French Onion Soup With Flavorful Ingredients Perfect For Meal Time

On a chilly day, there’s something uniquely comforting about a bowl of my beloved french onion soup recipe. Its rich, savory broth envelops you in warmth while the sweet caramelized onions dance playfully on your palate.

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Onion Soup

French onion soup is a rich and warming meal. The main flavors come from the caramelized onions and the intense beef stock.

If you have never had French onion soup, you might have thought it was vegetarian. Still, the most essential ingredient is beef stock. Without it, you cannot get the deep richness this soup is known for.

If you are vegetarian, scroll down to the bottom of our recipe. We have a unique ingredient to help you imitate the all-important beef stock.

What Is French Onion Soup?

French onion soup is a traditional dish from France, known for its comforting and rich flavors. It’s often considered a classic bistro dish and has become famous worldwide for its unique blend of simplicity and depth of taste.

At its core, French onion soup is an onion and broth-based soup, but the method of preparation transforms these simple ingredients into something extraordinary. The essential process in making the soup is the caramelization of the onions. They are sliced and slowly cooked until they reach a deep brown color and develop a rich flavor.

Once the onions are caramelized, they are deglazed with wine, which lifts the flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan, adding another layer of complexity. Then, a savory broth, traditionally beef but sometimes chicken or vegetable, is added. The soup is simmered to let the flavors meld together.

What sets French onion soup apart is its iconic garnish. Each bowl of soup is topped with a slice of crusty bread and a generous amount of cheese, usually Gruyère. The soup is then broiled until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly browned.

The result is a satisfying, hearty soup with a sweet and savory balance of flavors, contrasted by the crispy cheese topping and the tender-soaked bread. French onion soup is a testament to the transformative power of slow cooking and careful layering of flavors.

History Of French Onion Soup

The origins of French onion soup are as rich and layered as the dish itself. This humble soup is steeped in history, dating back to Roman times when it was served up to fortify and warm weary travelers in roadside inns. It gained prominence in the 18th century, hailed as a trendy cure-all for hangovers amongst the fashionable Parisian crowd.

The modern recipe we adore, complete with cheese-topped crusty bread, is traced back to Louis XV of France. Legend says the king found himself in a hunting lodge with nothing but onions, butter, and champagne. The king supposedly created the first French onion soup from these meager ingredients. 

Whether the story is fact or simply tantalizing folklore, there’s no denying the impact of this dish. From ancient inns to royal lodges and Parisian cafes, French onion soup has become a globally loved comfort food, cherished for its depth of flavor and heart-warming qualities.

Interesting Facts About French Onion Soup

  • Roman Beginnings: The concept of onion soup dates back to Roman times, when it was seen as food for people experiencing poverty, given that onions were plentiful and easy to grow. The modern French version, with cheese and bread, evolved much later.
  • The King’s Creation?: An interesting, albeit debated, legend attributes the creation of the modern French onion soup to King Louis XV of France. The story goes that the king was trapped in his hunting lodge with nothing but onions, butter, and champagne and thus concocted the soup.
  • Hangover Cure: In 18th century France, French onion soup was considered a fashionable hangover cure among the Parisian party crowd.
  • Late-Night Staple: French onion soup is a popular late-night dish in France, especially in Paris, where it’s often served in brasseries and diners after a night of revelry.
  • In the Spotlight: French onion soup has been featured in numerous movies and TV shows as a symbol of comfort and sophistication. For example, it has a prominent role in Pixar’s “Ratatouille,” which symbolizes the transformation of simple ingredients into a culinary masterpiece.
  • French Onion Soup Day: A day dedicated to celebrating this delicious dish, National French Onion Soup Day is celebrated on November 21 in the United States.
  • Cheese Controversy: While most recipes suggest using Gruyère cheese for the perfect French onion soup, there’s a bit of controversy. Some French chefs insist that Comté cheese, another type of French cheese, offers a better flavor and melt.
  • Wine Pairing: A robust, full-bodied red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon or a lighter white wine like a Chardonnay pairs beautifully with French onion soup, complementing its rich, savory flavors.

What Makes The Soup Special? 

We kind of ruined the surprise already. The secret ingredient is the hidden beef stock. The depth of flavor the stock brings adds a warming richness that cannot be replaced.

You’d be wrong if you thought this soup was all about onions. The overall flavor will end up surprising you.

But as with everything, you can’t pick up any old stock or throw some onions into the pot.You need to perfect both ingredients to create a flawless French onion soup.

    Onion Soup

    Highlighting Key Ingredients

    The key players in our French Onion Soup spotlight are fresh yellow onions, slowly caramelized to coax out their innate sweetness. A hearty beef broth serves as the liquid backbone, giving depth to the dish. To crown the soup, we use crusty French bread and gooey, melted Gruyère cheese, completing this timeless classic.


    French onion soup is a delectable dish with rich flavors. The key ingredients include caramelized onions, beef broth, Gruyère or Swiss cheese, and toasted baguette slices. The sweet and savory onions and the flavorful broth and melted cheese create a delightful balance of flavors that make this soup a classic favorite.

