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Authentic French onion soup recipe

Authentic French onion soup recipe

  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Soup
  • Vegetable soup
  • Root vegetable soup
  • Onion soup
  • French onion soup

An authentic French onion soup, flavoured with cognac and vermouth and served in the pot topped with cheesy baguette slices. An incredibly tasty and warming dish to serve to a crowd on a cold blustery day!

4 people made this

IngredientsServes: 8

  • 2kg onions - peeled, halved and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 30g butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 4 tablespoons cognac
  • 250ml dry vermouth
  • 2L good quality beef stock, warmed
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 16 thin slices of baguette
  • 16 small slices Fontina cheese

MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:2hr ›Ready in:2hr30min

  1. Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add onions and stir well. Cook on low heat, covered, for 10 minutes.
  2. Remove lid, add salt and sugar and fry the onions for 30 minutes, stirring constantly. At the end of cooking the onions should be caramelised and deep golden brown.
  3. Sprinkle flour on top of onions; cook and stir for about 3 minutes.
  4. Deglaze the saucepan with cognac and vermouth, scraping up any cooked bits on base of saucepan. Add the hot beef stock and mix well. Simmer for 90 minutes, loosely covered with a lid. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Toast the baguette slices under the grill until golden brown on both sides. Lay a slice of cheese on each slice and place under the grill until cheese has melted.
  6. Lay the cheesy baguette pieces on top of the soup in the saucepan, bring to the table and serve.

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French Onion Soup

Most people think of French onion soup as “restaurant food” but it actually originated as a simple peasant dish made from onions, stale bread, and water. Modern versions of onion soup are more elevated but it’s still easy to make at home. The key is patience: the onions need to be cooked low and slow so that they sweeten and turn a rich brown color without burning.

In addition to giving the onions the proper time and attention, I use a few little tricks I picked up while working in a French restaurant, like adding a bit of sugar to enhance the sweetness of the onions, stirring a bit of flour into the onions to add body to the broth, and topping the croutons with both Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

If you don’t have ovenproof crocks for the soup, don’t worry. You can just top your soup with melty cheese toasts or serve them on the side. And if you want to get a head start, go ahead and make the broth and toasts several days ahead of time. When it’s time to eat, simply top the soup with the toasts and cheese and flash the crocks under the broiler.

Très Authentic French Onion Soup

Authentic French onion soup is hard to beat. Rich in both color, texture, and flavor, French onion soup epitomizes everything that a soup can be.

Lots of onions get cooked down until they are practically liquefied. Then, the pot gets deglazed and stock is added to make a rich, deep brown broth before topping with toasted baguette, Comté or Gruyère cheese, and broiled until bubbly.

You’ll also like: Vegetarian French Lentil Soup and Easy Tomato Orzo Soup

French onion soup, called soupe à l’oignon gratinée in French, originated centuries ago. According to competing legends, the soup was invented in 18th century France, either at the court of Louis VX or at the Palme d’Or restaurant.

Today, the soup is considered a good hangover cure in France.

The magic of French onion soup lies in the true caramelization of the onions. That’s caramelization, mind you. Not browning. There is a difference.

Browning is a protein reaction. Here, it would mean letting the onions sear on the pot bottom, gaining color that way through a Maillard reaction.

Caramelization, on the other hand, involves sugar — not protein. Here, that means a low and slow cooking down process, whereby the onions brown not because the pot singed that color on, but because the slow cooking process breaks down the natural sugars.

Onions after 45 minutes of caramelization.

Onions after deglazing the pot three times and cooking further. No stock has been added at this point. The color is from the onions alone.

Recipe Notes: Authentic French Onion Soup

Let’s talk about the all-important wine pairing. (We are channeling France, after all.) French onion soup is warm and rich, so it wants a zippy, berry-forward counterpoint to cut through the heaviness.

For a red wine, a high acidity/low alcohol red pairs perfectly, especially a nice Beaujolais, or other Gamay, according to Wine Spectator. An Italian Dolcetto or French pinot noir could also work.

White wine is especially good with French onion soup. Choose a pinot gris, Viognier, or Gewürztraminer.

Some other French onion soup recipe notes:

  • The onions are not really done until they have reduced down to the world’s most delicious sludge. See the photos above.
  • Everyone’s onions will be a little different, so I hesitate to give exact salt quantities, or specify an amount of sugar. Sugar can deepen the flavor of the onions if yours are not already naturally sweet enough from the caramelization, but can be easily overdone.

Make It Family Style!

