French Onion Soup Recipe

The Ultimate Guide to Making French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup, a quintessential dish in French cuisine, has a rich history dating back to Roman times. Originally a humble meal for peasants, it has evolved into a beloved staple in fine dining. This soup is celebrated for its deeply caramelized onions, simmered in a hearty beef broth, and crowned with a crusty, cheese-topped bread. Its popularity lies in the comforting warmth and rich, savory flavors it offers, making it a favorite in bistros and kitchens worldwide.

The Basics of French Onion Soup

Ingredients Overview

The magic of French Onion Soup lies in its simplicity and the quality of its ingredients:

  • Onions: The star of the dish, onions are slowly caramelized to bring out their natural sweetness.
  • Beef Broth: Forms the robust base of the soup, infusing it with a deep, meaty flavor.
  • Bread: Typically a slice of crusty bread or a baguette, added to soak up the broth and provide texture.
  • Cheese: Gruyère is traditional, but variations like Swiss or Parmesan are also popular.

Each ingredient plays a crucial role in creating the soup’s iconic taste. The choice of onion, from sweet Vidalia to classic yellow, can subtly alter the flavor profile, while the cheese selection can add different levels of richness and meltability. For a deeper dive into the history and evolution of this dish, check out History of French Cuisine, which provides an insightful backdrop to this beloved soup.

Essential Kitchen Tools

To craft this culinary delight, a few key kitchen tools are essential:

  • A heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven for even caramelization of the onions.
  • A reliable cheese grater for freshly grating the topping cheese.
  • Broiling equipment, such as an oven-safe bowl or crock, to achieve the perfect melted cheese crust.

Understanding the right cheese for your soup is crucial. Visit Guide to Selecting Cheeses for tips on choosing the best cheese for your French Onion Soup.

Crafting the Perfect Soup

Step-by-Step Cooking Process

Creating the perfect bowl of French Onion Soup requires patience and attention to detail:

  1. Caramelizing the Onions: Begin by slowly cooking the onions over low heat. This process, which can take up to an hour, is crucial for developing the soup’s signature sweet and rich flavor.
  2. Preparing the Broth: Add the beef broth to the caramelized onions, bringing the mixture to a simmer. This allows the flavors to meld together harmoniously.
  3. Assembling the Soup: Ladle the onion and broth mixture into oven-safe bowls. Top each with a slice of crusty bread.
  4. Adding the Cheese: Generously sprinkle grated cheese over the bread. Gruyère is traditional, but feel free to experiment with other varieties.
  5. Broiling: Place the soup under a broiler until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, creating a deliciously melted topping.

Tips for Achieving the Perfect Flavor and Texture

  • Patience with Onions: The key to the soup’s flavor lies in properly caramelizing the onions. Resist the urge to rush this step.
  • Quality Broth: Use a rich, high-quality beef broth for the best flavor.
  • Cheese Choices: Experiment with different cheeses to find your preferred flavor and meltability.
  • Bread Selection: Choose a bread that will hold up well in the soup without becoming too soggy.

Enhancing Your Soup

Customization and Variations

French Onion Soup is versatile, allowing for various customizations to suit your taste:

  • Cheese Alternatives: While Gruyère is traditional, other cheeses like Swiss and Parmesan can add different flavors and textures. Swiss cheese offers a milder taste, while Parmesan brings a sharper, saltier note.
  • Bread Choices: The classic choice is a slice of baguette, but you can experiment with other types of rustic bread. For a crunchier texture, toast the bread lightly before adding it to the soup.
  • Preparation Methods: Consider rubbing the bread with garlic or drizzling it with olive oil for an extra flavor boost.

Pairing with Side Dishes

  • A simple green salad with a vinaigrette dressing complements the richness of the soup well. For heartier meals, pair it with a grilled steak or a roasted chicken dish.

