she continues to cook! So thank you so much for posting a streamlined version. One difference I notice though is she adds a little Worchestire and additional cognac at the end as a final “enrichment”. Have you tried this?
Katelyn — Wow, I’ve never heard of using Worcestershire (btw, every time I spell the right upon first typing I give myself a high-five; I am a dork) but I like it. It would bring out the beefy/heartiness of it. But I’d go real easy on it because, of course, you cannot un-add it if you feel the flavor is too intense.
Whoops! Google failed me on the spelling. I never spell Worcestershire right without help and apparently the first few search results I saw were similar misspellings!
Katelyn — Whoops! I hadn’t even realized you’d spelled it differently and hope I didn’t come off an applauding myself for correcting you, which would be pretty rude. I actually was delighted that for once I typed it without a squiggly red line showing up underneath it. It’s like the second time, ever. And yes, I did cheer myself. Let me know if you try it with the sauce; like I said, I think it could be delicious especially because I love the steakhouse vibe of the soup.
I think she only used a teaspoon or two in the whole pot, but it has such a distinct flavor I think it would come through.
I just tasted my version of this wonderful soup… I used feta cheese (well I am Greek ;) and gouda (because I had some too) and it’s really the most delicious soup I have ever eaten but… it had a problem with the salt!!! Too, too salty and I have only myself to blame! Thank you for a great recipe!
Just added the broth and am smelling it simmer at this very moment. The onions took what seemed like ages to brown but I can already tell the end result is going to be amazing! Thanks for this. I’m such a fan of yours!
Yum. Yum. Yum. I live in South Asia right now and my ingredient choices are limited. I’ve steered away from trying soups here because my broth/stock choices are limited to cheap bouillon cubes or making my own stock (something I don’t have enough forethought to do regularly). Tonight’s potluck theme is soups and stews, though, so I had to try something. I ended up making a quick (and weak) stock with some stew beef in the freezer and adding a little bit more flavor through two bouillon cubes. Even with the old-tasting red wine I had to use (can’t get alcohol here easily), the soup turned out DELICIOUS. I think the long caramelizing process for the onions really makes the flavors sing, even though I had to use mostly sub-par ingredients! Thanks so much for the inspiration.
This is brilliant! how many people does it serve?
I just made this last night but the stock I used was too salty (only discovered this when sitting down to eat it. Arg!) That, and the following dialogue.
Boyfriend: “This tastes weird.”
Me, tasting it: “It tastes like delicious, delicious, if salty, onion soup.”
BF: “Oh, well I guess I just don’t like onion soup then.”
Aaand I had made a double recipe. Double arg!
Do you have any suggestions for reducing the saltiness so at least I can enjoy the enormous pot I have left? Or using it as a base for another soup?
I adore your site and cook from it all the time – LOVED your mom’s chocolate chip sour cream coffee cake. Haha, actually the BF and I had a big fight about the fact that I “called” the last slice (My defense: I made it! There would be no last slice if not for me!).
Just wanted to say that I made this last night and it was fabulous. Thanks for another great recipe, Deb!
Despite the tons of comments, I still must make mine. ;) I LOVE onion soups, and this has become my go-to recipe. Seriously, we make it all the time, and I am always back on this page for this delicious recipe. Love it! Thank you so much!
Usually I love your recipes but this one did not turn out :(
I followed the recipe to the letter and…
-the flour made it too mucky and well, floury
-there were not enough onions and too much broth
-the onions took over an hour to brown and they started breaking down so I had to pull them off before they got to a really nice golden brown.
Not sure where I went wrong…I researched some other recipes which used 2lbs onions and 32 oz. broth…maybe those proportions are better? Less flour?
For the love of soup. I have made this four times now. I am a vegetarian, so we use mushroom broth. We also are pretty loose with our onion measurements (as we love onions), and with the sugar (as we are from the south and sugar makes everything better). But from the first time (followed recipe to a tee) to the last time, LOVE this soup. My favorite thing to eat, period, by far. Last meal on Earth. And maybe a good baked potato. Thank you – you have given me a staple. And Sweet Jesus, what a staple it is.
I’ve had this bookmarked since you posted it, and I finally made it the other day. Whoa! I just want to eat it always. =) Thanks for the great recipe!
Its midnight right now and after reading this i’m having to restrain myself from going to the store to buy ingredients. i Love love love french onion soup but have never made it. This recipe looks so easy though.
I am sitting here burning my tongue on this awesome soup! Was inspired by your vidalia post to try this, even though it’s suddenly BALMY in NYC. Oh well. Still great. Have to wait for tomorrow for the full gratin treatment. In the meantime I am trying to track down whether my crate & barrel bowls are oven proof. DOH!
