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French Onion Soup

Classic French onion soup, inspired by Julia Child and tweaked just a tad, with loads of caramelized onions simmered in beef broth and wine and then topped with bread croutons and gooey, melted Gruyère cheese.

French Onion Soup in serving bowls with melted cheese on top.

I’ve been wanting to try making French onion soup at home for years, and I finally did.  Not sure what took me so long, I order it often when it’s on the menu.  I guess I thought it would be too hard or something, but it’s not.  Just takes some patience to caramelize the onions properly.

Spoonful of soup with crouton and cheese.

I got out my Julia Child cookbook, studied her recipe, and then I tweaked a bit with some insights from Tyler Florence’s version.  Mainly, I swapped out the white wine for red, and added a few more aromatics.  I mean, I’m guessing there’s only so many ways to make a good French onion soup.  I never go wrong with Julia.

Soup in bowl out of oven with melted cheese.

Be patient with the onions.  They take a long time to caramelize properly, don’t rush the process.  You want a deep, golden brown color and that’s going to take at least 45 minutes.

Procees photo collage of caramelizing onions

What kind of cheese is best for French onion soup?

Many consider the melted cheese on top of the soup the best part.  It kind of is.  I toast baguette slices in the oven and then rub them with garlic.  Pop a couple of baquette slices on top of the soup and generously cover with freshly grated Gruyère cheese.

That’s the preferred cheese by far and you should be able to easily find it. But if you need a substitute, try emmental, jarlsberg, comté, beaufort or raclette.  I’m kind of wanting to try raclette, myself.

Two photo collage adding bread crouton and cheese before oven.

So your soup is done and assembled in oven proof bowls, all that’s needed now is a trip under the broiler.  There is nothing as good as slurping a bowl of French onion soup just out of the oven with all that melted cheese.

But the onion-studded broth underneath is the star ~ sweet, deeply savory, with perfectly rich onion flavor and the right consistency.  This is the soup to make on a cold, weekend day.  Trust me, we had it two days in a row.  Enjoy, Kelly🍴🐦

Close up of French onion soup on spoon with melted cheese.

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French Onion Soup, close up in oven proof bowl with melted cheese.

French Onion Soup

Classic French onion soup with deeply caramelized onions, beef broth and red wine, topped with baguette croutons and Gruyère cheese.
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Soup
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 6
Calories: 481kcal
Author: Kelly Wildenhaus | the hungry bluebird


  • pounds (about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions 3-4 large onions, cut end to end, then sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter I use salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ¾ cup red wine
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 quarts low sodium beef broth, store bought or homemade
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 French baguette, cut into rounds
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half, to rub on toasted bread slices
  • 2 cups grated Gruyére cheese


  • Heat butter and olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed Dutch oven.  Cook onions, garlic, bay leaves and thyme, covered, over medium low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Uncover, raise heat to medium high and add salt and sugar.  Cook, stirring frequently until onions are deep, golden brown, about 30-40 minutes.  (If looking very dry or burning, add a little water to deglaze the bottom of the pan,)
  • Add red wine and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until evaporated and onions are dry, about 5 minutes.  Discard bay leaves and thyme.
  • Sprinkle flour over onions, stir to combine for about 3 minutes to cook off flour taste.
  • Add the beef broth, stir well to combine and simmer, partially covered, for about 30 minutes, stirring and skimming occasionally, if needed.
  • Meanwhile, make croutons.  Preheat oven to 325º.  Place bread rounds on baking sheet and bake until crisped and lightly browned, about 20 minutes, flipping halfway and basting with a little olive oil.  When done, rub each piece with cut garlic clove, set aside.
  • Taste onion broth for salt and pepper.  To serve, ladle warm soup into oven proof bowls, top with 2 croutons and a generous amount of grated Gruyère cheese.  Place under broiler to melt and lightly brown.  Enjoy!
Keyword: french onion soup, classic french onion soup recipe, best french onion soup
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