The king of French soups!

French Onion Soup Recipe | The King of French Soups

French Onion Soup Recipe | The King of French Soups

French onion soup could be said to be the greatest French recipe of all, and almost certainly of its soups. This particular French onion soup recipe is simple, authentic, traditional and delicious. If you like the crockery used in these photographs, you’ll find them right here! (The previous was an affiliate link to a product for which I earn a commission per purchase.)

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French Onion Soup Recipe
The melted gruyere cheese on top really finishes off this fantastic dish!

Introduction

I’d certainly heard of French onion soup before, but the very first time it was recommended to me, I dismissed it almost immediately.

I was standing behind the bar at a very prestigious restaurant and a customer asked why we never had it on the menu. I’m sure I gave him some kind of mature, grown up answer. But my initial thoughts on the mater were simple. Why would it be? It’s just onion soup.

Fortunately, as the years have gone on, I’ve learned a lot more respect for the dishes from around the world that I didn’t understand back then. At that point in time, I had a hard time getting my head around traditional dishes. I thought everything had to be a carefully constructed mish-mash of specific, but disparate ingredients. The only way I’d ever known.

What I didn’t realise was that in a simple soup like this one, I might find all of that complexity and more. But without the faff and fuss I thought food was all about.

The stock really brings depth of flavour to this French onion soup dish.

About the dish

As I said above, in my eyes French onion soup is far more than just a soup. Unlike a root vegetable soup, for example, there is far more at work here than a simple puree of well cooked ingredients. Nor is it just a simple broth with bits or chunks or anything quite so straightforward.

I’m not trying to say that it’s an over-complicated dish, but that it is one with just the right amount of love and complexity. The onions are carefully, slowly caramelised in just enough butter to make them sweet, soft and bright gold. A little touch of garlic at the end, and some flour to thicken what will become the sauce, then we move onto the liquids.

The onions are then stewed slowly in a combination of white wine and beef stock. Both impart deep and wonderful flavours that serve to balance and enrich.

Finally, once everything has stewed down and reached the perfect consistency, we add a simple crouton. One, large cut of bread, perfectly toasted for crunch and flavour. Topped with delicious, subtle gruyere cheese and baked until everything melts and crisps up. Perfect.

French onion is perhaps the most famous of all soups!
It’s all about the one, big crunchy, crispy crouton.

About this dish

My French onion soup recipe is nothing more or nothing less than a perfectly authentic, traditional take on the dish. There are no extra bells and whistles, nor any new approaches. It is simply the dish as the dish is supposed to be.

The only thing I would recommend is that you consider carefully the amount of wine you use in the dish. I used half a bottle of white wine for just two portions. But I understand that that is rather a lot. You might get a more balanced dish if you use a little less and increase the amount of stock, for example, to make up for it, or simply allow for a little less reduction time.

We will be using Gruyere cheese in this recipe, but I have known other recipes use Comte. Comte is the French of the two cheese, whereas Gruyere is Swiss. I am not sure which would really have been used in the original dish, but more recipes seem to point to Gruyere. So that’s the way we’re going to go! If you do want to use an alternative, however, they are out there, will work and could be considered perfectly in keeping with tradition.

Finally, I have used two slices of my own home made bread in this recipe. You could use a simple baguette, as would traditionally have been used in France, or you could join me in trying out my simple, homemade white bread or my delicious caraway loaf. The latter in particular brings that aniseed flavour of caraway, which perfectly highlights the sweetness of the onion.

A quick guide – French Onion Soup Recipe Overview

Preparing French Onion Soup
Preparing French Onion Soup

We’re going to start by cutting the onions lengthways. This gives them a strength and structure that will hold them together while they caramelise.

We’ll melt a little butter in the pan and add those onions, salting and stirring over the course of half an hour to forty minutes. As they cook, they will soften and darken, the fibres inside breaking down and the sugars caramelising. During the last five minutes of the cook, we’ll add a little garlic, followed by some flour. This will thicken the sauce a little as everything cooks.

Then it’s half a bottle, or perhaps a little less, if you’re more sensible than I, of white wine, straight into the pan to deglaze the burnt on bits of flavour on the bottom. We’ll reduce that all the way down and add some rich beef stock, which will reduce in turn, softening those onions further and further and creating a thick, flavoursome soup that we will season at the end to make sure we don’t overdo it.

A slice of bread on top and a good hit of grated Gruyere on top of that, then it’s into the oven to melt and to crisp up. A little black pepper later, or even some parsley, and we’re ready to serve.

Of course, the star of the show is that slowly, wonderfully caramelised onion.

A few final things to remember

  • Be generous with the butter. On a nice, low heat, that butter will turn those onions into magic. So make sure there’s enough. You don’t want them submerged and you certainly aren’t trying to deep fry them. But you need a solid coating all over to help conduct that heat all the way through as you cook them down.
  • A little salt at this stage is also very important. Salt draws out moisture and that helps them to cook smoothly and consistently.
  • You can play around a little with the quantities of stock and wine. I had a lot to use, so I used it. You might find a slightly more balanced dish if you, unsurprisingly, balance these two things however you feel best. Just remember, the onions turn very sweet and it’s the wine that helps to balance all of that out. Perhaps this dish’s greatest trait is that all of the ingredients are so perfectly harmonious.

Similar Recipes & Useful Sides

Homemade White Bread

Simple Caraway Bread

Thai Coconut, Prawn & Mushroom Soup

Creamy Potato Chowder & Sausage Meat Croquette


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French Onion Soup Recipe

French Onion Soup Recipe | The King of French Soups

French onion soup could be said to be the greatest French recipe of all, and almost certainly of its soups. This particular French onion soup recipe is simple, authentic, traditional and delicious.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine French
Servings 2 People

Ingredients
  

  • 6 White Onions
  • 50 – 100 g Butter
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp Plain Flour
  • 1/2 Btl White Wine
  • 200 ml Beef Stock extra rich, reduced a little already if necessary
  • 1 Handful Thyme
  • 2 Slices White Bread
  • 200-300 g Gruyere Cheese
  • Black Pepper
  • Salt

Instructions
 

  • Dice the 6 white onions lengthways and set aside.
  • Crush 3 cloves Garlic and set aside.
  • Melt the butter in a fairly large pan on low-medium heat, then add the sliced onion.
  • Season the onion with salt and stir frequently, cooking and caramelising for at least half an hour, or until the onion turns very soft, translucent and fairly brown in colour.
  • During the last five minutes or so, add the crushed garlic.
  • Add some flour and stir in, cooking for another five minutes.
  • Add the white wine and a bouquet garni of thyme, essentially a small handful of thyme tied together with either string or with a long, tough piece of the thyme itself.
  • Reduce it down until you have a soup of a fairly thick consistency, then add the beef stock and repeat the process.
  • Pre-heat an oven to 180c.
  • Once the soup is thick and dark, season with salt to taste and pour into 2 ovenproof bowls.
  • Cut each of your slices of bread into 2 pieces, at least one of which will be able to fit inside the top of your bowl.
  • Butter the 4 slices of bread you now have on both sides an in a hot pan, toast until golden brown.
  • Add 1 slice to the top of each bowl of soup and set 1 aside per person for the side.
  • Grate the gruyere cheese and place a healthy portion on top of the toasted bread.
  • Put the bowls into the oven until the cheese melts. Optionally, add some black pepper or even some parsley, then serve.
Keyword french, french onion, french onion soup, french onion soup recipe, french soup, french soups, onion, onion soup, soup

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