The only thing was that I hadn’t any white wine so I used marsala. It is a tad sweet. Next time I’ll be sure to get the wine. And I may add the worcestershire sauce that is suggested above.
I just made this for dinner and I think it might be the best thing I have ever cooked. Sooooo delicious! (+ Cheap & Easy)
I was so skeptical about the time frame. Why wait so long for the onions to caramelize? Just do it. Listen to Deb, and wait.
After a year of requests from my husband, I made this soup with some of the last of my csa onions. It was a hit! I had to reduce the final simmer to 20 minutes, or we would have been eating way too late. Has anyone tried carmelizing the onions in a crockpot while at work?
Instead of Swiss cheese, I used some smoked parmesan from Utah – wonderful!
I’ve been making this recipe for my husband since you posted it — it never gets old! Thank you!
Although I like the onion soup with just a little beef stock, I still like to make it for my friends and family the first time with just onions, butter/magarine, water and salt so that they can try it the way it was orginally made. It is amazing how little they miss the actual beef stock!
Perfect!! I can’t wait to try this amazing soup. :)
Have made this soup twice now, working on the third time. Carmelizing the onions takes the longest time! Trying it with chicken broth this time; the beef broth was awesome!
This soup was delicious, and so worth the time to caramelize the onions !
I had some red onions to use up, so I added them in with the yellow ones and it came out great.
Thank you!! Love your site :-)
Just tried this recipe today. This was my first attempt to make french onion soup. The recipe instructions were very easy to follow. It was absolutely delicious. I substituted red wine for the white wine, since I did have any on hand. It still had a great taste. We loved it!
This recipe is amazing! A perfect lunch, especially on a dreary, rainy day like today (in Wisconsin). I’ll try making it with mushroom broth this time.
In response to Nicole’s question (#38) regarding crocks, Crate and Barrel has some footed soup bowls that are also great for serving individual chicken pot pies. The cost in very reasonable.
I don’t care if it’s 35°C in Australia. I’m making this!
So so so sad! I made this last night and it turned out super bland. What did I do wrong?! I didn’t add the cognac or brandy but I did make sure to caramelize the onions for about an hour until they were brown and delicious. In fact, I could’ve taken a spoon to them alone! But once I added the beef broth (I used organic beef broth from Trader Joes) after the flour and wine it turned into a sad sad dull soup. Deb, what did I do wrong?!! Btw, I’m obsessed with your blog and every picture makes me want to eat everything in sight and become 200 pounds (but my better judgment tells me otherwise). :D
Logan — Was it seasoned well? In a soup with such few ingredients, the salt and pepper play a big part.
Any advice on adapting the directions to make this in a slow-cooker?
This is an outstanding dish. I followed your directions exactly and it was perfect. I used brandy. Yowzers, I feel like a pro. It really helps that you listed the rationale behind each step. Thanks for posting!
Waiting for Tropical Storm Sandy to hit us here in Maryland, grey, windy, a perfect night for Onion Soup. Followed your recipe and what a perfect meal in the back kitchen by the woodstove. Thanks for sharing!
I have been looking for a good French Onion Soup for years and this is the one! I ended up using Red Wine in mine since I had no White Wine and must I say it turned out amazing! I’m not sure how much it changed the flavor but I could definitely taste undercurrents of the red wine. Thank you for your amazing recipes!
I just made an adaptation of this, and it’s delicious! I’m not even a huge “soup person,” but this is great. You’ve even inspired me to blog about it…
As far as the crock pot goes, I just omitted the last 30-40 minutes simmering, and put the whole soup into the crock pot on high. It’s already delicous. Thanks!
I love french onion soup! This looks delicious : )
Love the tip on the sugar and onions!
Hi Deb – This was my first time making FOS and I panicked and then breathed a sigh of relief when it turned out okay. I did 6 cups of sliced onions and don’t think that was quite right. Did you mean 5-6 onions? Because I sure had a pitiful little pile of onions. I ended up using only 4 cups of broth because of this, as well as less flour. I got 3 crocks of soup out of the recipe. Thankfully it was just for two people, so it worked out okay. I think next time, which will be soon, I will more than double the onions so as to be able to use all 8 cups of stock. Also, this was my first time caramelizing onions and I was about an hour and 5 minutes into it and they still were not caramelized completely. I never did get the rich brown color, but the soup still tasted fantastic. I know all of the tweaks that I will make for next time, including allowing for much more time to caramelize the onions. Thanks for a great recipe though that kept my first ever attempt from being a failure!
