Comforting, from scratch French Onion Soup is a delicious recipe perfect for cold winter months. This soup is topped with toasted warm baguettes topped with melted Gruyere cheese. This soup gets its decadent taste from a combination of spices and caramelized onions.
You guys know I am all about easy and quick recipes, but I love to share recipes that take a little longer, like this French onion soup recipe, every once in a while.
Yes, quick is great, but have you ever had a steaming bowl of French onion soup with the toasted bread and melted cheese? It’s one of my all-time favorite soup recipes, and making it homemade is totally worth the effort.
Why This Recipe Works
- This is the best French onion soup made with rich, caramelized onions, beef broth, ooey-gooey melted cheese, and crusty bread.
- The soup takes time to make, and most of it is spent caramelizing the onions. Doing this slowly on the stove gives you soft, jammy, sweet onions that make this soup amazing!
- I’m showing you step-by-step how to make it. It’s not a hard soup to make, it just takes time, and I can promise you won’t regret it!
French onion soup is a classic dish for special occasions or weekends when you want to tackle a fun cooking project. I’m sharing all of my best tips and tricks, so it turns out perfectly every time you make it.
Your family will think you secretly attended culinary school when you serve up this cozy homemade French onion soup!
- Large onions – yellow, white, or sweet will work. Or do a combination of all three!
- Salted butter
- Baking soda – this speeds up the cooking process for the onions, so don’t omit it.
- Sliced French bread or baguette
- Cheese – We recommend thinly sliced Gruyere cheese, Munster, or Swiss cheese
- Minced garlic
- Red wine vinegar
- Spices – Dried thyme, sage, rosemary, and marjoram
- Seasonings – Salt and pepper
- Bay leaf
- Beef broth
How to Caramelize Onions
The first step for this recipe is to caramelize the onions – it’s easy, but it takes time, so be patient, and you will be rewarded with the most amazing caramelized onions.
Prep: First, peel and slice each onion in half lengthwise. Next, slice them into thin slices lengthwise. They shouldn’t be thinner than 1/8” thick.
Cook: Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, stir to coat them in the butter, and then sprinkle the baking soda over the top. As the onions cook, they will release their moisture. It will seem like nothing is happening for a while – they will stay white but cook down. This is what you want. Stir them every ten minutes or so. As they lose moisture, they will start to turn golden.
Caramelize: Once the onions lose moisture, the caramelization process will speed up. Keep an eye on the pan and if you notice they are browning to quickly, reduce the heat. If they look dry, you can add a tablespoon or so of water. Keep stirring them so the brown evenly. Once they are golden brown and soft, they are ready.
How to Make the Soup
When the onions are done, stir in the garlic and cook it with the onions for about a minute. Add the flour, sugar, thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, salt, and pepper.
Pour one cup of beef stock into the pan. Scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the broth, red wine vinegar, and bay leaf.
Bring the pot to a bowl and then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer the soup for 15 minutes uncovered.
Prepare the Bread
While the soup is simmering you can prepare the bread.
Place bread slices on a sheet pan. Place it under the broiler and toast the slices, flipping them over, so they are toasted evenly on both sides, about one minute per side. Keep an eye on them because they can burn quickly!
Assemble the Soup
Once you have all of the components ready, you can assemble and finish the French onion soup!
Ladle the soup into oven safe bowls or ramekins. Fill each about ¾ full.
Place a slice of toasted bread on top of each and then top the bread with one to two slices of cheese.
Place the soup boils under the broiler (the easiest way is to put them on a sheet pan). Broil for a couple of minutes or until the cheese has melted and turned golden in spots. Stay by the oven to check on them so the cheese doesn’t burn.
Serve the French onion soup hot from the oven.
Caramelizing: The length of time it takes to cook the ovens will depend on how big your pot is. I use a Dutch oven and it usually takes just under an hour. If you use a smaller pot or pan it can take longer. Using the baking soda will speed things up, but be sure to only add the amount in the recipe – if you use more the flavor of your soup will be altered.
