Our perfected homemade French Onion Soup has the perfect balance of sweet and savory. Watch the video tutorial and see how easy it is to re-create this restaurant-quality onion soup recipe.
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French Onion Soup Video Tutorial:
We have been perfecting our French Onion Soup game for years. After trying so many different versions, this one is truly excellent. Watch our tips for making the best French Onion Soup with perfectly caramelized onions, and just the right amount of sweetness.
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What is French Onion Soup:
French Onion Soup is made of caramelized onions in a rich beef-wine broth and is served with a signature cheesy toast topping. It originated in France and just like Borscht, it is timeless and well-loved.
This onion soup is often on the menu in high-end restaurants, but it’s simple to re-create at home. Just imagine you’re in Paris as you enjoy every bite.
Ingredients for French Onion Soup
The key to making great French Onion soup is in giving the onions time to caramelize properly. Don’t rush this process but we do have a secret (just a bit of sugar) to cut down the time significantly.
- Onions – use yellow onions for the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
- Sugar – just 1/2 teaspoon helps to speed up the caramelization process.
- Garlic, bay leaf, and thyme – these aromatics, plus salt and pepper are all you need for flavor.
- Beef Stock – using beef stock or broth will give you better taste and color versus chicken or vegetable stock.
- Dry Sherry – be sure to pick a dry sherry wine so your soup doesn’t end up too sweet.
The Best Onions for Onion Soup:
- Yellow onions work best for caramelizing with the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavor. We highly recommend yellow onions.
- Sweet onions have 25% more sugar than yellow onions. If using, be sure to use extra-dry sherry
- White onions should be avoided since they taste flat when caramelized. Save them for guacamole.
- Red onions can turn blueish with lengthy cooking.
Pro Tip for Slicing Onions: Thinly slice your onions parallel with the lines on the onion (from root to stem). It will look nicer in the soup and you’ll break less of the onion cells which release the onion vapors that make you cry. This means fewer tears while cutting onions.
How to Make French Onion Soup:
- Slice Onions – peel onions and thinly slice onions.
- Soften Onions – let the onions ‘sweat’ and soften for 10 minutes.
- Caramelize Onions – Add 1/2 tsp sugar to speed up the caramelization process. Sautee over medium heat until onions have browned (40 min).
- Add Garlic and saute for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add Dry Sherry and cook down until all the wine has evaporated, scraping the bottom to deglaze the pan.
- Add beef stock along with aromatics (bay leaf and thyme), salt, and pepper. Simmer partially covered 30 minutes.
Gruyere is the classic choice because it’s mild in flavor and melts beautifully. You could substitute with swiss cheese, provolone, fontina, or a blend of mozzarella (low-moisture part-skim) and parmesan.
You can finish the soup in a slow cooker, but we recommend first caramelizing the onions and reducing the sherry wine on the stovetop through step 5. In step 6, transfer to a slow cooker, add broth and seasonings, and cook covered on low heat for 6 hours then season to taste.
Dry sherry is traditional for making French Onion Soup, but you can substitute it with a dry white wine such as vermouth. Also, keep in mind since the sherry is reduced down, you essentially cook out most of the alcohol in the recipe.
How to Serve French Onion Soup (2 Ways):
#1: If you have broiler-safe serving bowls: Toast bread slices. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle the tops with cheese, top with toasted bread then cover with more cheese and broil for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted.
#2: Broil the cheesy bread separately: If you don’t have broiler-safe bowls, you can prepare the toasts separately. Brush toasts with olive oil and bake. Ladle soup into warm bowls and sprinkle on cheese to melt. Top toasted bread with mounds of cheese and broil for 2-3 minutes. Place cheesy toasts over the hot soup bowls.
- Onion Soup – you can caramelize the onions and even make the entire soup base 3 days ahead. Once the soup is done, let it cool then cover and refrigerate until ready to reheat and serve.
- Toasts – the bread toasts can be baked ahead and stored covered at room temperature for a few days since you are essentially making croutons. Add cheese and broil just before serving.
- To Reheat – warm the soup in a saucepan until steaming hot.
Everyone needs a great French Onion Soup Recipe. The rich flavor and aroma of caramelized onions in a sherry-beef broth under a cheesy toast is irresistible.
More Soup Recipes to Try:
If you love this French Onion Soup, then you won’t want to miss these comforting, classic soup recipes.
French Onion Soup Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
This classic French Onion Soup has simple ingredients but rich flavor. Be sure to use yellow onions and dry sherry wine to ensure the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
Cost to Make:
french onion soup, onion soup recipe
Calories: 545 kcal
Servings: 6 people
plus more to brush toasts
6 large yellow onions, halved, peeled and thinly sliced with the grain
dry sherry wine
or use dry vermouth or dry white wine
beef stock or broth
sprigs fresh thyme
plus more to garnish (or 1/4 tsp dried thyme)
or to taste, divided
or to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded, divided
How to Make French Onion Soup:
Cut onions in half, cut off the ends, then peel and slice onions thinly (cut parallel with the grain of the onion).
In a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter. Add sliced onions and sauté uncovered, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle the onions with 1/2 tsp sugar which will help the onions caramelize faster. Sauté uncovered for another 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are caramelized and browned. Stir more frequently towards the end to prevent scorching or burning the onions.
Once onions are caramelized, add minced garlic and sauté another minute.
Add 1/2 cup sherry and deglaze the pot by scraping the bottom. Continue stirring until all of the sherry has cooked out (about 3 minutes over medium heat).
Add 8 cups beef stock, 1 bay leaf, thyme and 1 tsp salt. Partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Add another 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper, or season to taste then remove from heat.
How to Make Crouton Topping:
While soup is finishing up, preheat oven to 400˚F. Slice baguette to 1/2” thick slices. Brush both sides lightly with olive oil, arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes until golden brown at the edges.
Once soup is ready to serve, top breads with half of the cheese and broil for 2-3 minutes until cheese melts and turns golden in spots.
Pour soup into warm bowls and sprinkle remaining cheese over the hot soup. Top with hot cheesy toasts then serve.
French Onion Soup Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 11g69%
Vitamin A 500IU10%
Vitamin C 18mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.