Thank you. I’ve been around here for such a soup like this!
I’ve spent lots of time to find a FABULOUS onion soup. There are lots of them but not like yours. The only different thing, I have to use chicken stock instead of beef stock because I don’t eat beef. I wonder if it’s ok? But I will try it tonight.
My first time making french onion soup and it is delicious! While there are few ingredients, it takes a long time to make!
Quick question regarding baking for 20 minutes. Why 20 min? To melt the cheese? Wouldn’t we be better off just putting it under the broiler for a bit? Just wondering if that would help the bread not being so soggy.
Just got your cookbook today! I’m excited to explore!
homaira — You can definitely put it under the broiler too.
I’ve made this three times in the past month. I think this recipe is perfect and simple to make. Now I’m asking for onion goggles so that I can continue making it weekly!
Hi there! I am making this as we speak (working on the onions) and I wanted to say thanks. I stumbled here in a round-about fashion. I bought a turkey back in the post-Thanksgiving meats section. No knowing what to do with the thing, I looked onlone and decided to shove it in the crock pot with some spices and herbs and cook away. I got a ton of yummy shredded turkey meat and some really savory broth. I had no idea what to do with turkey broth and saw a suggestion for French onion. Lo and behold my husband (who is very lactose intolerant, cooking is a nightmare sometimes) LOVES FOS. So, I got what I needed for the recipe and here I am. My onions are taking a bit longer, not sure why. I think I maybe cut too much, or cooked them too low, or perhaps my newly seasoned cast iron isn’t quite up to snuff yet. Either way, I can’t wait to taste it!
Recipe for onion soup sounds delicious. Have a question, though: my mother used to make french onion soup, not as fancy, but delicious. She used leeks and herbs, no cheese, and most probably chicken broth from a boiled chicken (or turkey) carcass left over from Sunday dinner. (The french have a habit of never throwing away anything that can be recycled into another meal!) Is there a recipe somewhere using these ingredients? Had a friend who used to make onion soup with leeks that also used the toasted bread and cheese.
Made this for Christmas dinner and it was one of the best things we’ve eaten in months. It feels rich but not too heavy, salty but tangy and complex, and needs very little dressing up. Plus it allowed me to salvage a baguette that hardened so much that it was basically a billy club.
FYI if you’re vegetarian and don’t have mushroom stock on hand: I made my broth with a combo of good-tasting veggie bouillon (some taste more beefy than others — I’m fond of the Better Than Bouillon stuff), soy sauce, and vegan Worcestershire. I thought it was pretty great. It turns out salty, though, so I’d recommend cutting the salt in the onions to 1/4 or 1/2 tsp and adding more later if needed.
No brandy or cognac in the house (travesty) so I used some rum instead and it worked beautifully. Chopped fresh thyme on top, as other commenters have noted, is a great addition.
I made this tonight for dinner, and oooooh my goodness. So delicious. Thanks for the recipe!
Love this! It’s so easy & the perfect cure for the winter blues, blahs, and ughs.
Hey, not a huge fan of onions- love flavor and smell but not texture- but my sister loves FOS and so I decided to try this recipe anyway since she had had a lousy day. Turned out awesome and delicious. I used “better than beef bullion,” red wine, skipped the cognac/brandy and halved the salt. Panara sourdough french bread plus sharp cheddar cabot cheese toasted on top complimented the soup nicely! I think I found a new great soup.
Made this today for 14 people. Came out amazing. it is true you should not skip the first stage of glazing the onions, it gives the whole soup its deep taste. I alos highly recommend not to skip the brendy, it give sa twist and an excelent taste.
The whole family praisded the soup – excllent one
I made this the day after Christmas with my new dutch oven and served it in my new ramekins and torched the suckers with my new culinary torch! It was the perfect dish to use all of my new Christmas gifts :) It was a very successful operation! I used red wine instead of white, since I usually use white wine with chicken based dishes. I also added in a few cloves of chopped garlic. Your recipe was very easily to follow and thorough! To top, I got some apple wood smoked gruyere cheese and added some provolone to make it extra cheesy. Perfection! My soup-hating boyfriend was obsessed with this soup.
This was my first Smitten Kitchen recipe (found the site after hearing Deb on Diane Rehm and now it’s my go-to-recipe site, plus I have the cookbook). I was so glad Deb had posted the pics of how the onions needed to look after cooking; it took longer than expected, maybe older onions. I would have stopped cooking before they were the desired level of caramel. Plus toasting the bread made such a difference! Don’t skip this step is my advice. Have a tub frozen for future use.
