How to Make Authentic French Onion Soup

Updated on February 3, 2018
French Onion Soup
French Onion Soup | Source

The cold nights are drawing in, and so it’s time for soup. Here’s a recipe to one of my top 10 soups: 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 nicer 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, and leaving the seasoning till the soup is cooked.

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.

To be honest 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.

Onions Ready For Slicing For French Onion Soup

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 2 hours
Yields: 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 - can be brown
  • 1/4 Dry Sherry or 1/2 pint of dry white wine (275 ml)
  • 2 pints veg. stock (cubes work well) (1.5 liters)
  • 6 large croutons of French bread
  • 8 oz Gruyere cheese, grated (225g)
  • I bay leaf
  • Seasoning
  • 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.
5 stars from 1 rating of French Onion Soup

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

© 2013 Giovanna Sanguinetti


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    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      I'm so glad that you like this soup because it genuinely is one of my favorites. Thanks very much indeed for your visit.

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      Ibidii 3 years ago

      I love french onion soup. My husbands grandmother was born in Paris as well as his Mother. His grandmother taught me some cooking and I had this for the first time back then in 1970. I am lucky that my daughter cooks for us and makes this for us at least once every 2 months. Great article and recipe!

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      Great! It's not that difficult to make. Make sure the onions have changed color at the cooking stage -nice and gently but they must go a bit brown - soft - a bit like the onions you would put on top of a burger! The small teaspoon of sugar is important. I hope you enjoy it. Let me know. Thanks for your visit.

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago from Maryland, USA

      I'm pinning this so I can show it to the Mister later. This looks delicious. I bet he'd make this for us.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from Perth UK

      @julieannbrady: Absolutely yumm! Thanks for your visit and hope you enjoy your soup.

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      julieannbrady 3 years ago

      I do like French Onion soup and always liked the layer of cheese melted on top. A little brandy in the recipe? Yumm.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 4 years ago from Perth UK

      @Pam Irie: She'll be glad to hear that! She's in her 80s now. Thanks for your visit and i hope you enjoy the soup.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 4 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I have never tried to make this soup before but the part about your auntie from Paris giving you this recipe, makes me want to make some ASAP. :) Thank you for sharing!

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 4 years ago from Perth UK

      @sousababy: Yes you're quite right the cheese can make it salty - I don't usually put any cheese on mine. That makes the soup sweeter and my son loves it that way. Thanks for you visit and comment.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 4 years ago

      I used to love having French Onion Soup in restaurants (in my 20's). I often found the cheese used was too stringy and sometimes the soup was too salty. And, I've never made it myself (yet). Thanks for a fabulous recipe.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 4 years ago from Perth UK

      @Dressage Husband: It certainly is delicious -so filling and warming and very, very good for you too! Thanks for your visit and for leaving a comment.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Yes and this recipe sounds delicious!

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 4 years ago from Perth UK

      @anonymous: Yummy!Thanks for your visit. Let me know how you get on making it.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Love, love, love homemade Onion soup!