This traditional French Onion Soup recipe has a rich, decadent broth loaded with caramelized onions and topped with everyone’s favorite part: the toasted bread and melty cheese.
Homemade French Onion Soup
If there’s one soup I absolutely cannot resist, it’s homemade french onion soup. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to F.O.S., so don’t bother with that watery broth or get stingey with the onions. And please, make sure that cheese is plentiful and melty and creates a serious cheese pull.
As an expert french onion soup taster, I’ve narrowed down my very most favorite versions. There’s that one from that French Bistro in San Francisco, and the one I first had when I was probably 11 or 12, shopping with my mom at Trolley Square with lunch at The Pub, now known as Desert Edge Brewery, where they still serve a very good version. I seriously thought I had hit adulthood with our special lunches out.
But my new number one favorite French Onion Soup is from Nordstrom Café Bistro. It’s where my mom and I usually stop for a bite when we go shopping together, which in all honestly is actually our excuse to get this french onion soup. I loved it so much after eating it so 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.
Classic French Onion Soup Ingredients
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 overwhem fresh garlic can infuse. Use a store-bought roasted garlic paste if you prefer, or make your own pureey by slicing off the top 1/3 of a head of garlic then place it in a small baking dish.
Or, use 1 cup of peeled, fresh garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and add 1/2 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.
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 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.
What are the Best Onions 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.
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 on french onion soup? Here are 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
- Fontina: another mild white cheese that melts well
- Mozzarella: avoid using the fresh mozzarella as it will be watery when it melts
- Monterey Jack: a good general melty cheese that’s mild in flavor
I used a mix of provolone and gruyere for this batch. Cheese lovers rejoice!
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.
For me, there are three things that make a great french onion soup:
- A rich stock that tastes like it’s been simmered for hours to create its amazing depth.
- Lots of caramelized onions so the soup lives up to its name
- And everyone’s favorite part: the ultra melty cheese that tops floating bread slices and melts down the side of the bowls to be peeled off and eaten as dessert.
Keep reading for detailed instructions and tips on how to make french onion soup from scratch.
Cut the onions in half lengthwise, then into half moons about 1/4-inch or thicker.
The main thing with this soup is to caramelize the onions to create flavor. I love my caramelized onions for recipes like my French Onion Cheese Bread and my French Onion Dip, and the cooking method is much the same here.
The onions start off on high heat to really get them going, then are reduced to low to simmer along and get rich and savory. I use both butter and oil to cook the onions in so the butter doesn’t burn. The onions release quite a bit of liquid to start the process of creating the flavorful broth. Plan on at least an hour for the onions to get their deep dark coloring.
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 puree.
Then, the the bouquet garni, chicken stock, and beef base get stirred in and the soup is left to simmer for 45 minutes. Once the homemade french onion soup has had plenty of time on the stove, the bouqet garni gets discarded and the soup is ladled into oven-safe bowls.
Top each bowl with two or three baguette slices and a generous helping of shredded cheese. Then, pop the french onion soup under the broiler to melt the cheese.
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.
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.
This recipe calls for both red wine and sherry wine to deglaze the pan once the onions are cooked. 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 cookie sheet so any melted cheese that runs down the bowls doesn’t stick to the bottom of your oven.
More Classic Soups You’ll Want to Make Too
- 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
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or 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 1/4 inch thick with the grain
- 1/2 cup sherry wine
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1/8 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 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)
- 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 Recipes to Warm You Up This Winter
- Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
- Beef Bourguignon
- Homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni
- One-Pot Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole
- The Cheesiest Spinach and Cheese Lasagna
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