You don’t have to buy special French onion soup crocks (or alternatively, ramekins) to make this. You can serve this French onion soup family style. Here’s how:

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Super Large Side Note / Rant / Tangent

The past couple days I’ve poured over French cookbooks (new and ridiculously old – the oldest ones were really really difficult to read. I don’t have a very good grasp of French especially since I can only read some of it. You really don’t want to hear me attempt to speak it!), and books on French history and French culinary history. Honestly, our perspective of ‘authentic foods’ from each culture has changed over the years. I mean, at what point is a food considered ‘authentic’ to the region? French onion soup probably has traveled across the continent and has had several names. I imagine that we just attribute it to France now, but how did the soup come about?

Catherine de’ Medici, daughter of Lorenzo de’ Medici (the Medici family that had a strong influence during (preceding and following) the Renaissance), married France’s King Henry II at the age of fourteen. When she moved to France, she supposedly brought chefs, jesters, and things like the fork. (I’m not sure exactly what is true. Apparently, there’s a lot of disagreement to exactly what Catherine de’ Medici brought with her to France. In my opinion, I believe she brought – or had made – specific foods/recipes. I mean, how many immigrants do you know that fully immerse themselves in another culture? Even living in Italy, I often made myself a Hamburger. And nearly every tourist I know usually makes a trip to fast food places with which they are familiar. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if Catherine de’ Medici brought some sort of culinary work with her.) My point of all this being, how French are dishes like French onion soup? And at what point does something become a traditional dish? (In the case of Catherine de’ Medici almost 500 years have passed!)

Regardless, today France’s French Onion Soup (as it’s called in America) is attributed to have its origins in France. And so, let’s leave the attribution with France itself, and let’s learn how to make this delicious soup!

The french use comte and gruyere, because they are amazing stretchy cheeses and also have a very strong flavour but I have tried it with normal cheese blends and mozzarella and they work fine too.

What makes this an authentic french onion soup is the fact that the french will usually use sherry wine and cognac to deglaze the caramelised onion and gratinated the bread on the soup, but I will be showing you an easier way to do it and I have not used cognac and sherry, just white wine, but if you wish to use them, buy all means go ahead and use them.


  • 6 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (Steve uses unsalted butter)
  • 1 cup white wine, optional
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 to 8 slices French bread
  • 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or Swiss cheese or a mixture of either with Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 Cup Courvoisier Cognac (dry Madeira or Sherry is optional if you prefer one of these)

Julia Child’s French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup has to be on the top of my list for favorite soups. This recipe by Julia Child takes a little longer than many simpler recipes, but it’s well worth the time spent. So get out your apron, and prepare to indulge in a classic French favorite.


  • 5-6 Cups Yellow Onions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, raw
  • Olive Oil, 4 Tbsp
  • French Bread, about 8 slices
  • Cogniac, 2-3 Tbsp (optional)
  • Parmesan Cheese, 4 ounces
  • Swiss Cheese, Grated, about 12 ounces
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Sage, Ground, 1/2 tsp
  • Bay Leaf, 1 leaf
  • White Wine, 1 cup
  • Beef Stock, 6 cups
  • Flour, 3 Tbsp
  • Sugar, 1/2 tsp
  • Butter, 2 Tbsp
  • Cooking Oil, 1 Tbsp

Cooking Instructions:

Heat a heavy, oven-safe, stock pot over medium-low heat and add the cooking oil once the pot is hot. Melt the butter into the hot oil. Stir the sliced onions into the oil/butter mix, ensuring they are evenly coated. Cover the stock pot and cook for around 20 minutes checking to make sure they aren’t burning. Onions should be clear and very tender once finished. Turn up the heat to medium-high, and add the sugar and 1tsp salt. Continue cooking while stirring until onions are thoroughly browned (caramelized).

Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in 3 Tbsp flour. Cook 2-3 minutes until flour forms a thick paste (add more butter if needed). Stir in 1 cup of beef stock, and stir heavily for a couple seconds.

Add the rest of the stock, wine, sage, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F. Drizzle both sides of french bread slices with olive oil, and place on a baking sheet. Cook the bread in the oven for 15 minutes on each side.

Taste soup, and add salt and pepper as needed, then remove the bay leaf.

Add cognac, and grate the 1/2 raw onion into the soup. Add a little bit of the swiss cheese to the soup, preserving most of it for the top. Cover the soup mixture with the bread, forming a single layer bread top. Sprinkle the rest of the Swiss cheese over the top of the bread, forming a thick layer. Drizzle melted butter or oil over the cheese, and place the pot into the oven uncovered. Bake for around 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Turn the broiler on and brown the cheese.