Wow, I made this tonight and it was absolutely FABULOUS! I had never made my own french onion soup before. I had not had any for ages. Hard to stop at one bowl.
Just made this soup tonight and I am in love! Skipped the cognac due to missing ingredient, and it did just fine. I did however cook the onions for quit a bit longer to really brown them up. Great recipe!
This is my favorite SK recipe. I have onions coming out of my pores for days afterward when I make it, but I just can’t resist. So delicious and turns out exactly like the soup we had in Paris last fall at a small cafe. Thank you!!
I made this recipe this evening and I have one complaint: it takes SO LONG! This is really an all day recipe, and I’m sure it’s lovely as it is…
But by the time I added the beef stock and started simmering I was too hungry to wait. I let it simmer for 10 minutes, then skipped the rest and just put the soup with croutons and cheese under the broiler.
Cut out more than an hour…and it still tasted great.
Way behind on the commenting thread, but I saw Logan’s comment and couldn’t help respond. I’ve made this three times now (and am currently making it with homemade broth for the first time). The first time I used Whole Foods beef broth, the second I used bouillon cubes, and the third Trader Joe’s organic broth. It came out great, except when I used the Trader Joe’s broth, which tasted a bit too much like soy sauce and wiped out all of the other flavors in the soup. Might help explain Logan’s bad experience.
Delicious! I don’t know how I missed this recipe previously. I’m embarrassed to tell you what beef broth I used, but it turned out great.
A couple of years ago I started making a recipe from another blog. I know what blog, but I can’t remember what recipe. I scrapped it half way through and made a soup that was caramelized onions and mushrooms with the wine and, I think, chicken broth. It was delicious. I have some mushrooms and may saute them and add to meager leftovers of this soup.
Made this soup yesterday, but garnished and baked it today for lunch. It turned out very flavorful and well presented! I will definitely make it again and again. Thank you!
I made your soup tonight- delicious! Thank you so much for posting this :-D
Everything looks very yummy.I love it, I will try to make it this week.
I made this for my new boyfriend and he practically proposed. I had no idea French onion soup was one of his favorite foods (clearly we’re meant for each other) and he said that it’s the best he’s ever had. He has now challenged his uncle who went the the CIA on my behalf to a French onion soup -off. Thank you so much for all the amazing recipes, but especially for this one! (And the Blood Orange Olive Oil cake; that’s what was for dessert.)
I noticed you use a dutch oven for all of your soup recipes. I’ve always made soup in a stock pot (that’s all I’ve ever used the stock pot for), so I have three questions: 1-does the soup come out better in a dutch oven? What’s the difference? and 2-I have a minuscule kitchen with very little storage space for pots and pans. We’ve been thinking about getting a dutch oven for making chicken, but I’m worried about the space it would take up. Would you ditch the stock pot if you had a dutch oven? Our oven/range is also small (very small), so I’m also wondering about it supporting the weight and size.
Em — I use a Dutch oven because it’s my biggest pot that’s easy to use but you can use whatever you always have; I don’t think there is right and wrong in cookware. I do love it, though. It’s very heavy and distributes heat evenly. Things never scorch in there. When the soup is done, I put the lid on, turn the stove off, and it keeps it hot for at least an hour. I also use it in the oven for roasting and braises. I wouldn’t ditch a stock pot, however. An 7- to 8-quart Dutch oven is a beast, very heavy, and not the most useful thing for day-to-day cooking (my white one is 5 quarts, what I consider the ideal size for weekday cooking to make 4 to 6 servings of stews and roasts, up to 8 of soup), so it seems safer to keep a stock pot for bigger projects. In fact, I was thinking about investing in one too, one that was taller than it is wide as my stove is not full-size. Hope that helps.
My daughter and I just cooked 15 pounds of pulled pork in 2 crockpots and had tons of wonderful pork broth which we defatted. We made your onion soup recipe and it’s delicious. Don’t be afraid of using other broths instead of beef and chicken.
I just made this tonight and it was awesome. Thank you for the detailed instructions and helpful pictures.
I made this last night. It was an epic win for the Tucker Kitchen. I don’t think I will be ordering F.O.S. at my favorite neighborhood bistro anymore, when I can make it at home. Thank you Deb. I just bought your cook book. I am reading it like a novel.
Another winner!! This is a favourite restaurant order of mine that I have been dying to try at home. I didn’t have wine or cognac handy and it was still delicious. Next time, I am making a double-batch :) Thank you, Deb!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this wonderful soup! Perfect one for such a cold evening.