    The ingredient table with the details:

    Olive Oil3 tablespoons
    Butter2 tablespoons
    Onions, peeled & thinly sliced6 cups
    Kosher Salt1 tablespoon
    Sugar1 tablespoon
    Best Balsamic Vinegar (e.g., Rubio)2 tablespoons
    Unbleached All-Purpose Flour3 tablespoons
    Dry White Wine3/4 cup
    Homemade Beef Stock3 quarts
    Kosher Salt and Fresh Black Pepperto taste (you’ll need plenty of both)
    Grated Gruyere Cheese1/4 cup
    Slices of French Breadto preference
    Garlic Clove peeled1

    Key Ingredients Needed For The Soup

    The key ingredients needed to make French onion soup are:

    • Onions: The star of the dish, usually yellow or sweet onions is used. They are slowly caramelized to bring out their natural sweetness.
    • Butter and Olive Oil: These are used for caramelizing the onions, giving them a rich flavor.
    • Flour: Some recipes use a small amount of flour to help thicken the soup.
    • White Wine: Used to deglaze the pan and add complexity to the soup’s flavor. A dry wine is typically preferred.
    • Broth: Traditionally beef broth is used, but you can use chicken or vegetable broth for a lighter soup or to accommodate dietary restrictions.
    • Herbs: Thyme and a bay leaf are commonly used. Some recipes also include garlic.
    • Bread: A thick slice of crusty bread like a baguette is placed on top of each bowl of soup.
    • Cheese: Gruyère is traditionally used for its good melting properties and nutty flavor. The cheese is sprinkled over the bread and broiled until bubbly and golden.
    • Salt and Pepper: These are used to season the soup. Some recipes also include a dash of sugar to help with the caramelization of the onions.

    Ingredient Tips

    Here are some tips regarding the ingredients for French Onion Soup:

    • Onions: Yellow onions are traditionally used for their balance of sweetness and astringency. However, you could experiment with different types, like red onions for a more robust flavor or sweet Vidalia onions for a milder taste.
    • Butter and Olive Oil: The combination of butter and olive oil helps prevent the onions from burning during caramelization. The butter brings a creamy, rich flavor, while the olive oil has a higher smoke point, protecting the butter from burning.
    • Flour: This is used to thicken the soup slightly, but ensure it’s cooked adequately with the onions to remove any raw flour taste.
    • Broth: Homemade broth is always the best for depth of flavor, but store-bought can work in a pinch. If you’re using store-bought, opt for a low-sodium version so you have more control over the salt level.
    • Wine: Choose a dry white wine that you enjoy drinking. The flavor will concentrate as it cooks, so using a good quality one is essential. You can replace it with more broth if you prefer to cook with something other than wine.
    • Herbs: Fresh herbs can be used instead of dried for a more vibrant flavor. Remember that fresh herbs are less potent, so you must use them more.
    • Bread: A crusty French baguette is traditionally used, but any hearty bread that can hold up to the broth will work.
    • Cheese: Gruyère is the classic choice due to its excellent melting properties and slightly nutty flavor. You could also use Emmental, Comté, or a combination. For a richer flavor, try a mix of Gruyère and Parmesan.

    Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients?

    You can vary the recipe for French Onion Soup to accommodate different dietary preferences or restrictions. Here are some modifications you might consider:

    • Keto

    You could substitute the sugar used in caramelizing the onions with a keto-approved sweetener for a keto-friendly version. Also, omit the bread or use a keto-friendly bread alternative.

    • Paleo

    Paleo adherents avoid grains, so you’d want to replace the traditional bread with a paleo-friendly version. Be sure to use a high-quality bone broth for added nutrients.

    • Gluten-Free 

    The main component of French onion soup that contains gluten is the bread. Use gluten-free bread instead, and ensure your broth is also gluten-free.

    • Whole 30

    For a Whole-30 compliant French Onion Soup, you must omit the bread and the cheese. While this does change the character of the dish somewhat, the rich flavor of the caramelized onions and broth will still make for a satisfying soup.

    • Vegan/Vegetarian

    Substitute the beef broth with a robust vegetable broth and use vegan cheese or nutritional yeast instead of traditional cheese for the topping. Ensure the bread is vegan as well.

    Onion Soup

    The Best Onions For French Onion Soup

    Regarding French Onion Soup, choosing the proper onions is essential to achieve that perfect balance of flavor and sweetness. While different types of onions can be used, certain varieties are particularly well-suited for this classic dish.

    One of the most commonly recommended onions for French Onion Soup is the yellow onion. The yellow onion adds depth and richness to the soup with its pungent and slightly sweet flavor. Its high sulfur content contributes to the caramelization process, resulting in those beautifully browned and tender onions.

    Another popular choice is the red onion. Known for its vibrant hue and milder flavor than yellow onions, the red onion can lend a subtle sweetness to the soup. It also retains its color during cooking, adding visual appeal to the dish.

    If you prefer a sweeter flavor profile, you can opt for Vidalia onions or Walla Walla onions. These varieties are known for their high sugar content and mild flavor, making them a delightful choice for French Onion Soup. They caramelize beautifully and lend a touch of sweetness to balance out the savory elements.

    Ultimately, the choice of onions depends on personal preference. Some cooks even combine different onion varieties to achieve a unique flavor profile. Whether you go for the classic yellow onion or experiment with sweeter alternatives, selecting fresh and high-quality onions will ensure the best results in your French Onion Soup, elevating it to new heights of deliciousness.

    Recipe Directions

    Yield: 4-6 servings

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

    Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

    Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make French Onion Soup for 4-6 servings:

    Prepare Your Pot

    • Use a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot over low heat.

    Caramelize Onions

    • Add oil and butter, then onions. Cook for 1 hour until soft and sweet, but not brown.

    Season Onions

    • Add kosher salt and sugar. Cook for another 15 minutes.

    Add Vinegar

    • Pour in vinegar and cook for 5 minutes to balance flavors.

    Incorporate Flour

    • Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute to thicken the soup.

    Add Liquids

    • Pour in wine to deglaze, then add beef stock.

    Simmer Soup

    • Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes to meld flavors.

    Season Soup

    • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and cover.

    Prepare Bread and Cheese

    • Toast French bread slices, rub with garlic, and top with Gruyère cheese.
    • Broil until the cheese is melted and golden.

