Best French Onion Soup Recipe

Lyonnaise-Style Onion Soup – Soupe l’Oignon


French Onion Soup is one of my favorite winter treats –  to be honest, I can thoroughly enjoy this soup any time of the year.  The wonderful golden onions and melted cheese are the center of this classic French onion soup recipe.

This is a classic French Onion Soup recipe.  The base of the soup is simple as it is made by caramelizing onions until they are deliciously sweet and golden brown.  For best flavor, make the soup two days in advance.  I have to admit that it does take a bit of time to make, as it takes time to properly caramelize the onions, but it is so worth the effort to break your spoon through the melted cheese to reach to reach your reward of those sweet onions!

French Onion Soup


French Onion Soup Recipe:

Best French Onion Soup Recipe

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 servings


4 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 medium yellow (brown-skin) onions or red onions (about 3 pounds), peeled and sliced thin*
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
6 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth**
1 3/4 cups low-sodium canned beef broth**
1/4 cup dry red or white wine (your choice - you could even use sherry)
2 sprigs fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon good-quality balsamic vinegar
Salt and black pepper
1 French, Italian-style, or county-style baguette bread loaf, cut on the bias into 3/4-inch slices (2 to 3 slices per serving)***
4 1/2 ounces Swiss or Gruyere cheese, sliced 1/16-inch thick
3 ounces Asiago cheese, grated

* Onions are the essence of French Onion Soup's delicate flavor.  You can use any large onion variety, but the yellow (brown-skin) onions are cheaper and actually work the best.  Some onions caramelize more quickly than others, and the standard yellow onion (brown-skin) actually contains more sugars than "sweet" onions.  Cooking them slowly will bring out the most flavors.  Learn how easy it is to make Baked Caramelized Onions (this is how I like to caramelize onions - so easy to do).

** Learn how easy it is to make homemade Chicken Stock and Beef Stock.  If possible, use only homemade stock in this French Onion Soup Recipe.  You will be delighted with the outstanding taste of this soup.

*** Slice the bread on the bias (this means on an angle, as this will give you slices with more surface area).  Depending on the size of the bread loaf and the size of your serving dishes, you will need 12 to 24 slices.  You want the whole surface of your soup covered.

Equipment needed:  6 (12-ounce onion soup bowls).  Use fairly deep, oven, and broiler safe soup bowls.



Cut off the stem and root ends of the onions, then halve then lengthwise, and peel away the dried skin.  Cut the onions into 1/4-inch slices.  It is important to have all the onion slices roughly the same size so they cook evenly.

Stove Top:  Melt butter in large soup kettle or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add sliced onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring to coat onions thoroughly with butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are reduced and syrupy and inside of pot is coated with very deep brown crust, approximately 30 to 35 minutes.

Oven:  You can also caramelize the onions in the oven.  Please check out my article on Baked Caramelized Onions.  This oven method cuts down on the cooking and stirring time required when you caramelize on your stove top.


Pot of Sliced Onions    Caramelized Onions

Stir in chicken and beef broths, wine, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf, scraping pot bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; bring to simmer.  Simmer to blend flavors, approximately 30 minutes.  Remove herbs and discard.  Stir in balsamic vinegar and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.  At this point, the soup can be cooled to room temperature and refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days.  To use, return to simmer before finishing soup with croutons and cheese.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  While the soup simmers, arrange the baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake until the bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes (watch carefully so they do not burn).  Toasting the bread slows down the process of the bread getting soggy in the hot soup. Set aside until ready to use.

When ready to serve the onion soup, adjust oven rack to upper middle position; heat the broiler.

Set onion soup bowls on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 1/2 cups soup.  Top each bowl with two (2) toasted baguette slices (do not overlap the bread) and divide Swiss cheese slices, laying them in a single layer on top of the bread.

I like to let the slices overlap the edge of the dish.  It keeps the grated cheese from falling down into the soup, and looks cool when all brown and gooey. Remember, if you can see soup beneath, then you need more cheese.

Sprinkle the top of each with about 2 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese.  Place the bowls into the oven, about 5 to 6 inches from the broiler and let broil until cheese is brown and bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Tip:  For an onion soup not to collapse, the soup bowl has to be filled to the rim with the onion soup and the bread.  The cheese layer should cover the whole surface, so it will stick to the sides and corm a crust that holds its shape and does not sink.

Remove from oven and serve immediately.  Let your guests know that the soup is really hot!

Makes 6 servings.

Source:  I have adapted this recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, January & February, 1999.

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