Easy, classic French onion soup is a dish that is greater than the sum of it’s parts. A rich and hearty soup with a velvety texture, covered in a crispy baguette and melty Gruyere cheese.
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I first learned about French onion soup in culinary school. It was my first week, and Lord, we were chopping onions and potatoes for five days. I was so ready to move on from knife skills, so when we got called down to the school’s restaurant (the graduating class runs the restaurant) for lunch on Friday, I was so there! Finally, I’d be able to see what we were going to be working with! No more knife skills, no more dicing, I finally get to eat!
I was sitting with my girl friends and with our Chef, and we got served some of the fanciest food I ever received on a plate at that time: lobster bisque, short ribs on mashed potatoes, beef carpaccio, and french onion soup. I have a photo from back then, I’m still great friends with both girls (one is getting married next October!) and they’ll have a great laugh that I still have these photos.
Oh my goodness, I’m laughing at these old photos right now. Y’all ready?
Hahahahaha! Oh I was 21 years old, I loved school so much!
Anyway, so we all shared the dishes and we all demolished everything…until it came to the french onion soup. We were so suspicious of it! I mean, onion soup doesn’t exactly sound appetizing to three 21 year olds…so Victoria tried it first. And she liked it, like, a lot. So then Andrea had some and she coerced me into taking a sip.
Dang it, y’all. I didn’t know how good french onion soup was!
I was in love. It’s rich and smooth, and surprisingly not onion-y at all. When you caramelize sweet onions, they lose that “onion” taste and texture. The soup is velvety, rich in body, full of warm, comforting flavors…I think this may be one of my favorite soups ever! At least in the Top 5.
Other soups include:
French onion soup reminds me of love, in a weird food way. It’s like a warm hug by someone you love. Except you’re eating it. *shrugs* It’s just good, dang it! That’s what I love about French food, it’s hearty, usually well-bodied, with lots of flavor, and a ton of love. Just like me! I kid. Okay, so maybe I’m not kidding…just a little!
This soup is so perfect for winter. Get a big, comfy blanket, your favorite movie and simmer this up for a bit. Perfect comfy-day cooking.
Quick tip, I suggest buying a mandoline or a food processor with a slicing attachment, this will knock your prep time down to absolutely nothing and your onions will be sliced to a beautiful uniform thinness.
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- 6 large sweet or yellow onions, sliced thinly
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1/2 of a fresh rosemary sprig
- 8 cups 2 quarts beef broth, vegetable broth (if vegetarian)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, optional
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups French bread, cubed into 2 inch pieces
- Drizzle olive oil
- 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
- Melt butter and oil together in a 5 quart dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onions, then stir to coat the onions in the fat. Cook for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure no onions burn.
- After fifteen minutes, season the onions with the salt, sugar and a generous helping of fresh black pepper. Stir to cover the onions in all the seasoning. Let cook for about 40-50 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the onions are a deep brown-amber color. If the onions are sticking to the pan, turn heat down a bit, the caramelization happens slowly; it will not happen quickly, if you turn up the heat, the onions will burn.
- After onions are caramelized, add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, then toss in flour and stir to coat the onions and garlic. Stir for one minute to cook out raw flour taste.
- Add thyme and rosemary, then splash in broth, a little at a time, stirring well to incorporate. After adding about two cups of broth, add the rest in at one time and stir to ensure no lumps. Bring to a boil. Once at a boil, add the wine, if using, and drop in the bay leaves.
- Turn down heat to low and partially cover your pot with a lid. Cook for 2-3 hours.
- Taste soup and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove herb sprigs.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Drizzle the olive oil onto the baguette slices and let crisp up in the oven for ten minutes.
- Divide soup into oven-safe soup bowls that are on top of a baking sheet or in a baking dish. Top each bowl with a slice of toasted baguette and put a generous amount of grated Gruyere on top of bread in a thick layer.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted, then turn oven to broil and broil the soup for 1-2 minutes. The cheese should be bubbly and browned. Remove carefully from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 190
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Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.