    Serve Soup

    • Ladle hot soup into bowls.
    • Top with cheese-covered croutons.
    • Serve hot and enjoy!
    Onion Soup

    Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings

    French onion soup is a classic dish with a well-established recipe, but there’s always room for personal touches. Here are some optional add-ons that could enhance or alter the flavors:

    • Different Cheeses: While Gruyère is traditional, you could try using other types of cheese that melt well, like fontina, provolone, or even a sharp white cheddar.
    • Alcohol: Some people enjoy adding a splash of cognac, brandy, or sherry to the soup along with the wine for added depth of flavor.
    • Herbs and Spices: A sprig of fresh rosemary or a bit of sage could offer a new dimension to the soup. A pinch of nutmeg or allspice could add some warmth and complexity.
    • Garlic: Rubbing a cut clove of garlic on the toasted bread before adding it to the soup can give an extra flavor boost.
    • Mushrooms: Adding some finely chopped sautéed mushrooms to the soup can provide a pleasant texture contrast and deepen the savory flavors.
    • Croutons: Instead of a single slice of bread, you could top your soup with several smaller croutons.
    • Roasted Garlic or Onion: Roasting an onion or a head of garlic and then adding it to the soup while it simmers can add a deeper, more caramelized flavor.

    Scaling The Recipe

    Soup recipes can generally be scaled up or down relatively quickly to accommodate more or fewer servings. Here are some things to consider:

    Scaling Up

    • Pot Size: Ensure that your pot is large enough to handle the increased volume of soup.
    • Cooking Time: While the preparation steps remain the same, the cooking time may need to be slightly adjusted. For instance, a larger volume of soup might take longer to bring to a boil.
    • Ingredient Ratios: Maintain the same ratios of ingredients when you scale up. If a soup recipe calls for 2 onions and 4 cups of broth for 4 servings, it would need 3 onions and 6 cups of broth for 6 servings.

    Scaling Down

    • Ingredient Ratios: As with scaling up, maintain the same ingredient ratios when scaling down.
    • Cooking Time: Smaller quantities usually cook quicker, so be sure to monitor your soup to prevent it from overcooking.
    • Storing Ingredients: If scaling down a recipe leaves you with leftover ingredients, plan how to store them. Some ingredients, like broth, can be frozen for future use.
    • Portion Sizes: Remember that smaller portions may cool down faster, so serve immediately after cooking or keep it warm until serving.

    What Is Used For Garnishing?

    French Onion Soup is traditionally garnished in a unique way that is integral to its character and appeal. Rather than sprinkling something at the end, the garnish is a slice or two of crusty bread topped with cheese, then broiled until melted and bubbly. Here are the traditional garnishing steps:

    • Bread: A slice of toasted French baguette is often used. The bread is toasted until it’s crisp and golden, then placed directly on top of the soup.
    • Cheese: Gruyère is the traditional choice due to its excellent melting properties and its nutty, slightly sweet flavor. The cheese is generously grated or sliced over the bread, completely covering it.
    • Broiling: The soup bowls are then placed under the broiler until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and golden in spots. This step gives the soup its characteristic “au gratin” finish.

    Although the bread and cheese are the traditional garnishes, some variations may include a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves or freshly cracked black pepper on top of the cheese before broiling for extra flavor. Please remember to use oven-safe bowls when broiling the soup.

    Can I Make Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

    Both a slow cooker and an Instant Pot can be excellent tools for making French Onion Soup. Here are the essential adaptations you would need to make:

    Slow Cooker

    • Start by caramelizing your onions in a pan on the stove as you normally would. This essential step develops the rich, sweet flavor that is the hallmark of French Onion Soup.
    • Once your onions are caramelized, transfer them to your slow cooker along with the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and broth.
    • Set your slow cooker to low and let it cook for about 6-8 hours. This slow, gentle cooking will allow the flavors to meld beautifully.
    • Before serving, prepare your bread by toasting it, then topping it with cheese and broiling it until melted. Add this to the individual bowls of soup right before serving.

    Instant Pot

    • Use the sauté function on the Instant Pot to caramelize your onions, adding in the garlic, bay leaves, and thyme towards the end.
    • Once your onions are caramelized, add your broth to the Instant Pot, close the lid, and set the pressure to high. Cook for about 20 minutes.
    • After the cooking time is up, use the quick-release function to release the pressure.
    • Prepare your bread by toasting it, topping it with cheese, and broiling it until it is melted. As with the slow cooker version, add this to the individual soup bowls right before serving.

    Can I Use Store Bought Broth Or Should I Make My Own?

    While making your broth for French Onion Soup would undoubtedly give you a richer and deeper flavor, using store-bought broth is perfectly fine, especially when time or resources are limited. Here are some considerations:

    Store-Bought Broth


    • Convenience: It’s ready to use, saving you the time and effort of making your own.
    • Consistency: The flavor and saltiness are consistent, which can help ensure predictable results.


    • Less Flavorful: It may lack the depth and richness of homemade broth.
    • Preservatives: Some brands contain preservatives or additives, which some people prefer to avoid.
    • Sodium Content: Store-bought versions can be high in sodium. Look for a low-sodium version if you’re watching your salt intake.

    Homemade Broth


    • Flavor: Homemade broth is usually more flavorful and richer than store-bought.
    • Control: You have complete control over the ingredients and the sodium level.
    • No Preservatives: There are no preservatives or artificial ingredients in homemade broth.


    • Time-Consuming: It can take several hours to make homemade broth.
    • Inconsistent: The flavor may vary each time you make it, depending on the bones and vegetables used.

    Can I Use Different Types Of Meat/Fish/Pasta/Vegetables Etc For The Soup?