Vinegar substitutes: I use red wine vinegar because it’s what I usually have on hand. You can substitute a red wine or sherry, if you prefer.
Cheese substitutes: Gruyere cheese is the traditional cheese for this soup, but you can substitute Swiss cheese or Munster cheese (or try doing a combo!).
Beef broth: I recommend using a good-quality beef broth for the best flavor. Also, depending on how much salt is in the broth you may need to adjust the added salt to suit your taste. Try the soup before you assemble the bowls and add any extra salt then.
Caramelize the onions ahead! You can do this step a day ahead and keep the cooked onions in the refrigerator. Store them in an airtight container in some beef broth (just enough to keep them moist). The next day, make the soup and assemble.
Leftovers: If you don’t plan to eat all of the soup in one sitting, save the extra soup in a container and wait to add the bread and cheese until you are ready to serve it.
I remember the first time I made French onion soup for the family – they couldn’t believe how good it was. They thought I ordered it from a restaurant!
This is such a fun recipe to make – especially for dinner parties or other special occasions. It always gets rave reviews! I hope you give it a try; I think you will love it.
More Cozy Soup Recipes!
- Beef Noodle Soup is an easy recipe you can make in your crockpot! It’s loaded with veggies and beef for a hearty meal.
- The best way to warm up when it’s cold is to make a batch of Wild Rice Soup. Serve it with crusty bread for a delicious dinner.
- Cheesy Bacon Potato Soup is perfect for potlucks or big family dinners when you want something cozy and comforting. It’s one of our favorite cold-weather dinners.
Tried this recipe? Be sure to comment below, I definitely want to hear from you!!!
And if you’re like me and snap photos be sure to tag me on Instagram @julieseatsandtreats or #julieseatsandtreats that way I’m sure to see your beautiful French onion soup!!!
- 3 large onions yellow, white, sweet or a combination
- 4 Tbsp salted butter
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1 loaf French bread or baguette
- 8 oz Muenster Swiss or Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced or shredded
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 Tbsp flour
- ½ tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar or more to taste
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried sage
- ½ tsp dried rosemary
- ½ tsp dried marjoram
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp Pepper
- 1 Bay leaf
- 7 c. beef broth
- Peel and cut the onions in half lengthwise, then into thin slices, lengthwise (No thinner than 1/8 inch thick).
- Put the butter in a dutch oven or pot and start to melt it over medium heat.
- Put the onions in the pan, stir them up with the butter, and sprinkle the baking soda over the top. (This is to help with the caramelization process. Don’t use more than this).
- Let the onions cook for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, about every 10 minutes. Cut any large pieces smaller and cook until tender. (If the onions look like they might burn, turn the heat down and add a couple tablespoons of water, then continue). The onions should be reduced, soft, and golden brown. You may need to stir more frequently towards the end of the caramelization process so that they bottom doesn’t burn.
- Cut the French bread or baguette into 1½-inch slices, prepare the cheese, and mince the garlic. Set aside.
- Mix the flour with the sugar, ,
- Once the onions are browned and all are very soft, stir in the minced garlic and sauté with the onions for about a minute, stirring constantly.
- Stir the flour, thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, salt, and pepper mixture into the onions.
- Pour a cup of beef broth over the onions, scraping up the browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pan.
- Add the rest of the beef broth, sugar, red wine vinegar, and the bay leaf.
- Bring soup to a boil. Once boiling, turn down heat and simmer on low, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put the bread or baguette slices under the broiler, in the top 1/3rd of the oven, for about a minute on each side, until well-toasted on each side.
- When the soup is done simmering, remove the bay leaf, and adjust the seasonings to taste.
- Ladle the soup into each bowl or ramekin until each bowl is 3/4ths full.
- Place a piece of toasted French bread or baguette on top of the soup.
- Sprinkle the bread generously with shredded cheese or 1-2 slices of cheese per bowl, and place the bowls under the broiler. Broil until the cheese is golden brown, one or two minutes, watching carefully so it doesn’t burn.
- Serve immediately.