The Best French Onion Soup Ever
Nov 10, 2021, Updated Nov 17, 2023
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The Best French Onion Soup Ever – easy and delicious french onion soup with a cheesy crouton on top – just like your favorite restaurant, but a million times better for a family-pleasing classic!
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Easy Homemade French Onion Soup
This recipe for french onion soup is one of my all-time favorite comfort food soups.
There is something about French Onion Soup that makes me smile – it is rich, buttery, and a tiny bit sweet – all topped with melty gooey cheese and a slightly crunchy piece of bread.
It’s rich, salty, full of sweet and salty onion flavor – and the cheese and bread on top are heavenly.
I never really put in the time making French Onion Soup at home – I made Alton Brown’s recipe once in college and remembered I really liked it, but when I went back to make it again recently I didn’t have all the ingredients he called for – so I decided to make some tweaks and come up with my own spin off his Good Eats classic.
I was really inspired by a recent trip we took over Christmas to Western Germany, which included a day trip to Strasbourg France.
Strasbourg is such a lovely city full of both German and French architecture (thanks in part to the tumultuous history of the Alsace region, as it was controlled by France and Germany in the past) – and while Strasbourg gives those visiting France some delicious German offerings, we’d been dining on schnitzel and spaetzle for a week already, and went straight for the French food during our visit, including having some delicious onion soup!
To see more about Strasbourg, please check out my post full of pictures – A Christmas Day Trip to Strasbourg France.
You can also find one of my favorite Alsatian inspired recipes – Alsace Choucroute Garnie (Braised Pork Meat Pot) here!
I was dying to recreate some of our meal at home – and I knew French Onion Soup would be a great dish to start off with.
This soup is so easy to make – and so delicious!
It is bursting with flavor, and requires very little skill (just a bit of patience!).
This French Onion Soup is perfect for dinner parties or romantic evenings since you can make most of it ahead of time, and simply pop it into the oven to broil the cheese when you’re ready to eat!
How to Make French Onion Soup
To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- Butter (4 tbsp): Butter is used to sauté the sliced onions, adding richness and flavor to the soup.
- Onions (4 large yellow): Onions are the star of the show, providing sweetness and depth of flavor when caramelized.
- Red Wine or Apple Cider (1/2 cup): This liquid is used to deglaze the pan after caramelizing the onions, adding complexity to the soup’s base.
- Celtic Sea Salt (2 tsp): Salt enhances the overall flavor of the soup and helps the onions release their moisture during caramelization.
- White Pepper (1 tsp): White pepper adds a gentle heat and subtle spiciness to the soup.
- Garlic Powder (2 tbsp): Garlic powder contributes a savory and aromatic flavor to the soup.
- Oregano (1 tbsp): Oregano provides an earthy and herbal note to the soup’s flavor profile.
- Thyme (1 tbsp): Thyme brings a subtle, earthy, and slightly minty flavor to the soup.
- Basil (1 tsp): Basil adds a touch of freshness and a mild, sweet aroma.
- Beef Broth (12 oz): Beef broth serves as the base of the soup, providing a rich and savory foundation.
- Gruyere Cheese (2 cups, shredded): Gruyere cheese is used for the classic cheesy topping. It melts beautifully and adds a creamy, nutty flavor.
- Slices of Thick, Slightly Stale Bread (4 slices): The bread serves as a hearty and crunchy topping for the soup when toasted with cheese.
- Start by arranging ingredients – while you can use pre-shredded cheese, we reccomend shredding fresh for best results.
- Cut onions in half, then into thin strips.
- Melt butter in pan.
- Add onions and brown.
- Let onions develop golden brown color, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
- Add wine and herbs to onions, let reduce further.
- When well reduced, add stock and bring to boil.
- Spoon into oven safe bowls.
- Add stale/crusty bread to top.
- Top with shredded gruyere.
- Bake or broil until cheese is melted and bubbling hot.
- Serve and enjoy!