    French Onion Soup is traditionally made with caramelized onions, beef broth, bread, and cheese. However, part of the fun in cooking is playing around with recipes and making them your own. Here are a few ways you might be able to incorporate seafood, pasta, or additional vegetables into your French Onion Soup:

    • Seafood: While it’s uncommon to see seafood in French Onion Soup, you could add some for a unique twist. Shrimp or crab could provide a nice contrast to the rich, sweet soup. Just make sure to add the seafood near the end of cooking to prevent it from becoming overcooked. Consider using a seafood broth instead of beef broth to tie the flavors together.
    • Pasta: Small types of pasta, such as ditalini or orzo, could be added to French Onion Soup to make it heartier. Cook the pasta separately, then add it to the soup just before serving to prevent it from becoming too soft. Remember that pasta will absorb some broth, so you may need to adjust your liquid quantities.
    • Vegetables: Additional vegetables could undoubtedly be added to French Onion Soup, although it might change the dish’s characteristic flavor. Consider vegetables that would complement the sweet, rich flavors of the soup, such as leeks, celery, or carrots. These can be added in the beginning stages of cooking when the onions are being caramelized.
    Onion Soup

    Success Tips – Tips And Tricks For Making The Soup

    The tips and tricks are categorized as requested:

    Prepping Tips

    • Onion Selection: Choose yellow or white onions for their sweet flavor profile. Sweet onions also work well.
    • Slicing Onions: Slice the onions thinly and consistently to ensure even cooking.
    • Grating Cheese: Grate the cheese yourself for the freshest flavor and best melt. Pre-shredded cheese often contains additives to prevent clumping, which can affect the texture when melted.

    Cooking Time Tips

    • Caramelizing Onions: This is the heart of French Onion Soup. Be patient and cook the onions slowly until they’re deeply caramelized. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, but it’s worth it for the rich, sweet flavor it develops.
    • Simmering the Soup: Once all the ingredients are combined, let the soup simmer for a reasonable time. This allows all the flavors to meld together.
    • Broiling the Bread and Cheese: Watch closely when broiling the cheese-topped bread – it can go from melted to burned quickly. The goal is a nice, bubbly golden top.

    Ingredients Tips

    • Use Quality Broth: Whether you’re using beef or vegetable broth, make sure it’s good quality, as it’s one of the primary flavors in the soup. Homemade is best, but a good quality store-bought broth works too.
    • Choose the Right Cheese: Traditional French Onion Soup uses Gruyère, which melts well and has a deliciously nutty flavor. If you can’t find Gruyère, you can substitute it with Swiss or Emmental cheese.
    • Wine Selection: The wine adds acidity and depth to the soup. Like a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, a dry white wine works well. If you don’t consume alcohol, you can substitute the wine with additional broth and a splash of vinegar for acidity.

    Best Broth For The Soup

    The choice of broth can significantly influence the flavor of your French onion soup. A good quality broth will infuse the soup with depth and complexity, complementing the caramelized onions and making the soup rich and satisfying.

    Traditionally, French onion soup is made with beef broth, which gives the soup a robust, savory flavor. Using a high-quality beef broth, preferably homemade or a high-end store-bought version, can make a big difference in the overall taste of the soup.

    However, a well-flavored vegetable broth can also work well if you’re making a vegetarian version of the soup. For a well-rounded flavor profile, look for a vegetable broth with a good balance of flavors, one made with a mix of hearty root vegetables and fresh herbs.

    Another option is to use chicken broth. While it’s not as traditional as beef broth, it can still provide a delicious result. Chicken broth tends to have a lighter, less intense flavor than beef broth, so it might allow the flavor of the caramelized onions to shine through more prominently.

    Regardless of the type of broth you choose, make sure it’s of good quality. The broth forms the base of the soup, and since French onion soup has relatively few ingredients, the quality of each one can significantly impact the final result.

    Best Cheese For Soup

    The best and most traditionally used cheese for French Onion Soup is Gruyère. Gruyère cheese is a hard Swiss cheese known for its rich, slightly sweet, and nutty flavor. It also melts beautifully and browns nicely under the broiler, creating a delicious, bubbly crust on top of the soup.

    If Gruyère isn’t available, several other types of cheese can work well:

    • Emmental: Another Swiss cheese that melts well and has a sweet and slightly fruity flavor.
    • Comté: A French cheese with a nutty, slightly sweet flavor that is similar to Gruyère.
    • Fontina: This Italian cheese also melts well and has a mild, slightly nutty flavor.
    • Mozzarella: It doesn’t have the same flavor profile as Gruyère, but it does melt very well and could work in a pinch.

    Can You Caramelize The Soup?

    Caramelizing is a key step in the process of making French Onion Soup, but it’s the onions, not the soup itself, that are caramelized. Here’s how it works:

    Caramelizing onions involves cooking them slowly over low to medium heat until they become deeply browned, sweet, and richly flavored. This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour, depending on the quantity and thickness of the onions and the precise heat of your stove.

    This slow, gentle cooking process allows the natural sugars in the onions to gradually caramelize, transforming the onions from a raw, sharp flavor to a sweet, complex one. This caramelization process gives French Onion Soup its iconic depth of flavor.

    After the onions are caramelized, they’re deglazed, usually with wine, which lifts the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Then, the broth, herbs, and seasonings are added, and the soup is simmered to let the flavors meld together. 

    Finally, the soup is topped with a slice of crusty bread and a generous layer of cheese, then broiled until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

    french onions soup

    Nutritional Values

    French Onion Soup is high in Vitamin C (from the onions) and Calcium (from the cheese). It’s also a good source of Iron. However, it can be high in sodium, especially if you’re using pre-made broth or adding extra salt. As always, balancing indulgent meals like this with plenty of nutrient-dense, lower-calorie foods in your overall diet is essential.