The brilliance of this soup, I realized, is in this suggestion: not only is it an amazing soup the night of, but if you leave some of the onion soup for leftovers (without the bread/cheese), you can make a single bowl of it for yourself in the toaster oven for lunch the net day (no need to preheat the whole oven for one bowl). The BEST leftovers! Thanks as always, Deb!
Love the site and your recipes, but this one is exceptionally wonderful.
This is so, so good and the house smells amazing on a cold, winter day.
The Soup Fairy just took a batch of this to a sick friend, certain something like this has medicinal qualities and must be a cure for the chemo blues. I had some breakfast steaks here, so to make a heartier lunch, I used the finished soup and some red wine to make a pan sauce for the steak, then topped the sammich with the soup/wine reduction and Swiss-Gruyere cheese. Broiled the whole thing, steak and all, until it was ooey-gooey on the bread, put some fresh spinach in the middle and had a steak onion soup sandwich.
All I can say is WOW and thanks!
While I have never really cared for French Onion soup, my husband is a big fan and requested it. I followed the recipe exactly, but used mushroom broth and excluded the cognac (didn’t have any). I must say, it was quite delicious. Thanks for the delicious recipe, Deb!
My first time making FOS. I started out with a recipe that caramelized in the oven. It also called for Brandy and dry red wine. I decided I didn’t want to do it in the oven, so I settled on your recipe after looking at many others including Julia’s. Your pictures and directions won me over even though I didn’t have dry white wine or cognac, so I went with what I had, sherry and brandy. Also, I used 1 qt beef broth and 1qt chicken broth, since that is what I had on hand and what the other recipe called for. All in al,l my sis and I were very pleased with the end result. It took 4 hours start to finish, but the recipe was easy to follow and everything went off without a hitch. Tomorrow when we warm up those bowls and add the cheese and baguette slices, I know it will taste even better. Thanks for the great recipe and pictures to help and encourage me to make this delicious French Onion Soup.
Made this on Friday (for Valentines Day!) and it was superb! I caramelized the onions in my slow cooker while at work (on low for 10 hours. 8 could probably work, too), transferred to a large pot when I got home, and finished with Deb’s recipe from the “add flour” stage….WOW DELICIOUS!
I’ve posted about this soup before but wanted to share something. The last two times I’ve made this it was with sweet onions as that was what my husband found on sale. I would definitely recommend yellow or white onions; the sweet just don’t have the punch of flavor the others have and it seems as if they cook down to more of a mush while carmalizing. Still pretty darn good.
My first time making onion soup! You made me look like a hero, Deb — Thank you! Thought we could eat leftovers for lunches, but alas, the pot didn’t last 24 hours….
It’s been almost 3 yrs since I first made the soup from this recipe. I hated French Onion soup before this, and Smitten Kitchen was the thing that saved the VeryMuchNotACook me from a life of junk food right after college (and motivated me to take natural light photographs for my beauty blog, but that’s an aside). I am a slightly better cook now (less burnt food at least, no comment on taste) and this recipe is the only thing that can make me spend 2hrs, willingly, in the kitchen.
Anyways, just made it again today and want to say thank you. =)
I just had to comment because I’m making this almost exactly three years after you posted it. Must be something about this time of year!!
I don’t understand the people who write you to quibble about the cost. Eating good food, even good onion soup, is an expensive endeavor. I have made this version of french onion soup many times and enjoyed it each time. Sometimes I add the alcohol, sometimes I leave it out. It still has a great flavor. I also recommend Rachel Ray’s Stock in a Box for this recipe — it really take it to the edge of restaurant quality.
Looks super delicious :-)
The best French Onion Soup recipe, I’m cooking it for the second time today!!!
omg you’ve got to be kidding me! crowd pleaser! so easy! so cheap! cognac was amazing!!!! LOVE.
This is my go-to recipe to impress, it takes a while but it’s so worth it. Probably my sixth try at the recipe is currently simmering on the stove!
Over my attempts, I’ve learned several things:
– if the onions look really watery after sweating them, turn up the heat (don’t be afraid!) and let the heat suck out the water.
– when it’s dry, turn it down – I find medium or just above is a good temperature for smooth-top stoves
– for a non-alcoholic substitute, I’ve used sparkling grape juice, sparking apple juice, and canada dry (ginger ale). they all work fine!
– for a vegetarian substitute, I’ve used mushroom broth, works just as well!
– no substitute for good gruyere or swiss! that’s what makes it really yummy.
– instead of cutting bread into squares, just roughly tear them – the jagged edges catch the cheese much better.
Love onion soup and this is my favorite recipe!
I use dry vermouth,garlic bread and Gouda Parma.
So fun to make on a chilly night drinking a nice glass of wine!
