Classic French Onion Soup


The first time I had French onion soup, I think Jason and I were dating maybe a little over a year. The reason why I never had it before was because I used to have an aversion to onions. I never liked them until college and even then, I couldn’t fathom drinking an entire soup made from onions. I know, it’s crazy. A food blogger that used to not like onions – how did I cook?! Well, I’d cook with them, I just would pick them out :) and of course, in French onion soup, you can’t really pick out the onions.

So by the time Jason and I went to this nice French restaurant for dinner, I had grown to love onions and couldn’t get enough of them. We each ordered a bowl of French onion soup (me having it for the first time) and I don’t think I’ve been so impressed with soup in my entire life. I loved the cheesy topping but what I loved most was the sweet caramelized onion flavor that perfumed the entire soup. It was so comforting. I still dream about that soup. We haven’t been back to that restaurant in a while but every time we pass it, I think of their incredible French onion soup.

I figured I’d give it a shot and make it at home. It was one of those weekends that was forecasted to be a brutal chill so I thought it’d be the perfect soup to have throughout the weekend.

I just loved cooking this. The sweet onion smell enveloped my entire house. It’s such a great scent!! I will say that making this soup is a labor of love because of how much time you invest in caramelizing the onions, but the taste it outstanding. If you’re in a rush and can’t dedicate two hours to this soup, then don’t make it. Rushing this won’t give you the results (and don’t be knocking at my door saying it doesn’t taste good!) so save it for another day if you’re in a hurry. Also, this is actually a little bit different than your typical French onion soup as it doesn’t have beef stock in it. It’s definitely not one bit missed in here. Don’t add it, you may compromise the entire soup if you change it up. Vegetarians and meat lovers can adore this soup together!

Hope everyone has a warm & relaxing weekend :)

Classic French Onion Soup
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
3 hr
Total Time
3 hr 5 mins

Making this Classic French Onion Soup truly is a labor of love but it's so worth it for this comfort soup!

Servings: 6
  • 3 pounds yellow onions, cut into 1/8-inch pieces
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more if needed
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 crusty baguette
  • 8 ounces gruyere cheese
  1. Melt butter in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, salt and sugar and cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Take the cover off and cook, stirring frequently, the onions for 90 minutes. Yes, 90 minutes. You should achieve a golden brown color to the onions.
  3. At this point, stir every 5 minutes and add a tbsp. of water at a time to loosen up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Continue doing this for another 30 minutes until the onions are even darker brown.
  4. Add the flour and stir for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the 8 cups of water and thyme and bring to a boil. Then add the white wine then let simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt, to taste.
  6. In the meantime, turn on the broiler in your oven and adjust the rack to the upper middle position. Slice your baguette into 3/4 inch thick slices.
  7. Carefully broil the baguettes for 1-2 minutes on each side (or until they achieve a light brown crisp color - watch them carefully so they don't burn). Remove from oven and set aside.
  8. At this point you can start ladling in your soup into oven-safe bowls. Place a slice of baguette on top and a large slice of gruyere cheese on top of the baguette slice. Place the bowls carefully into the oven under the broiler and broil until cheese has melted and is bubbly and slightly brown, about 5 minutes.
  9. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Be very careful with the bowl and make sure to not touch it while eating your soup!
  10. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Recipe Notes

Source: Cook's Illustrated



Posted on February 22, 2013

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  1. 02/22/2013 at 6:53 am

    There’s something so comforting about french onion soup. I made it for the first time when Logan and I were first married and it was a hit! Mmm, can’t go wrong with cheesy bread dipped in delicious soup! :D

  2. 02/22/2013 at 7:58 am

    I’m the same way! I’m a little scared to eat this soup…but it at the same time looks so good.

  3. Meredith
    02/22/2013 at 8:16 am

    French onion soup is one of my favorites! I can’t wait to make this!

  4. 02/22/2013 at 8:26 am

    YUM! It’s colddd today and nothing sounds better than curling up with this soup. I love the cheesy goodness of French onion soup – so comforting!

  5. 02/22/2013 at 8:58 am

    I adore french onion soup! I actually was pretty bummed when I heard that it’s not really served much in Paris, but more in other areas of France. I had a vision of eating it in a window of a Bistro somewhere.

    Anyway- this looks fantastic. I definitively will try it on a rainy day with lots of time to devote to it!

  6. 02/22/2013 at 9:15 am

    Looks delicious! French Onion Soup is one of my faves! I put the onions in the crock pot and let them go for like 18 hours – they turn out PERFECT!

  7. 02/22/2013 at 9:48 am

    Creating caramelized onions is truly one of the most rewarding ways to invest your time in the kitchen! I adore French onion soup and your pics with the classic cheesy, toasty topping have me craving it for breakfast Julie!

  8. 02/22/2013 at 10:07 am

    This looks really good on a snowy day like today……mmmm!

  9. 02/22/2013 at 10:15 am

    I always figured French Onion Soup was one of those things you just ordered out. After reading your post, it seems like a worth-while investment to make at home for the aroma, and the ultimate reward, the taste! Mmm – I can’t wait!

  10. 02/22/2013 at 10:20 am

    French Onion Soup is seriously my favorite soup out there!

  11. 02/22/2013 at 10:20 am

    French onion is my FAVORITE. I adore this one!

  12. 02/22/2013 at 10:23 am

    I just got hot for that melty cheese on top. I probably shouldn’t have typed that out.