    What Are The Total Calories In Soup? 

    The total calories in the soup can significantly vary depending on the ingredients used, the preparation method, and the serving size.

    For example, a cup (about 250 ml) of broth-based vegetable soup might contain as few as 80-100 calories. In contrast, a cream-based soup like clam chowder might have 200-250 calories per cup. 

    More complex soups, such as French onion soup with cheese, can contain upwards of 300-350 calories per cup, mainly due to the cheese and bread topping.

    It’s also important to consider the nutritional content beyond the calorie count. A soup might be higher in calories but also high in beneficial nutrients, such as protein and fiber, which can contribute to feelings of fullness and overall health.

    Dietary Restrictions For Soup

    French onion soup can be suitable or easily adaptable for various dietary preferences and restrictions, but there are certain factors to keep in mind:

    • Vegetarian/Vegan 

    Traditional French onion soup is not vegetarian or vegan because it typically contains beef broth and Gruyère cheese. However, the broth can be replaced with vegetable broth, and the cheese can be substituted with a vegetarian or vegan alternative.

    • Gluten-Free 

    The soup itself can be made gluten-free by ensuring that the broth used is gluten-free (some store-bought broths can contain gluten). The bread traditionally used as a topping would also need to be a gluten-free variety.

    • Dairy-Free/Lactose Intolerance 

    The butter used to caramelize the onions and the cheese topping would need to be replaced with lactose-free or non-dairy alternatives.

    • Low Sodium 

    French onion soup can be quite high in sodium, mainly if using store-bought broth. For a low-sodium version, use a low-sodium broth and limit additional salt.

    • Low Calorie/Weight Loss 

    French onion soup can be fairly calorie-dense, particularly with cheese-topped bread. For a lighter version, limit the amount of cheese used, consider a lighter broth (like vegetable or chicken), and opt for whole grain bread or skip the bread entirely.

    Health Benefits Of Soup

    Soup, especially when homemade with fresh ingredients, can provide a range of health benefits:

    • Hydration: Soup, being high in water content, is an excellent source of hydration. This is particularly important when you’re sick and need to keep hydrated but might not feel like drinking water.
    • Nutrient-Rich: Soups made with a variety of vegetables, lean meats, and legumes can provide a wide range of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber. This can support overall health and well-being.
    • Weight Management: Soup can be a part of a healthy weight loss plan because it’s filling but typically low in calories. The high water and fiber content can keep you full longer, reducing your tendency to overeat.
    • Digestion: Many soups, especially broth-based ones, are easy on the stomach and can aid digestion. The liquid nature of soup can also help in easing the digestion process.
    • Immune System Boost: Certain soups, like the classic chicken soup, contain ingredients known to boost the immune system. Ingredients like garlic, onion, chicken, and various herbs and spices are all good for you when you feel under the weather.
    • Convenience:Soups can be easily prepared, made in large batches, and stored well. They can be a convenient option to ensure a nutritious meal is ready when needed.
    • Versatility: Soups can be adapted to suit dietary restrictions or preferences. They can be made vegetarian or vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, low sodium, etc.

    Nutrition Table

    French Onion Nutrition

    Substitutes For French Onion Soup

    Several substitutions can be made to the classic French onion soup recipe. Some substitutions that can be made to the French Onion Soup recipe for various dietary preferences:

    Vegan Substitutions

    • Cheese: Use a vegan cheese substitute that melts well. Many varieties are available on the market, and some even have flavors similar to Gruyère.
    • Butter: Replace butter with vegan margarine or use additional olive oil.
    • Beef Stock: Use vegetable or vegan “beef” flavored stock if available.

    Vegetarian Substitutions

    The traditional French Onion Soup recipe is usually suitable for vegetarians since it doesn’t contain meat, but it’s not suitable for vegans because of the cheese and butter. If your beef stock is not vegetarian, replace it with a good-quality vegetable stock.

    Gluten-Free Substitutions

    • Bread: Use gluten-free bread for the topping. There are many good-quality gluten-free breads available.
    • Flour: Replace the regular all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend. Use one that’s intended for general-purpose baking and doesn’t have a strong flavor.

    How Can I Make Soup Lower In Sodium?

    There are several ways to make French Onion Soup (or any soup, for that matter) lower in sodium:

    • Use Low-Sodium Broth: Opt for a low-sodium or no-sodium beef or vegetable broth.
    • Cut Back on Added Salt: While the recipe calls for salt, you can always reduce the amount or eliminate it entirely, especially if you’re using broth, which already contains sodium.
    • Avoid Salted Butter: Use unsalted butter for caramelizing the onions.
    • Cheese Selection: Choose a cheese lower in sodium. Swiss cheese tends to be lower in sodium than other cheeses. Alternatively, you can reduce the amount of cheese used.
    • Use Fresh Ingredients: Canned or preserved foods usually contain a higher amount of sodium. Using fresh onions and homemade broth can help reduce the sodium level.
    • Add More Herbs and Spices: Increase the flavors with fresh herbs and spices to compensate for the lower salt content. Thyme, bay leaves, or ground black pepper can add depth to the soup’s flavor.

    How Can I Make The Soup Lower In Sugar?