Remove pot from oven and let stand to cool. Serve up to some lucky guests and enjoy all the kudos you receive.

Authentic French Onion Soup

There’s nothing that warms the soul quite as tremendously as a piping hot bowl of buttery French Onion Soup with stringy, golden gruyere bubbling on top. Dig your spoon into generous chunks of sweet, tender onion and saturated baguette.

After being lucky enough to take two amazing trips to France, I wanted to recreate one of France’s iconic dishes in my own kitchen. Believe it or not, Authentic French Onion Soup is actually super simple, yet far more tasty than any store-bought French Onion Soup in the US.

Make a big pot for a family gathering, and they’ll be begging you for the recipe!

The Ingredients

10 Spanish onions, cut in ½ inch strips

32 ounces low sodium chicken broth

Baguette, cut in ½ inch slices

Gruyere, grated to garnish

Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated to garnish

The Steps

In a large pot, add butter and onion strips. Over medium/high heat, caramelize onions for 20-25 minutes, until onions are mahogany brown. Add cognac to deglaze. Stir. Add chicken broth. Stir again. Simmer under low heat until hot, occasionally stirring.

To serve: broil baguette slices on high until golden brown and crispy on both sides. Place 2 toasted baguette slices on bottom of broiler safe bowls. Ladle soup into bowls. Add grated gruyere until top of bowls are completely covered with cheese. Add a pinch of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Broil on high for about 5 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.

The Steps with Pictures

In a large pot, add butter and onion strips.

Over medium/high heat, caramelize onions for 20-25 minutes, until onions are mahogany brown. Add cognac to deglaze. Stir. Add chicken broth. Stir again. Simmer under low heat until hot, occasionally stirring.

To serve: broil baguette slices on high until golden brown and crispy on both sides.

Place 2 toasted baguette slices on bottom of broiler safe bowls. Ladle soup into bowls. Add grated gruyere until top of bowls are completely covered with cheese. Add a pinch of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Broil on high for about 5 minutes, until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.

French Onion Soup Recipe

If it wasn’t winter before this week, it sure is now. Not in Southern California, of course. But for the rest of the country. Although people in LA dress like it’s zero degrees when it’s 55. It’s totally funny. I cracked up when I saw this post on Pinterest last week:

So I figured that everyone would be in the mood for soup this week, no matter where you live! I had completely forgotten about this delicious French onion soup I taught two years ago, until my husband asked me to make it. My entire family, Mr. Picky included, are big soup fans and I love making it. In general, soups are easy, flexible, reheat well and a good way to consume homemade bone broth, which I am convinced is so healing, immune-boosting and good for digestion.

French onion soup is a classic, and I am not necessarily reinventing the wheel here, just sharing the way I like to make it. And isn’t that the beauty of cooking? Figuring out how to tweak recipes to your liking? I prefer an onion soup that is loaded with onions and with a rich and flavorful broth. I’ve tasted a few very lackluster onion soups and that is not this one!

The key to the broth is good stock and the proper alcohol. Yes, you can serve soup with alcohol to children since the alcohol is burned off in the simmering process. My kids have had plenty of alcohol in cooked foods and were not affected in the slightest. Brandy or vermouth plus some white wine are my favorites. I do not love this soup with red wine, personally. Another tip I can offer is using the slicing disc in your slow cooker to slice all the onions. It will take you all of 1 minute with no tears to do it this way. If you have no food processor, get out your best knife and get close (not too close) to a big open flame, like a gas burner on your stove, and slice away. The flame from the stove will burn the gases from the onions and you won’t cry. Promise!

As for the cheesy toast, I personally don’t add the traditional Gruyere toast on top to mine because I can’t eat too much dairy, but my family loves that part. My son adds toast only, I add chopped parsley, and my husband and daughters love toast + cheese. I think it makes more sense to toast the bread and melt the cheese separately in the oven than broil it in the soup bowls. The soup bowls get so incredibly hot and it’s not safe at all to serve such hot bowls to kids (or anyone.) It’s much simpler to add the melted cheese toast to the soup bowl. But you can broil it in the bowls, too. I would serve this with a meal of roasted fish and a green vegetable or just a large, hearty salad. This soup is all about comfort, warmth and total deliciousness. One bite is like a cozy blanket wrapping itself around you. What more could you need on a day like today?