  13. 02/22/2013 at 10:43 am

    My husband adores this soup and I’ve never attempted it from scratch. Must change that!

  14. I just had this soup on tuesday night at a fancy restaurant and I thought to myself I need to make this at home! Looks like a great recipe! The cheese is my favorite part :)

  15. 02/22/2013 at 11:04 am

    Caramelized onions are my favorite =)) this looks fantastic!!

  16. 02/22/2013 at 12:05 pm

    Did you know this was Julia Childs last meal? Totally classy and fitting for her. Mine will probably be something lame like a thin mint and a beer!

  17. 02/22/2013 at 12:16 pm

    Swoon! Loving your pictures and I adore French Onion Soup, I made it a while back and fell in love, just smelled amazing when it was cooking! I totally get where you’re coming from with the not liking onions thing, I never used to, but now I love them and put them in almost everything!! My Dad likes to say it’s because I’ve finally “grown up” !!

  18. 02/22/2013 at 12:35 pm

    French onion soup is one of my favorites, love the crostini topping!

  19. 02/22/2013 at 12:36 pm

    Man I cant wait to dig into a bowl of this! The cheese and crouton on top! Oh goodness! I need to get on making this soup ASAP

  20. 02/22/2013 at 12:53 pm

    I’m impressed this does not use beef stock! It’s supposed to be a snowy weekend here so this would be the perfect soup to make.

  21. 02/22/2013 at 12:55 pm

    I’ve been looking for THE best French onion soup recipe for year. I do believe this could be it! :)

  22. 02/22/2013 at 12:58 pm

    I am a big fan of french onion soup and buying it at restaurants sometimes scares me because of how much salt is in it (sometimes). Homemade is great so you can control that–I need to try this recipe soon. Have a great weekend.

  23. 02/22/2013 at 12:59 pm

    I am an onion addict so this soup looks like perfection! I can’t wait to try this since I have a big bag of onions with this soup written all over them :)

  24. 02/22/2013 at 1:41 pm

    Dear God I love french onion soup. This looks freaking amazing!

  25. 02/22/2013 at 1:54 pm

    French onion soup is my all time favorite. It’s pretty easy to make, the only problem is that I don’t have dishes that I can put in the oven to melt the cheese. Ideas?

  26. That’s all I ate in Paris. It’s so cliche and I loved every single second of it. I basically wanted to dink French onion soup every second of my life.

  27. 02/22/2013 at 2:23 pm

    My favorite soup ever! It looks perfect!

  28. 02/22/2013 at 3:04 pm

    I love french onion soup and haven’t had it in far too long. This recipe sounds delicious. Perfect for a dreary Oregon day!

  29. 02/22/2013 at 3:35 pm

    I’m craving some of this with the cold weather!!

  30. 02/22/2013 at 4:23 pm

    I have my reservations when it comes to onions, but that looks like a bowl of comforting soup!

  31. 02/22/2013 at 4:52 pm

    Looks delicious, it’s making me hungry–and I just ate lunch!

  32. French Onion soup is my husbands favorite. This looks wonderful for those cold nights!

  33. 02/22/2013 at 8:17 pm

    The amazing cheesy top is always what gets me about this soup!

  34. 02/22/2013 at 9:18 pm

    Looks delicious. I made your pumpkin chocolate-chunk muffins and they are to die for! I hope it’s ok that I linked back to your blog on my post. I had to share the recipe. (found it through Pinterest)

    Feel free to come and check out my blog if you get a chance!


  35. 02/22/2013 at 11:18 pm

    I have always been intimated by the carmelizing process, but this looks too good to try. I’m thinking I will add it to next month’s menu. Thanks for sharing!

  36. 02/23/2013 at 12:09 am

    French Onion soup is one of my favorites and I have yet to try making it myself!

  37. 02/23/2013 at 11:31 am

    Onions are one of my very favorite foods, and while I’ve had french onion soup I’ve never made it at home myself. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for – just looking at your pictures has me craving a giant bowl for lunch today!

  38. 02/23/2013 at 2:30 pm

    French Onion Soup is one those meals that never taste as good as the restaurant version. I have a good feeling about this recipe though! Fingers crossed.

  39. 02/23/2013 at 8:57 pm

    I made French onion soup for my husband once. He loves it so I braved the chopping of all those onions just for him. My eyes were stinging so bad that I actually wore my snowboarding goggles to be able to get through it. He loved the soup – so it was worth my eyes burning and mascara smearing. Your soup looks great!

  40. 02/24/2013 at 2:24 pm

    Ive never had french onion soup before..this is beautiful..I really hope I find the time to make it before ‘soup season’ is over this year! Any tips though on crying eyes?! :)

  41. 02/24/2013 at 4:47 pm

    I am OBSESSED with French Onion soup! Totally intrigued to try this vegetarian version!!!

  42. 02/25/2013 at 9:13 pm

    I could happily eat this soup every day of my life!

    • as
      05/08/2017 at 7:28 am

      i will try it.

  43. Sid123
    10/14/2014 at 3:10 am

    i need to ask how many onions i should use? not familiar with measuring them in pounds..can u give me an estimate please, for example 4-5 medium onions? thanks so much! sorry if my question sounds too dumb.

    • Julie
      10/14/2014 at 7:21 am

      Hmm, I would think about 7-8 medium onions.

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