Thanks a lot for the recipe. We dont consume wine or any alcohol at our place. Would it be OK, if I skip it ? Thanks again.
Hi Deb –
I’ve made this soup twice, but both times I’ve had difficulty getting my onions to caramelize. I’ve left them in the whole time the recipe calls for, but when I made this recipe for Christmas dinner, my onions didn’t darken or carmalize one bit – they just turned to mush after an hour. Any ideas about why this happened or how to change it? Thanks so much!
Marie — You might just want to bump up the heat ever-so-slightly. Stoves will vary in what they consider “moderately low heat” and other temperatures. It sounds like on your stove, this is a bit lower. The goal is to get them to cook very slowly, but of course no so slowly that they don’t pick up any color by the end of the hour. I bet the flavor was still good, yes?
Deb – thank you! (My new apartment has an electric stove and after years of gas stoves, I feel like I have to learn to cook all over again.) And yes – it still tasted good enough for my fiance and I to devour it.
PS I received your book as a Christmas gift this year and I am very excited!
Well Deb, there is a reason that most of my cookbooks have fallen by the way side. Your recipes prove delicious again and again. This recipe was perfect just as it is written. I did used the gruyere, as I also believe it is the best type of cheese with onion soup. Thanks!
Hi! I tried the recipe today, well, I’m trying it right now. I suspect if I followed the directions it’ll go well.
But I don’t see a lot of information about the croutons. They just sort of appeared. Maybe a link would be helpful :)
I’m not sure I follow — can you tell me more about what you’re looking for? The ingredient lists calls for 12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard and the directions walk you through how to plop them in the bowls, butter and cheese them, bake then broil them — near the end.
Oh my gosh, this was so good. I was googling French onion soup recipes and ended up on your site (after rejecting a couple of others) for the first time.
Toronto will feel like -40 tonight, which I cannot quite comprehend, and while I had this soup for dinner last night, I am looking forward to a repeat this evening.
Love your site! :) Definitely sharing this
My husband has made a variety of french onion soup recipes over the last year that have been good, but not great. Ms. Julia Child’s french onion soup recipe was attempted twice in the last week and it is a winner, hands-down. YUM!
They had Vidalia onions for 99 cents today at the supermarket! It smells so good in here on this drizzly, dreary Lowcountry day. Thanks for resharing
Another option to top onion soup is using puff pastry dough. You put the cheese in the soup, stretch defrosted dough on the soup bowls, brush a bit of egg on top to make it look better and put in the oven.
It is AMAZING
If your budget and energy levels stretch that far, I highly recommend using shallots, they’re gorgeous! Also, I haven’t done the grainee before, but I will definitely try it next time. Also gruyere, oh gruyere, is so perfect for this soup. The best version we ever made was the serendipity of finding an onion sourdough at the market the day we wanted to make this. Wow!
Went apple picking. “What do I do with all these apples?” Put them in this soup. Applause.
SO awesome, so good and so easy! I used dried mushrooms steeped overnight in whey, then used that liquid to create a mushroom broth (with thyme, onions, garlic, and more). I didnt quite have enough broth so I used some plain whey. Wow! So satisfying. Thank you!
So good! Don’t drink so I used apple cider and have celiac so used gf Rosemary focaccia and it was amazing. Tons of leftovers… Would you freeze them or reuse them? would dumping it in a crockpot with chicken be crazy?
Leftovers — You could either freeze or reuse.
Hi Deb! I was the one who asked about croutons earlier (last year). I am not sure why I thought there weren’t directions on the croutons, since I poured over the recipe. but I can see on the page that there are directions. Maybe I had printed off an incomplete recipe? Not sure.
Anyway I’m very grateful for the response to my mistaken question. I’m off to make this again!! (nine months later, second occasion, making a bigger batch for friends.)
I love making onion soup, and this was the best I ever made! But if I don’t stop tasting it while it cools, I won’t have any to serve for dinner tonight! Happy Thanksgiving, Deb!
I plan on making this soup for a ‘celebration’ luncheon for a friend who just returned from a trip to France. Rather than wait to make it the day before our luncheon, would it work to caramelize the onions ahead of time and freeze them until needed, or will it change the texture of the soup? (BTW, this is also ‘what’s for dinner’ tonight!)
Awesome. Incredible deliciousness. I made it yesterday through adding the stock and wine, then had to refrigerate it until lunchtime today at which point I simmered it for about 45 minutes. My onions took about 45 minutes to fully caramelize, not a biggie, just a bit longer. I added a bay leaf and a teaspoon of thyme, also a teaspoon of Better than Bouillon Beef when I simmered. Rivaled the best restaurant version I’ve ever had. So excited to have it in my wheelhouse. Thank you.