Storage and Reheating

  • Refrigerating: Cool the soup to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge. It can be kept for up to 4 days.
  • Freezing: Freeze the soup without the bread and cheese topping. Use freezer-safe containers and store for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: Thaw overnight in the fridge if frozen. Reheat on the stove over medium heat. Add fresh bread and cheese topping before serving.


  • Can I use a different type of onion? Yes, while yellow onions are traditional, red or white onions can also be used, offering slightly different flavors.
  • Is there a vegetarian option for the broth? Absolutely. A rich vegetable broth can be substituted for beef broth for a vegetarian version.
  • How can I prevent my soup from being too salty? Use low-sodium beef broth and adjust the seasoning after the soup has simmered.
  • Can I make French Onion Soup in advance? Yes, the soup can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Add the bread and cheese topping just before serving.
  • What are some tips for getting the perfect cheese melt? Use freshly grated cheese and broil the soup just until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned for the best results.


Making French Onion Soup at home is a rewarding experience, filled with the joy of crafting a dish that warms the heart and palate. Embrace the process, experiment with ingredients, and most importantly, enjoy the delicious results of your culinary efforts.

French Onion Soup Recipe

French Onion Soup Recipe

This classic French Onion Soup recipe offers a rich and comforting taste with its combination of caramelized onions, savory beef broth, and melted Gruyère cheese atop toasted baguette slices. Perfect for cold evenings, it's a hearty dish that brings the essence of French cuisine to your table.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine French
Servings 6 Serves
Calories 400 kcal


  • Large pot or Dutch oven
  • Wooden spoon
  • Cheese grater
  • Oven-safe soup bowls (for broiling)
  • Baking sheet (for toasting bread)


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 large yellow onions thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups beef broth low sodium preferred
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 baguette sliced and toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese Swiss or Parmesan can also be used


Caramelize the Onions:

  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and caramelized, about 30-40 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic and sugar, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Make the Soup Base:

  • Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir to coat. Cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Slowly add the white wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the beef broth, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to a simmer.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Prepare the Bread and Cheese:

  • Preheat your oven's broiler.
  • Place the toasted baguette slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle generously with grated cheese.
  • Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 3-5 minutes.

Assemble and Serve:

  • Ladle the hot soup into bowls.
  • Top each bowl with a slice or two of the cheesy bread.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!


  • For a vegetarian version, substitute beef broth with a rich vegetable broth.
  • To enhance the flavor, consider adding a splash of sherry or brandy to the soup before serving.
  • If you don't have oven-safe soup bowls, you can toast the bread with cheese separately and add it on top of the soup when serving.


  • For a vegetarian version, use a rich vegetable broth instead of beef broth.
  • Adding a splash of sherry or brandy enhances the flavor.
  • If you don't have oven-safe soup bowls, toast the bread with cheese separately and add it to the soup when serving.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stove over medium heat.
Keyword French Onion Soup Recipe

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Karen Elliot

Written by Karen Elliot

Hi, I'm Karen Elliot is a food blogger who founded to make cooking easier. Growing up on a farm in Spain, Karen was inspired by exquisite dishes prepared using simple ingredients. Karen Elliot is particularly known for making anyone can cook.


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  1. 5 stars
    A secret for tearless onion cutting my wife uses is a spot of essential oil called Thieves. It works for her and keeps away the tears!

  2. 5 stars
    I never made this soup before but often order it out. I came across her video and decided to try it. It was absolutely wonderful!! My onions never did caramelize, even after two hours, but it didn’t seem to matter. The soup was sweet, delicious and not difficult to make.

  3. 5 stars
    This is the first of your recipes that I have made and WOW! Anytime French Onion Soup is on the menu, I’m ordering it and this one was just as good as any I’ve had in any restaurant. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  4. 5 stars
    I tell my girls I’m making this and I have to mute my phone as they scream for joy! I use a prepackaged/shredded swiss/gruyere mix as it makes life a little easier as a working mom. Thanks for so many great recipes!!!

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