    The sugar in French Onion Soup primarily comes from the natural sugars present in the onions and the added sugar used to aid in caramelization. Here’s how you can reduce sugar content:

    • Reduce Added Sugar: While some sugar helps speed up the caramelization process, you can limit or even omit it. The onions will still caramelize from their natural sugars; it might take longer.
    • Select Onions Wisely: Some onions have lower sugar content than others. For example, yellow onions typically have less sugar than sweet onions, so choose accordingly.
    • Balsamic Vinegar: can add a sweet and tangy flavor to your soup. If you’re concerned about sugar, use it sparingly or look for a low-sugar variety.
    • Bread & Cheese Topping: Consider using smaller amounts of the bread and cheese topping, as these can also contribute to the sugar content. Alternatively, choose a low-sugar bread option.
    soup recipe

    How To Serve The Tomato Soup In The Best Way?

    Serving French Onion Soup can be a part of a memorable dining experience if done correctly. Here are some tips for serving it in the best possible way:

    • Use Oven-Safe Bowls: French Onion Soup is traditionally served in individual oven-safe bowls or crocks. This allows the soup to be broiled right before serving, giving the cheese on top a delightful, crispy, golden crust.
    • Garnish: While not required, you can garnish the soup with a sprinkle of fresh thyme, parsley, or chives to add a touch of color and fresh flavor.
    • Serve Hot: French Onion Soup is best served right after broiling the cheese. Be careful, as the bowl will be hot.
    • Serving Utensils: Provide soup spoons and extra napkins, as French Onion Soup can be a bit messy due to the melted cheese topping.
    • Pairings: The soup is often served as a starter for a main course, but it can also be a meal on its own. Pair it with a fresh side salad or a hearty sandwich for a complete meal. A glass of white or red wine (like a Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon) that complements the rich flavors of the soup could also be a great addition.
    • Bread: If you’re not using bread as a topping, consider serving a warm, crusty baguette on the side. The bread is perfect for soaking up the flavorful broth.

    Perfect Side Dishes To Complement French Onion Recipe 

    French onion soup is hearty and rich and pairs well with lighter, refreshing side dishes. Here are some suggestions:

    • Salad: A crisp green salad with a tangy vinaigrette can help cut through the soup’s richness. A classic French salad with frisée lettuce, Dijon mustard vinaigrette, and perhaps a few lardons or a poached egg would be particularly appropriate.
    • Roasted Vegetables: Lightly seasoned and roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, asparagus, or bell peppers can complement the soup well.
    • Bread: Although the soup itself often comes with a slice of bread on top, a side of fresh, crusty French bread can be an excellent addition for those who love to dunk their bread in the soup.
    • Quiche: A slice of a light quiche, perhaps with a vegetable filling, can pair nicely with the soup for a more substantial meal.
    • Cheese Plate: A small selection of French cheeses, with some grapes or apple slices, could be an excellent way to continue the French theme of the meal.
    • Charcuterie Board: A small charcuterie board with a selection of cured meats can provide a salty counterpoint to the sweet and rich soup.
    • Fruit: For a light finish, serve some fresh fruit, like a refreshing citrus salad or a simple apple or pear sliced.

    Tips For Perfect Taste Of Soup

    The taste of French onion soup largely depends on the quality of your ingredients and the cooking methods you employ. Here are some taste tips to get the most out of this classic dish:

    • Caramelizing the Onions: This is the most crucial step. Cook the onions slowly on low heat until deeply browned, which may take up to an hour. This process brings out their natural sweetness and creates the rich, complex flavor base that defines French onion soup.
    • Choose Your Broth Wisely: Use a high-quality beef broth for the most traditional and robust flavor. If you prefer a lighter flavor or are making a vegetarian version, use a rich vegetable or chicken broth.
    • Deglaze with Wine: Use a good-quality dry white or red wine to deglaze the pan after caramelizing the onions. This helps lift the flavorful bits stuck to the pan, adding depth to the soup. If you prefer not to use alcohol, you can deglaze with a bit of broth instead.
    • Seasoning: Be sure to season your soup correctly. Besides salt and pepper, consider using fresh thyme, bay leaf, or a splash of brandy or sherry for additional flavor.
    • The Cheese: Choose a cheese that melts well and has a bold flavor. Traditional French onion soup is topped with Gruyère, but you can also use Comté, Emmental, or a blend of cheeses. The cheese should be broiled until it’s bubbly and slightly browned.
    • The Bread: Use a thick slice of crusty bread or a baguette, toasted until golden, to place on top of the soup before adding the cheese. The bread soaks up the soup and adds a satisfying texture contrast.
    • Finishing Touches: For a burst of fresh flavor, consider adding a sprinkle of fresh parsley or a dash of high-quality extra virgin olive oil when serving.

    How Is The Soup Considered Good?

    French Onion Soup is considered “good” or even “great” for many reasons, which may vary from person to person. Here are a few reasons why it’s generally regarded as a beloved dish:

    • Flavor Profile: The soup has a rich, savory, and slightly sweet flavor profile that comes from caramelized onions, flavorful broth, and melted cheese. These elements come together to create a harmony of flavors that’s hard to resist.
    • Comfort Food: It’s widely regarded as comfort food. The warm, hearty nature of the soup makes it particularly enjoyable during cold weather or when you need something cozy and satisfying.
    • Texture Contrast: The soup offers a variety of textures, from the soft and slightly sweet onions to the melted cheese and the crunch of the toasted bread on top.
    • Versatility: French Onion Soup can be a starter, a main course, or a late-night dish, making it versatile for various meal plans.
    • Culinary Tradition: It’s a classic dish with a long history in French cuisine. Many people appreciate it for its traditional preparation and time-tested appeal.
    • Nutritional Value: Onions are packed with antioxidants and other healthy compounds. When made with a good quality broth, this soup can be a nutritious part of a balanced diet.

    Storage And Repurposing Of Soup

    Store the soup base separately from the cheese-topped bread for French Onion Soup. You can prepare the soup base in advance, store it, and then reheat it when ready to serve, adding the bread and cheese topping just before broiling.