I made this today during our first blizzard of spring! Not only did we all love it, I was able to bring a bowl to our elderly neighbor and feed the young man whose car got stuck on our street. 2 feet of snow is no match for a bowl of this deliciousness. I don’t have a ton of crocks so I made one crock and put the rest under the broiler after the bread was put in and soaked for ten minutes. It was absolutely lovely still. Thank you, Deb, for always coming through with the best version of the things I crave.
Hello! I’m making these this week, and I don’t have any oven proof bowls. Any ideas for how you would go about the finishing step at the end without being able to use the oven? Should I just stir some cheese into the hot soup and float a crouton on top of each one? Or could I do a giant gratinee on the whole dutch oven and then portion out the cheesy croutons individually?
Lizzie — Either what you suggested, a giant gratinee in the Dutch oven, or you can make a tray of cheese toasts under the broiler. Just spray the pan (ideally foil-lined) first with oil and they should lift off pretty well so they can be transferred to the soup.
I love this recipe and make it somewhat regularly during the cooler months.
The only issue I have with these directions is the use of foil on baking surfaces. It’s so wasteful and unnecessary.
I’ll also add that I use homemade mushroom stock instead of a meat stock, and it turns out very well.
You have completely ruined me for restaurant onion soup. Can I make this ahead? I’m thinking I’d like to make it in the morning when it’s cool, let it hang out in the fridge a day or two, then finish it and serve a couple of days later. I’m thinking there’s no reason it won’t work, but I wanted to check with you and see what you thought. Thanks!
I just made it this week, and made all of it up until just before adding the cognac, and then when it was ready to serve I heated it back up, added the cognac, and then assembled the bowls for the oven. Worked like a charm.
I’ve just prepared this today, sooooo extremely good!!! Thank you very much, this was the best one I’ve ever made!
I make this all the time. The recipe up until the broth is added freezes really well and makes this a quick weeknight dinner. I usually leave out the flour and use bone stock, and the thickness of the soup is just fine. My small kids love it too.
I forgot to say–I always make in a casserole dish and serve family style. Easier cleanup.
Thanks for this recipe. I like all your specific notes and details.
Made this for dinner tonight with vegetable stock. It was outstanding!! Onions took twice the time to carmelize but that’s okay, it was well worth it. I had been looking for a recipe that didn’t require beef broth (I don’t eat beef) and this was just as rich and yummy. It’s the cognac!!
Perfect rainy day soup. Makes the hose smell sooooo good.
This soup tasted really good, and even better the next day when it sorta thickened. Congratulations Deb, this was the first recipe of yours I tried after stalking your website for 3 years ! Yay !
I only had one problem with this. It wasn’t deep brown, it was light brown. I was bummed out about it. I don’t know if it was because I used beef stock cubes in water and the water looked light brown or if I didn’t brown the onions. I made them sweat for almost an hour though, I think I should have almost burnt them (maybe? I have no idea let’s be honest here). In any case, that was my only issue (with the fact it was time-consuming but worth it) with an otherwise perfect recipe !
I also had this issue and hope it tastes good still! I tried caramelizing for 55-60 mins, maybe should have doubled the time.
I made it yesterday. It took twice as long as recipe called for to actually caramelize the onions. But it was totally worth the wait. Soup was then a deep caramel brown. Then after simmering for 40 minutes it had reduced a bit to a thick, delicious soup. I will definitely make it again. And again.
I’m making this french onion soup tomorrow! I have a bunch of red onions that I plan to use instead of white. That is my ONLY substitution. Question: How many servings in this recipe? I suspect it is totally dependent on the size of my bowls…
I made this!! First SK recipe ever and it was a smashing success. Looking forward to leftovers all week long :)
I realize this is an older thread, still thought I’d try asking: Regarding this recipe would apple cider be an acceptable wine substitution? I cannot cook with wine.
I know this post is really old now, but just made this for the first time and had to comment. Amazing recipe! Not too salty, lots of rich flavor. I used an enameled dutch ovem and the onions took about 45 minutes to caramelize. The cognac is a must. :)
My husband described this soup as luxurious and I completely agree. I have ordered French onion soup in restaurants since I was a kid but never thought to make it myself. So perfect for a cold, winter night. Thank you!
Hi Deb! With 60mph wind gusts on the East Coast today, I think this is a PERFECT Friday for this soup!
