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French Onion Soup

Updated on October 17, 2009

French Onion Soup

Completed French Onion Soup
Completed French Onion Soup

Simple, Easy & Delicious

This is one of my favorite recipes. And though it takes some time to make (about an hour) once you've made this you may never order a restaurant serving again!

As with all my recipes it's all about technique, but be sure to get good ingredients too. The one exception to this is the brandy/sherry/wine. The alcohol does not need to be that good. I routinely use the cheapest of these and always get good results regardless. I save the better wine etc. for drinking.

To make this amazing soup you'll need time and the proper equipment. As always I'll recommend a way of making this to cut down the number of utensils and pots you'll use. The baked on cheese is truly optional and once you've tried this without the topping you may never eat it that way again. Of course, the cheese, though not essential, is a nice touch. By the way, you do not have to stick to parmesan. You can use any moderately hard to hard cheese you wish.


Onion, Stock, Wine & Brandy (this is only about half the onions you'll need)
Onion, Stock, Wine & Brandy (this is only about half the onions you'll need)


  • 2 1/2 Pounds Onion
  • 1/4 Pound unsalted butter (unsalted allows you better control of salt content) This is typically one stick of butter.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 Cup Sherry or Brandy
  • 1 1/2 Cups Dry White Wine
  • 8 Cups Beef Stock or Beef Bullion
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt (has no iodine in it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (white or black)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or Swiss Gruyere* cheese

* Swiss Gruyere is not the "holey" Swiss cheese. It has a different flavor and texture.

Stock Pot


Allow one hour of your time for this dish.

I strongly recommend using a stock pot not a saute pan for the onions. The bottom surface area of the stock pot is smaller than a saute pan and the onions cook better and faster. Also, you will limit the number of dirty pots to one with this method.

Slice your onions (roughly eight [8] to ten [10] medium sized onions) into 1/4 inch rounds. Then cut the rounds in half to form semi-circular segments. Next, add the butter to your stockpot, at medium-high heat, and allow it to melt. The butter should just start to bubble before you add the onions.

Saute the onions with the butter and bay leaf for twenty minutes. Be sure to turn the onions frequently. Your aim is to get a nice golden brown through all the onions creating a nice caramelized color in the process.

Once the onions are cooked through add the 1/2 Cup of Sherry or brandy (I prefer brandy) to "de-glaze" the pot. By the end of the onion cooking process you should have bits of onion stuck to the bottom of the pot. The de-glazing will loosen these bits and put them in suspension. This is very important; you do not want to "throw out" the stuck bits as they add a lot of flavor to the dish. Once you've added the liqueur cook uncovered for five (5) minutes to cook out any alcohol.

Now add the 1 1/2 Cup white wine and continue to simmer uncovered for fifteen (15) minutes. Again the alcohol will be cooked out and the flavor of the wine and brandy (sherry) will be incorporated into the onions.

Add the eight (8) Cups of beef stock plus salt and pepper. Bring to a boil (high heat) and then simmer (low heat) for twenty (20) minutes uncovered. Finally remove the bay-leaf and serve.

Serving and Storing

Naturally you can add cheese to the dish and then bake it for additional flavor. Though most recipes call for Parmesan I much prefer Swiss Gruyere for flavor. Honestly though, they both taste good with this recipe.

Simply dish the soup into an oven safe bowl, add a piece of toast to fit, grate the cheese on top, and broil for five (5) to seven (7) minutes to melt the cheese.

I also like to serve this soup with sliced and toasted French Baguette. A nice sourdough baguette tastes pretty good with this soup too. If you have any of the dry white wine left after cooking that goes well with it too.

This soup can be frozen for up to two (2) weeks and refrigerated for up to five (5) days.


The power of the onion, bay-leaf, sherry (brandy) and wine make this a powerhouse of flavor. In fact I prefer to use brandy over sherry for the unique flavor imparted by this liqueur.

Though yellow onions are typical for this dish I prefer Mexican (an apparent cross between white and yellow) onions in this soup. They are "yellowish" have slightly more flavor than white onions, but are not as strongly flavored as yellow onions.

Make this dish with different types of onions for variations on flavor. White onions will give you a milder onion taste while yellow will impart a stronger flavor. You could even mix onion varieties to make the dish uniquely your own.

Changing the wine is also a viable option. In one instance I had run out of brandy and didn't notice until it was time to use it. Instead I used a 1/2 Cup of Cabernet; the soup was still quite delicious.

Though most recipes call for a cheese topping I definitely consider this an option. The soup is so flavorful you'll hardly miss the cheese if you leave it out.


Submit a Comment

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    Something different and sounds a good one too. The unique ingredients must give the onion soup a lovely tasting flavor.

  • IntimatEvolution profile image

    Julie Grimes 7 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

    Thanks for the swiss cheese tip. I love French onion soup. It is one of my all time favs........! Yum, yum good.

  • LiamBean profile image

    LiamBean 8 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    Habee: Thanks for reading.

    It's one of my wife and my favorites. It does take a while to make, but it freezes and refrigerates quite well.

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 8 years ago from Georgia

    My girls and I had this at a restaurant recently. It was served with French bread and melted cheese on top. We weren't sure what kind of cheese it was - we guessed either Swiss or Muenster. It was great! Bet yours is a lot better! I'll have to tell the girls about this recipe. Thanks!

  • LiamBean profile image

    LiamBean 8 years ago from Los Angeles, Calilfornia

    Thanks Kristi. It is "da bomb!!!" I'm sure it's the addition of wine and brandy (instead of sherry) that makes this soooo good. The odd part is that it's not that high calorie either.

    I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

  • Kristi Maloney profile image

    Kristi Maloney 8 years ago

    Hi Liam,

    Thanks for this great recipe and the added cooking info. I have bookmarked this hub as I plan to try it. I love onions and onion soup!