Tips and Tricks for Perfect French Onion Soup
Choose the Right Onions: Use yellow onions for the classic sweet and mild flavor. You can also mix in some white or red onions for complexity.
Thinly Slice the Onions: Thinly slicing the onions ensures they caramelize evenly and develop a deep, rich flavor.
Low and Slow Caramelization: Caramelizing the onions over low to medium-low heat for at least 45 minutes to an hour will bring out their sweetness and create a flavorful base for the soup.
Deglaze the Pan: After caramelizing the onions, deglaze the pan with a splash of wine or broth. This step helps scrape up any flavorful bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Choose the Right Broth: High-quality beef broth or a combination of beef and chicken broth can elevate the flavor of your soup. Homemade broth is fantastic if you have it.
Add Fresh Herbs: Fresh thyme and bay leaves add depth and fragrance to the soup. Tie them into a bundle with kitchen twine for easy removal before serving.
Use Good Quality Bread: A crusty baguette or French bread is ideal for topping French Onion Soup. Toast the slices before adding them to the soup for extra crunch.
Select the Right Cheese: Gruyère cheese or Swiss cheese is traditional for the cheesy topping. Their meltability and nutty flavor are perfect for this dish.
Oven-Safe Bowls: Use oven-safe soup bowls or crocks to melt the cheese on top. It makes for a beautiful presentation.
Broil to Perfection: Place the soup bowls on a baking sheet and broil them in the oven until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Keep a close eye to avoid burning.
Rest Before Serving: Let the soup rest for a few minutes after broiling to avoid burning your mouth. It’s piping hot!
Customize Your Toppings: Get creative with your toppings. Add a sprinkle of fresh parsley or chives for a burst of color and flavor.
Make It Vegetarian or Vegan: You can make a vegetarian or vegan version by using vegetable broth and plant-based cheese and butter.
Freeze Without Toppings: If you want to freeze leftovers, do so before adding the bread and cheese topping. Thaw and reheat, then add the topping when serving.
Serve with Confidence: French Onion Soup is best enjoyed hot and fresh out of the oven. Serve it with confidence, and let your guests savor every spoonful.
With these tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to making a restaurant-quality French Onion Soup that’s both comforting and delicious!
Make ahead French Onion soup. French Onion Soup isn’t just my favorite because it’s easy and so delicious – it’s also pretty easy to make a huge batch and freeze for later!
To freeze French Onion Soup, follow these tips:
- Make soup as directed until bread and cheese additions.
- Remove from heat and let cool completely.
- Portion soup into servings you’d like to serve later (ie: if you’re making this soup for one, you might want to portion out single serving sizes – if you will be making this for a dinner party, you can just keep the soup all together.)
- Ladle portioned soup into ziploc freezer bags.
- Lay bags flat on a baking sheet and place in freezer until set – about 4-5 hours.
- One soup bags are set (so they have a long, thin shape instead of a big ball, which will thaw unevenly), you can move them off the baking sheet and around the freezer wherever you have room.
- To reheat, let soup thaw fully in refrigerator OR place frozen soup in a large pot with 2-3 cups beef stock and bring to a slow boil.
- Have a couple cups of stock on hand just in case you need to thin the soup a bit – I tend to lose some liquid when freezing and reheating so adding some liquid back helps a lot!
- Continue with steps below to add crouton and cheese and serve.
Make ahead of time. French onion soup is a perfect dinner party dish – because you can do most of the work ahead of time, so when your guests arrive, you’re ready for a delicious, hearty, and amazing dish that everyone will leave raving about. (And wonder how you were able to pull off so effortlessly!)
- Make soup as directed below, but do not add bread or cheese.
- Soup can be frozen at this point (without bread and cheese) and reheated for later – or stored in a refrigerator in a sealed container.
- The day of the party, arrange oven safe bowls of soup on a tray, cover with plastic wrap, and store in refrigerator.