As I look at the recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I notice Julia has a “de Luxe” variation wherein she finishes — after the gratinee — by beating cornstarch, egg yolk, Worcestershire, and additional cognac together then slowly streaming in 3 ladlefuls of hot soup. She then lifts the “lid” of the gratinee and stirs the mixture back into the soup. Have you ever tried this?? I’ve done some googling and really can’t find a version of this recipe (based on hers) where this final step (which she says adds a “final fillip” — had to look that word up) is included. Though it’s a finicky step and would make your version decidedly less simple, I’m wondering if it takes it from “weepingly delicious” to truly transcendent?? Have you ever tried this last step?
I don’t know how I missed that Luxe variation, it sounds heavenly. Did you do it?
I didn’t! Midway through the soup, I discovered that my oven was broken and spent the next hour weeping/strategizing a gratinee in the toaster oven. The gratinee worked well enough, but I didn’t have it in me to bother with the last step at that point. NEXT TIME. And I will report back.
I will add, though, that I ended up making it with (homemade) chicken stock rather than beef and it was still wonnnnnnderful!!! I don’t generally keep beef stock on hand, so it’s bonus to know that with a great stock base, it doesn’t have to be beef!
Hi Deb, I just made caramelized onions the other day in my new Instant Pot and swooned over the ease! I immediately thought of this recipe that I love so much. Any chance you’ve tried it in the IP?
I haven’t but thanks for the suggestion — I absolutely will try to rework it for the IP soon.
I made this earlier this week for a dinner party, and just had some of the leftovers for lunch. SO VERY GOOD.
I got a little worried at the end before adding the cognac that the soup was too salty (a consequence, I think, of using Better Than Bouillon for the the beef stock), but I added an extra cup of water and the cognac and it all came together perfectly.
It’s just the perfect balance of concentrated and sweet and intense and rich…I’ve never made french onion soup before, but I’ll definitely be making this one again soon.
The cleanliness of your cooker top makes me weep! Love this recipe though so you are forgiven :)
I have NEVER made beef stock. The reason I have never made French Onion Soup. How do you make your beef broth?
I made this tonight, and it was divine. A word of caution though. I initially used my enameled Dutch oven. After an hour the onions were still white (very soft, and silky, but not caramelizing). I googled around and discovered onions don’t brown well in an enameled cast iron. I switched to a regular cast iron and they browned up in 10 minutes. I then returned everything to the Dutch oven to finish. Delicious!
I used enameled cast iron and my onions turned a deep beautiful brown color.
I made this tonight. So delicious! Thanks Deb
Thanks for the suggestion of mushroom stock. I didn’t have beef stock on hand so used turkey stock (fozen from Thanksgiving) and added 2 cups of liquid from rehydrating dried porcinis and it was delicious!
Mmmm, this is my go-to French Onion Soup recipe and it never disappoints. Our veggie broth includes green chile skins so the soup is always spicy and that makes it extra awesome in my opinion.
No joke about stirring frequently during the long onion-cooking phase, I accidentally burnt it a little this time and had to pick out the charred onions but it still came out great.
It’s 8 degrees outside and my husband decided today was the day to make Onion Soup (which our children have never had). Beef broth from scratch and everything. Turned out very nicely.
I made this with ham stock that I made from our Christmas ham. It was delicious!
I made this and it was delicious! I used my mum’s tip of adding a teaspoon of gravy browning (is that just a british product?) to get a really rich rich brown colour.
I was 16 the first time I saw onion soup in a recipe book. It was one with wonderful step by step pictures (way before the internet, this was rare) and it was very clear on the fact that the onions must be mahogany brown before you do anything else.
It’s still one of my favorite soups and I’ve made it my own since then. Like you, I don’t like red wine in it (the original recipe I followed recommended red over white). In fact, I prefer a combo of not-too-dry sparkling apple cider and Fino Sherry to glaze the pan and then a splash of cognac at the very end.
The biggest difference between what I do and the recipe here is that I add a bouquet garni with turkish bay leaves and fresh thyme and parsley to the soup while it is simmering– discarding at the end. Is there a reason you don’t use any herbs? I use a homemade stock for mine– with bay leaves in it (no thyme though). But even so I add the herbs.
Turned out really tasty. Is not difficult but it is time consuming. Worth it though. I recently watched the original TV broadcast of Julia making French Onion Soup. In that demonstration she specifies one and one-half cups of cheese. Something must have gotten mis-heard when the recipe was written down. Unfortunately I don’t own Mastering the Art of French Cooking so can’t reference the published text
This is my third time making this which we have all loved but the first time adding brandy. With or without the brandy- delicious but the brandy is like adding cream♥️
I have made this several times with mushroom stock and my carnivore husband loves this!