This authentic French Onion Soup recipe has a rich, decadent broth loaded with caramelized onions topped with everyone’s favorite part: the toasted bread and melty cheese.
If there’s one soup I cannot resist, it’s homemade French onion soup. I love my caramelized onions for recipes like my French Onion Cheese Bread and my French Onion Dip, but that rich, complex, sweet, and savory flavor is the absolute best in this cheesy, classic soup iteration.
This recipe for French onion soup comes from one of my favorite versions to date, from Nordstrom Café Bistro. I loved it so much after eating it many times that I asked them for the recipe, and surprise, surprise, they said yes. It’s now replaced my original French onion soup recipe here on the blog because it really is so much better.
What’s in French Onion Soup
There are a handful of additional ingredients in this easy French onion soup recipe besides what’s listed below, but here are the main flavor builders that go into this rich soup:
- Tomato paste is added for a touch of sweetness that truly deepens the broth. It does sound unusual for this soup, but believe me, do not skip it.
- Garlic purée adds another layer of garlic’s sweet flavor without the acrid overwhelm fresh garlic can infuse. Use a store-bought roasted garlic paste if you prefer, or make your own purée by slicing off the top ⅓ of a head of garlic and then placing it in a small baking dish.
Tip: Or, use 1 cup of peeled, fresh garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and add ½ cup water to the pan with a few peppercorns, cover with foil and bake at 350°F until the garlic is soft and tender about 1 hour. If roasting the whole head, remove the garlic from the papers and mash the cloves with a fork or in a blender.
- A concentrated beef base (I like this one) is added to chicken stock to create the broth. I like this method of mixing two broths better than using all beef broth or beef stock for a more well-rounded flavor.
- A fresh herb bouquet garni adds aromatics in a little muslin packet to easily discard once the cooking is done. Here’s how to make a bouquet garni.
- Baguette slices (you could use croutons or slices of bread if you wanted––I recommend French bread)
- A mix of provolone and gruyere cheese for that irresistibly melty, cheesy top
How to Make French Onion Soup
This recipe is not one that can be made in under 30 minutes or in the slow cooker or Instant Pot. No. This soup, while not hard to prep or make, simply takes a little time for all the depth of flavor to be created.
Slice your onions. Slice them in half lengthwise, then into half moons about ¼-inch or thicker.
Caramelize the onions. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, melt the butter and canola oil together over high heat and add the onions. Sauté, stirring occasionally until they start to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high heat and continue to sauté until the onions are a deep brown color, about 1 hour.
Build the Savory Flavor
Deglaze your pan with the sherry and red wine and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated.
Once the wines have cooked down, the flavor building continues with the addition of two special ingredients that add the umami and savory flavor building that makes this broth so rich and delicious: tomato paste and garlic purée.
Stir in the bouquet garni, chicken stock, and beef base. Simmer the soup for about 45 minutes, then discard the herbs and ladle the soup into bowls.
Top with baguette and cheese. Place two or three baguette slices and a generous helping of shredded cheese overtop each bowl of soup. Then, pop the french onion soup under the broiler to toast the baguette and melt the cheese. Garnish with fresh thyme or thyme sprigs.
How do You Deepen the Flavor of French Onion Soup
This French onion soup starts with a super savory broth base and well-caramelized onions (plan on at least an hour for the onions to get their deep dark coloring, because that’s where all of the flavors lie). If you want a deeper flavor, make sure to use a good broth and be patient with your onions (more color = more flavor).
The Best Cheese for French Onion Soup
Cheese is a very, very important component of a great F.O.S. You want it melty, and cheese-pull-worthy. Wondering what kind of cheese is in french onion soup?
I use a mix of provolone and gruyere, but these are all of my favorite cheeses for French onion soup:
- Provolone: mild but rich with the best cheese pull-ness
- Gruyere: a little nutty and earthy in flavor (Swiss cheese would also be a good substitute)
- Fontina: another mild white cheese that melts well
- Mozzarella: avoid using fresh mozzarella as it will be watery when it melts
- Monterey Jack: a good general melty cheese that’s mild in flavor
What Onion is Best for French Onion Soup
I’ve tried both sweet Vidalia and yellow onions in making this soup, and in the end, I couldn’t tell a difference.
What is French Onion Soup Broth Made of?
Many French onion soup recipes use beef stock as the brothy base, but I actually like this method of mixing two proteins—chicken stock and beef concentrate—for a more well-rounded flavor.
Can I Freeze French Onion Soup?
Yes, this homemade french onion soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Keep in mind that you’ll need to freeze the soup without the baguette and cheese topping.
Can I Omit the Wine?