- Cut circles out of a hearty french bread or other bread you love that will roughly match the shape of the soup bowl you’re using.
- Lightly brown the bread in the oven until crunchy.
- Shred cheese and have it easily accessible for the party.
- When guests arrive (or just before) remove plastic wrap from soup bowls and pop into oven to warm.
- When soup is warm, but not hot, add bread to tops and top the bread with cheese.
- When guests sit to dinner table, soup will be piping hot and the cheese will be melted and bubbling.
- Serve and enjoy!
French onion soup is done when onions have caramelized to deep brown and soup has boiled.
French onion soup uses beef broth, which can be swapped for vegetable stock for a vegetarian version.
For a vegan version, please use a vegan cheese that melts similarly to a mozzarella or gruyere.
Yellow onions are the most commonly used onions for making French Onion Soup. They have a mild, sweet flavor that caramelizes well. However, you can also use a combination of yellow, white, and red onions for added depth of flavor.
You can use either homemade beef broth or store-bought broth, depending on your preference and time constraints. Homemade broth can offer a richer flavor, but high-quality store-bought broth can work well too.
To achieve the deep caramelization of onions, cook them low and slow over medium to low heat. Stir occasionally and be patient; it can take around 45 minutes to an hour to achieve the desired color.
Yes, you can make French Onion Soup in advance. In fact, many people find that the flavors improve when it’s allowed to sit for a day or two in the refrigerator. Just reheat it gently on the stovetop when you’re ready to serve.
The classic cheese for topping French Onion Soup is Gruyère, but you can also use Swiss cheese or a combination of both. These cheeses melt beautifully and complement the soup’s flavors.
While a baguette is the traditional choice for the bread topping, you can use other types of bread like sourdough or ciabatta if you prefer. Just make sure it can hold up to the heat and weight of the melted cheese.
Yes, you can make vegetarian or vegan French Onion Soup by using vegetable broth instead of beef broth and substituting dairy-free cheese and butter for the traditional dairy ingredients.
French Onion Soup can be frozen, but it’s best to freeze it without the bread and cheese topping. Allow the soup to cool, then store it in an airtight container. When you’re ready to serve, thaw and reheat the soup, and add the bread and cheese before broiling.
French Onion Soup is often served as an appetizer or light meal. It pairs well with a simple green salad or a crusty baguette on the side. Some people also enjoy it with a glass of red wine.
What to Serve With French Onion Soup
French onion soup is fabulous alongside steak, ribeye roast, prime rib, lobster tail, cornish game hens, and other fabulous main dishes – but is also great alongside baked potatoes, no knead bread, buttery soft dinner rolls, and garlic butter roasted potatoes.
You can also find more of our recent side dishes here:
You can find the rest of our easy, delicious side dish recipes in our side dish index here.
The Best French Onion Soup Ever
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- 4 tbsp butter
- 4 onions, large yellow, sliced into half-moons
- 1/2 cup red wine , or 1/2 cup apple cider
- 2 tsp celtic sea salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 1 tsp basil
- 12 oz beef broth
- 2 cups gruyere cheese, shredded
- 4 slices of thick, slightly stale bread
- Add butter into skillet and melt on medium heat.
- Slowly add in onions, separating them into single slices.
- Add wine or cider and let reduce on low, without stirring.
- Add salt.
- When onions have reduced in size by half and begin to slightly brown, add spices and stir.
- Let reduce further, until dark brown (not burned).
- When onions are deep brown (about 1 hour later), add in stock.
- Let cook on low for another 30 minutes- do not let boil.
- Preheat oven to broil on high.
- Scoop soup into ramekins or oven ready crocks and top with bread and shredded cheese.
- Add into oven and broil until cheese is browned and bubbly.
- Remove from oven and top with cilantro, green onions, or red pepper flakes, if desired.
- Serve immediately.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 474Total Fat 31gSaturated Fat 18gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 86mgSodium 1987mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 3gSugar 10gProtein 17g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.