    How Long Can We Store The Soup?

    Storing soup properly is crucial to maintaining its freshness, flavor, and safety. Here’s how to store your French Onion Soup or other types of soup:

    • Cooling the Soup: It’s essential to let the soup cool before storing it to prevent the growth of bacteria. You can speed up this process by placing the pot in an ice bath and stirring the soup to disperse the heat. However, don’t leave the soup to cool at room temperature for more than two hours to avoid food safety risks.
    • Reheating the Soup: When ready to serve, reheat the soup on the stove over medium heat until it’s hot and steaming. If reheating from frozen, it’s best to thaw the soup in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

    How Long Does Soup Typically Last In The Refrigerator?

    After cooling the soup to room temperature, store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. It should last for about 3 to 5 days. Be sure to store any bread or cheese toppings separately to prevent them from becoming soggy.

    Can You Make Soup In Advance?

    French Onion Soup is actually a great dish to make in advance. Here’s why:

    • Flavor Development: The caramelized onions and broth flavors can meld together and intensify when the soup is made ahead of time, creating a more robust taste.
    • Convenience: Making it in advance allows you to have a ready meal on hand for quick and easy dinners or when guests come over.

    To make French Onion Soup in advance, follow the recipe until before adding the bread and cheese topping. Allow the soup to cool completely, then store it in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container.

    When you’re ready to serve, reheat the soup on the stove. While the soup is reheating, toast your bread and prepare your cheese. Once the soup is hot, transfer it into oven-safe bowls, add your toasted bread, sprinkle with cheese, and broil until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.

    french onion soup recipe

    What Can Be Done With Leftover Soup? 

    Leftover French Onion Soup can be reheated and enjoyed as is, but if you’re interested in changing things up, here are a few creative ideas:

    • French Onion Pasta: Toss the leftover soup with cooked pasta, top with extra cheese, and bake until bubbly for a comforting pasta bake.
    • French Onion Dip: Reduce the soup on the stove until most liquid evaporates. Combine with cream cheese for a flavorful dip for chips or veggies.
    • Savory French Onion Bread Pudding: Replace the milk or cream in a bread pudding recipe with equal soup. Add sautéed vegetables or cooked meat if desired.
    • French Onion Risotto: Use the leftover soup instead of some of the broth in a risotto recipe. The onions and cheese will add extraordinary flavor to the risotto.
    • Sauce for Protein: Reduce the soup until thick and use it as a sauce for grilled or roasted meats.
    • French Onion Grilled Cheese: Use the onions and cheese from the soup as a filling for a grilled cheese sandwich. You can dip the sandwich in the leftover broth.
    • Stuffed Vegetables: Use the soup to cook rice or quinoa, then use the mixture to stuff vegetables like bell peppers or zucchini.

    Can We Freeze Soup For Later? 

    If you want to store your soup for extended periods, you can freeze it. Soup can generally be frozen for 2-3 months. Use freezer-safe containers or bags, leaving some space at the top as soup tends to expand when frozen.

    Reheating And Repurposing Of French Onion Soup

    French onion soup can be quite versatile when it comes to repurposing leftovers, and it reheats well too. Here are some tips:


    • Stovetop: Pour the soup into a pot and warm it over medium heat until hot. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning at the bottom.
    • Oven: If your leftovers include the bread and cheese topping, reheat the soup in the oven to restore the crunchy and bubbly cheese surface. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), place your soup in an oven-safe dish, and heat until it’s hot and the cheese is bubbly again.
    • Microwave: You can also reheat the soup in the microwave, but be aware that it will not stay crisp if it has cheese topping. Use a microwave-safe bowl, cover it with a microwave-safe lid or plate, and heat in short intervals, stirring occasionally, until hot.


    • Bread Bowl: If you have a round loaf of bread, hollow it out and fill it with reheated French onion soup for a fun and hearty lunch.
    • Casserole: Consider using the soup as a base for a casserole. For example, mix it with cooked pasta, top with cheese, and bake until bubbly and golden.
    • Roasts or Stews: Use the soup as a flavorful base for slow-cooked roasts or stews. It will add a rich onion flavor.
    • Gratin: Use it as a sauce for a potato or vegetable gratin.
    french onion soup recipe

    Special Tools Needed For Cooking

    While you don’t need any highly specialized equipment to make French Onion Soup, a few key kitchen tools can make the process smoother:

    • Good Quality Chef’s Knife: To efficiently slice the onions. A sharp knife can make this task faster and easier.
    • Cutting Board: Essential for slicing the onions.
    • Large Heavy-Bottomed Pot or Dutch Oven: To caramelize the onions and simmer the soup. A heavy-bottomed pot will distribute heat evenly, preventing the onions from burning.
    • Wooden Spoon: To stir the onions while they’re caramelizing and to scrape the flavorful bits off the bottom of the pot.
    • Cheese Grater: To grate the Gruyère cheese for the topping.
    • Oven-Safe Soup Bowls: Since the soup needs to go under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese, you’ll need bowls that can withstand high oven temperatures.
    • Baking Sheet: To hold the soup bowls under the broiler. It’s much safer and easier to remove a hot baking sheet from the oven than to try to handle individual hot soup bowls.
    • Ladle: To serve the soup in the bowls.

    Pros And Cons Of The Soup

    French onion soup is a beloved classic in the world of comfort foods, but like all dishes, it has its pros and cons.


    • Flavorful: The caramelization process used in making French onion soup results in a sweet, savory, and intensely delicious base, making it a deliciously satisfying dish.
    • Ingredients: The soup is made from simple ingredients like onions, broth, bread, and cheese, which are usually easy to find and affordable.
    • Versatile: It can be served as an appetizer, a side dish, or even a main course.
    • Nutritious: Onions are a great source of vitamins and antioxidants, and you can also choose a high-quality broth for added nutrients.


