It’s typically something most people only come across in restaurants so to present your guests with a homemade version makes any occasion extra special. It’s decadent and hardy and will take the chill off any cold winter’s night.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe:
It’s a great one for entertaining because the majority of the prep can be done in advance, leaving you with just the bread and cheese topping to broil on top. Sounds simple enough right? And I’m here to tell you it is!
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Step#1: Prep the Onions
- For this recipe, you’ll use 8 yellow onions.
- This may sound like a crazy amount of onions, but they will wilt down once cooked.
- I also find this is what makes for a great French Onion soup, lots of onions! Otherwise, it ends up being too watery.
Step#2: Cook Onions Down and Add Sherry
- Place the onions in a large stockpot and cook them down in the oil and butter until nicely wilted.
- It also helps to cover them in between stirring, to help them cook faster and become nicely wilted.
Adding the Sherry
Once the onions are very wilted you’ll add the sherry. The sherry provides a lovely sweet flavor to the onions that French onion soup is known for.
For a French onion soup without alcohol:
- Omit the sherry altogether, it will still be delicious
- Or replace the sherry with 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.
Step#3: Add the Beef Broth
The beef broth is the main base for this soup, so be sure to buy a high-quality broth. I find the organic broths seem to have the most flavor.
Adding the Seasonings:
- I like to add a bouquet of fresh thyme, tied with butchers twine, and two fresh (or dried) bay leaves.
- Toss these into the broth and as it simmers it will steep into the broth and flavor it with the most delicious flavors.
Step#4: Choosing the Right Bread and Cheese
The bread and the cheese are the crowning glories of this soup. Pick the wrong kind of bread and it will disintegrate quickly into mush under the heat of the soup and the weight of the cheese.
Pick the wrong cheese and your soup won’t have much flavor or gooeyness.
For the Bread:
- I find the best bread to use is a day-old sourdough baguette. Buy the bread a day before and then place it in the refrigerator overnight. Otherwise if left out at room temperature it will become too hard to slice
- Slice the bread into at least 1″ inch thick slices. This will also help it hold up under the weight of the cheese and heat of the soup.
- This will assure you’ll have a little bite of bread in many spoonfuls of the spoon
For the Cheese:
- For both the flavor and the gooeyness, Gruyere wins hands-down. Gruyere can be a bit pricey but I find Trader Joe’s has an affordable Gruyere/Swiss Cheese which is quite good!
- If you can’t get Gruyere you could also use regular sliced swiss cheese sold for sandwiches. And top the bread with at least 2-3 slices
- Or a third option would be White Cheddar or Mozzarella cheese. Mainly for the gooeyness, but the flavor would be pretty bland. So to amp it up a bit you could add some grated parmesan on top too.
Step#5: Broiling and Garnishing
I place at least 2 slices of bread in the soup bowl, top with lots of cheese, and then place on a sheet pan, lined with foil. This will make your pan easier to clean in case the cheese spills over and bakes into the pan.
- I also like to use soup bowls that have handles on them. It makes the soup bowl easier to take in and out of the oven.
- The lower the profile on the bowl, the better. It will allow them to get up closer to the broiling implement of your oven which you’ll need to get the cheese nice and crispy.
- Whichever bowl you use, just make sure it’s oven safe!
Then you can garnish the soup with a sprig of fresh thyme, and some freshly cracked black pepper. You’ll have a delicious hearty lunch or dinner! Or serve this soup as a starter in smaller bowls, for a holiday meal.
How To Freeze This Soup?
- To freeze, portion the soup into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 2 months.
- Re-heat in the microwave and then proceed with the bread and cheese as directed
More French Recipes!
- Coq Au Vin
- Classic French Apple Tart
- Tartiflette-The MUST make Holiday Side Dish!
- Easy Homemade Crepes
- Foolproof Madeleines
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 tbsp (15 g) of butter
- 8 medium yellow onions, sliced thinly into half moons
- 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
- 1 tsp (5 ml) sugar
- ¼ cup (60 ml) dry sherry
- 10 cups (2,500 ml) beef stock
- 4 sprigs Thyme (tied with butcher string) + 1 tbsp for garnish
- 2 Bay leaves
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- 1 day old French baguette (sourdough works well) cut into ½ inch slices
- 3 cups (300 g) Gruyere cheese
- Place olive oil and butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Add onions, salt, and sugar. Cook uncovered on medium high heat, stirring occasionally until onions turn golden brown and caramelized. 20-25 mins.
- Add sherry to onions and cook 1 min until alcohol evaporates. Add beef stock, thyme, bay leaves and garlic.
- Simmer covered for 10 mins to allow flavors to marry.
- Preheat oven to the broil setting. Ladle out soup in heat safe, shallow bowls. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet. Top each soup with 2 slices of bread, and 1/2 cup (50 g) of cheese sprinkled on top.
- Place soups under the broiler until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Garnish with fresh thyme and serve on a plate.
It's best to use day-old sourdough baguette bread (that has been refrigerated) for the bread slices. It will hold its shape better once broiled.
To make French Onion Soup without Alcohol, either omit the sherry altogether (it will still be good) or add 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar which will create a similar flavor profile for the onions.
- You can make the soup base a day before and just top it with bread and cheese and broil before serving! Makes this really easy for entertaining!
- To freeze, portion the soup into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 2 months. Re-heat in the microwave and then proceed with the bread and cheese as directed
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 222Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 518mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 11g