How can I Make French Onion Soup?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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French Onion Soup may be one of the ultimate comfort foods, and is a delicious way to start a meal. Alternately, the richness of French Onion Soup complimented with a salad will often serve as a complete meal, either for lunch or dinner.

Recipes abound for French Onion Soup, in cookbooks and online. This following recipe makes enough soup to serve four. The recipe can be doubled for more guests or halve it for fewer. You will also need several important tools along the way.

For French Onion Soup you need access to:

  • A broiler
  • A sharp knife
  • Soup bowls that are oven proof and can withstand broiler temperatures
  • A large pot

Ingredients needed for French Onion Soup

  • 1-2 pounds (.45-.9 kg) of onions
  • 8 cups (1.89 liters) Beef stock, chicken stock, or vegetable stock
  • Butter
  • ½ (.125 liters) cup red wine or port
  • 8 slices of Gruyere or Jarlsberg Cheese
  • One baguette
  • Pepper

Prep Work
Start by chopping your onions. Ideally the onions should be cut into thin layers of slices about half to an inch (1.27-2.54 cm) long, but you can also chop the onions into smaller slices. Also cut four to eight slices of baguette slices about .25 inches (.63 cm) thick. You can instead cube the bread, but sliced baguette is more traditional. Some people also chose to grate the cheese rather than to slice it. Again slices of cheese are quicker and make more traditional French Onion Soup.

Cooking Steps
Begin by sautéing your chopped onions in butter in the large pot. Your goal should be to produce caramelized onions that have a little bite to them still. Depending upon heat used, this process can take between 10-20 minutes. The onions should be sweet by the time sautéing is finished. Also, lightly toast your slices of baguette.

Next you’ll want to add your beef stock. Look for a reduced salt beef stock when possible. Bring the stock and onions to a boil and then set the pot to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Note: This should be done in the same pot that was used to cook the onions. If you use a different pan to sauté the onions you will lose some of their flavor.

About halfway through the simmering process, add the red wine or port. You can skip this if you don’t cook with alcohol, but it does add a richer flavor to the French Onion Soup. Add pepper, and possibly salt to taste at the same time you add the wine. Also, turn on the broiler to high at this time. If you don’t have a broiler, simply set the oven to its highest temperature.

When the soup is sufficiently cooked, pour into ovenproof bowls, and top each soup bowl with a crouton slice. Then layer on the cheese. The goal should be total coverage of the top of each bowl. If necessary, use more cheese slices to achieve this.

Place the soup bowls in the broiler and keep a close eye on them, since this part of French Onion Soup can happen very quickly. Ideally check every couple of minutes until the cheese is partially browned and bubbly.

The French Onion Soup is now ready to serve, but do warn diners that the soup bowls are extremely hot. You may also want to serve French Onion Soup with slices of crusty, warmed bread for dipping.

You can use pre-made onion soup if you are short on time. Then you merely need to heat, pour into bowls, layer on bread and cheese, and broil. Store bought French bread croutons can be purchased to avoid slicing and toasting bread. Bouillon cubes can be used for the broth, but the end product will be saltier.


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Discuss this Article

Post 2

French onion has to be one of my favorite soups. I really like it. It has such a nice depth of flavor. I've never tried it, although I'd like to. I know it's not difficult, but it can be time-consuming.

I know I'd definitely use a low-sodium beef broth for the recipe. Full sodium broth can be extremely salty. Low sodium is always a better choice.

I've heard of making french onion soup in the slow cooker, and I think that's probably a good idea, since this is one of those soups that benefits from a longer cooking time. You might want to add just a little more wine or port about 30 minutes before serving, just to brighten up the flavor.

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