    • Time-consuming: The process of caramelizing onions properly can take time, sometimes up to an hour or more, which might be better for those looking for a quick meal.
    • Nutrition: Although nutritious, French onion soup can be high in sodium, mainly if the store-bought broth is used. Additionally, the cheese and bread topping, while delicious, can increase the calorie count.
    • Vegetarian/Vegan Unfriendly: Traditionally, the soup is made with beef broth and topped with cheese, making it unsuitable for vegetarians or vegans. However, there are alternative versions that use vegetable broth and vegan cheese.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Type Of Onions Should I Use For French Onion Soup?

    Yellow or sweet onions are generally recommended due to their naturally sweet flavor, which is amplified when caramelized. However, you can experiment with other varieties for different flavor profiles.

    Can I Make French Onion Soup Without Alcohol?

    Yes, the wine in the recipe is used to deglaze the pan and add depth to the flavor, but it can be substituted with non-alcoholic wine or additional broth.

    Why Does It Take So Long To Caramelize Onions?

    The process of caramelizing onions involves slowly cooking them to draw out their natural sugars and develop a deep, sweet, and complex flavor. Rushing this process can result in uneven cooking or burning.

    Is French Onion Soup Suitable For Vegetarians Or Vegans?

    Traditional French onion soup uses beef broth and cheese, so it’s unsuitable for vegetarians or vegans. However, you can substitute vegetable broth for beef broth and use vegan cheese to make it fit these dietary requirements.

    Can I Freeze French Onion Soup?

    Yes, you can freeze the soup base. However, adding the bread and cheese topping fresh when you’re ready to serve the soup is recommended.

    Why Is My French Onion Soup Too Sweet?

    If your soup is too sweet, it might be because the onions were caramelized too much or a sweet variety of onions was used. Balance the sweetness by adding a bit more salt or some acidic component, like vinegar or wine.

    Classic French Onion Soup Recipe To Cherish The Crunchy Taste

    Classic French Onion Soup Recipe To Cherish The Crunchy Taste

    5 from 7 votes
    Recipe by Hanna Barnes Course: Soup Recipes


    Prep time


    Cooking time







    French onion soup is a beloved classic that tantalizes the taste buds with its rich and comforting flavors. Caramelized onions take center stage, creating a sweet and savory base that is complemented by a hearty beef broth.


    • Onions

    • Butter and Olive Oil

    • Flour

    • White Wine

    • Broth

    • Herbs

    • Bread

    • Cheese

    • Salt and Pepper

    Step-By-Step Directions

    • Prepare Your Pot
      Begin by taking a Dutch oven or a heavy stockpot and setting it over low heat. This will provide the perfect environment for slowly caramelizing your onions.
    • Caramelize Onions
      Add your oil and butter to the pot, letting them melt together. Once they’ve heated up, add your onions. Stir them frequently and allow them to cook for about 1 hour. During this time, the onions will become very soft, releasing their inherent sweetness, but they should not start to brown.
    • Season Onions
      After an hour, add in your kosher salt and sugar. The salt will help further break down the onions, while the sugar will aid in caramelization. Let this cook for another 15 minutes.
    • Add Vinegar
      Next, pour in your vinegar and cook for 5 minutes. The acidity from the vinegar will balance out the sweetness of the onions.
    • Incorporate Flour
      Now, it’s time to stir in your flour. Cook this mixture for about 1 minute until the flour has been fully incorporated and begins to bubble. This will help to thicken your soup slightly.
    • Incorporate Flour
      Now, it’s time to stir in your flour. Cook this mixture for about 1 minute until the flour has been fully incorporated and begins to bubble. This will help to thicken your soup slightly.
    • Simmer Soup
      Raise the heat to medium, bringing the soup to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes. This will allow all the flavors to meld together.
    • Season Soup
      Now it’s time to season to taste with salt and pepper. If you’re using homemade stock, you’ll likely need a significant amount of both to bring out the full flavors of the soup. Once seasoned to your liking, remove the soup from the heat and set it aside, covered. 
      If you’re not serving it immediately, let the soup cool completely before refrigerating or freezing. Make sure to reheat the soup before serving.
    • Prepare Bread And Cheese
      Turn on your oven’s broiler. Cut your French bread into 1/2-inch slices and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast them briefly until they’re lightly browned. Remove the bread from the oven and rub the toasted sides with a garlic clove for a hint of garlic flavor. 
      Flip the bread over, and top each slice with some Gruyère cheese. Place the baking sheet under the broiler until the cheese is beautifully melted.
    • Serve Soup
      To serve, ladle the hot soup into individual bowls. Top each bowl with one or two of the cheese-covered croutons, ensuring a delightful crunch and melty cheese in every bite. Serve the soup hot, and enjoy!
      Cooking times can vary based on the specific heat of your stove and the type of pot you’re using, so it’s always best to check and adjust as needed. Enjoy your homemade French onion soup!


    • French onion soup is a timeless and popular dish.
    • It is characterized by its caramelized onions, which add a sweet and savory flavor.
    • The soup is traditionally made with a rich beef broth, but vegetarian versions are also available.
    • It is often topped with melted cheese, such as Gruyère or Swiss, which adds a creamy and gooey texture.
    • French onion soup is typically served with toasted bread, which provides a satisfying crunch.
    • The combination of flavors and textures makes it a comforting and satisfying dish.
    • It is commonly enjoyed as an appetizer or light meal.
    • French onion soup has a long history in French cuisine and continues to be a beloved classic worldwide.
    Hanna Barnes

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