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How to Make Authentic French Onion Soup

Giovanna was an SEN teacher and enjoys helping parents with school-aged dyslexic children cope with school workloads

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

The cold nights are drawing in, and so it’s time for soup. Here’s a recipe to one of my favorites: delicious, authentic French onion soup. It’s absolutely delicious, really warming, and extremely nutritious.

The thing I like about this soup is the rich, surprising flavor. Please don't be put off by the fact it is made only of onions, because the finished dish is absolutely delicious and tastes far better than it sounds. The word 'French' in any recipe usually means gourmet! It tastes sort of nutty and very rich, and the cheese and croutons really finish it off well.

It's also quite a filling dish and ideal for a special lunch when served with garlic bread and a tossed mixed salad.

My auntie Francoise is from Paris, and she taught me her own recipe for French Onion Soup. Her big tip is adding the bay leaf.

Fortunately, it is a fairly easy dish to prepare, but because it is not a commonly made soup, it causes quite a stir at the table when your guests see you placing it before them. Like all good dishes, the aroma whets the appetite, and the lovely, rich, dark colour has something for the eyes, too.

The only hard part about cooking this soup is cutting the onions, but I've got a great gadget to help you with that! It is also worth remembering that simply chilling your onion for 30 minutes in the fridge before you chop it will reduce your tears!

It is worth knowing that onions are not just a useful flavouring to be eaten with things that are good for you. They have many nutritional benefits themselves.

Onions are high in vitamin C and are also a good source of dietary fiber. They are also fat, sodium, and cholesterol free, and are low in calories.

Sliced Onions Ready for French Onion Soup

Sliced Onions Ready for French Onion Soup

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

1 hour

1 hour

2 hours

6 people


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed ( I used 3!)
  • 1 1/2 lb white onions, thinly sliced (700g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (white or brown)
  • 1/4 dry sherry or 1/2 pint of dry white wine (275 ml)
  • 2 pints vegetable stock (1.5 liters)
  • 6 large croutons of French bread
  • 8 oz Gruyere cheese, grated (225g)
  • I bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons brandy (optional!)


  1. Take a large saucepan or frying pan and heat the butter and oil together, add the sugar. To this add the thinly sliced onions and crushed garlic. Cook gently on a very low heat, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or until the onions are soft and have changed color. There should be a sticky film at the bottom of your saucepan or skillet. Be patient, the more they cook at the stage the deeper the flavor. Frying onions on a high heat will make them bitter. Always use a low heat and they’ll be delicious. The bottom of the pan should have a caramelized film on it. This will make the color and the flavor of the soup wonderful.
  2. While it is cooking prepare your croutons. These are very easy to make using French bread. Cut diagonal slices and pop them in a medium oven for about 20 minutes until they're crisp and brown.
  3. If you fried the onions in a frying pan, transfer them to a pot now. Once this is done, it's time to add the stock, and the wine or sherry, and add the bay leaf. Bring the pot to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour with a lid on.
  4. Once cooked, season to taste and add the optional, but strongly advised, brandy.
  5. If you want to make individual bowls, then you will need fireproof ones. Otherwise, use a large ovenproof dish because the soup has to go under the grill for a few minutes before serving.
  6. Spread a little butter on each crouton, and put them at the bottom of each bowl. Pour the soup over these. The croutons will float to the top. Sprinkle them with grated cheese.
  7. Put them under the grill until the cheese starts to bubble, and serve immediately.

Cook the Onions Thoroughly

It's very important to cook the onions properly. Saute until they begin to caramelize. This takes at least 30 minutes on a low heat, stirring often.


Do you like French onion soup? Let me know what you think. Please do leave a comment.

© 2013 Giovanna