No, the sherry and red wines are a must to achieve that classic french onion soup flavor. The alcohol cooks out during the cooking process and leaves behind a super-rich flavor, so it’s a must in my book.
3 Tips for Making the Best French Onion Soup
When cutting the onions, be careful not to cut them too thin. If you cut the onions too thin, they’ll melt away as they simmer down, and nobody wants a french onion soup that’s missing the onions.
For the best flavor, use red wine and sherry wine to deglaze the pan once the onions have finished caramelizing. If you don’t have sherry, use another dry white wine of your choice instead.
Before popping the soup bowls under the broiler, I recommend setting them on a sheet pan so any melted cheese that runs down the bowls doesn’t stick to the bottom of your oven.
What to Serve with French Onion Soup
- Kale Salad with Wild Rice and Butternut Squash
- Roasted Beet and Ricotta Salad
- Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan
- Kale Salad with Cranberries, Apple and Cheddar Cheese
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
The Best French Onion Soup
- 8 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 6 pounds yellow onions , sliced ¼ inch thick with the grain
- ½ cup sherry wine
- ½ cup red wine
- ⅛ cup tomato paste
- ¼ cup garlic purée
- 1 bouquet garni
- 4 tablespoons concentrated beef base
- 10 cups chicken stock
- thyme leaves for garnish
- 1 baguette , cut into 1 inch slices
- 8 slices provolone cheese
- 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese , (optional)
- In a large stock pot or dutch oven, melt the butter and canola oil together over high heat and add the onions. Sauté, stirring occasionally until they start to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high and continue to sauté until the onions are a deep brown color, about 1 hour.
- Deglaze with the sherry and red wine and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated.
- Stir in the tomato paste and garlic purée. Add the bouquet garni, chicken stock, and beef base and bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
- Skim the butter fat/foamy liquid from the top, and discard. Taste for seasoning and add salt or pepper as desired. Remove the bouquet garni.
- Ladle the soup into oven-safe bowls and top with 2-3 slices of the baguette, then top with a slice of provolone cheese and grated gruyere if desired. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and broil for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves and serve.
More Classic Soups to Master
- Broccoli Cheese And Potato Soup
- The Best Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
- How to Make the Best Minestrone Soup
- Easy Hamburger Vegetable Soup
- Market Street Clam Chowder Recipe
- Instant Pot Creamy Chicken And Wild Rice Soup
- Ina Garten’s Easy Cioppino Recipe
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Love French onion soup this looks delicious
I think I will have to go to the Pub (my favorite place) for lunch. I always get the onion soup with their pasta salad (my favorite)
This was worth all the effort! I had to caramelize the onions in batches but other than that, followed the recipe exactly. Such complex flavors. A keeper recipe for me!
Would you believe I’ve never made french onion soup… or EEEEK… I’ve never even had it!? But while browsing your site I saw this and now I have to add it to my meal planner for sure! It looks amazing!
Delicious soup! Made it tonight. The only thing I would say it’s it’s REALLY garlicky. Also the recipe that is linked for how to caramelize the onions says 3 lbs but the soup recipe says 6lbs which lead to some confusion. Really delicious though!!
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
Onion soup is one of my favorites Heidi! My mother always made it when I was growing up. It was such a special treat! Your fantastic recipe is bringing back some great memories! Can’t wait to try!
Anyone who has had French Oinion Soup probably retains it as a favourite. I mean proper FOS which is nothing like the efforts from cans and such. In the same regards proper Minestone (leftovers) Soup is also nothing like their efforts too.
Gosh, I love all things french onion. It’s my husband’s favorite soup. Amazing recipe, amazing post…yum
French onion soup … one of our favorite meals. I clearly do not make it often enough as it is not even on the site. Love caramelized onions and gooey cheese.
Thank you for the very sweet mention in your post. We had a wonderful time meeting you and hanging out. Looking forward to more great time, in SF and Utah!!
Katie | The Hill Country Cook
Oh. Muh. Gawd Heidi! I LOVE French Onion Soup. And just as Tammy had suggested, you photographed your soup in shallow bowls! Looks gorgeous, and I think my stomach is grumbling. This one will be on the to-do list!
And, LOVING the magazine!! I wasn’t sure if I’d like the online version, but I do!
Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen
It’s been YEARS since I had French onion soup! I miss it!
I love the shot with you in the spoon – how fun!
It was great to finally meet you in person and have some one on one time this weekend. You’re just as fabulous as I thought you would be :) Hope you’ll be back in VA soon!
Brandi,I’m sure we’ll meet up again before either of us can imagine. So happy to have met you and your husband too.