How To Make French Onion Soup


I’ve tried French onion soup in a few restaurants but I never liked it. Probably because I tried it at chain places that used frozen or dehydrated. But from what’s in it — beef broth and roasted onions — this is something I should just love.

So I decided to make some for myself and see. And, surprise, when made with real ingredients … this stuff is good.

(But I still need a good copycat recipe for onion soup mix to use in recipes, like dip. Oh, and while you’re here, you might want to check out my Pizza Soup.)


090125-171018_Lg4-5 large onions, about 4 pounds, red and/or sweet
2-4 sprigs fresh thyme
3-5 bay leaves (oops, forgot them in the photo)
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
flour, about 1/4 cup (see note below)
1-2 cups wine
8 ounces beef broth


I decided to make this because I had a container of beef broth in the freezer. I had kept the drippings from the Christmas rib roast, the pot roast, every time I cooked beef for a month it went into the freezer. You can do it with canned beef broth, but try to find one with as few additives as possible.

Start by prepping the onions. Cut off both ends and cut them in half.

090125-171604_Lg 090125-171621_Lg

Peel the outer layer, then cut into thin strips.

090125-171653_Lg 090125-171724_Lg

Melt a few tablespoons of butter or fat (I’m using bacon fat) in a dutch oven over medium heat.


Add the onion, minced garlic, bay leaves and thyme and set heat to medium-low.

090125-173622_Lg 090125-173657_Lg
090125-173736_Lg 090125-173816_Lg

Cook until the onions start to turn translucent without mixing them.


Oops, forgot to add salt and pepper.

090125-175033_Lg 090125-175048_Lg

Turn the onions a few times to make sure everything gets some time on the bottom to caramelize. Don’t worry too much about burning the onions. All that burned on goodness is going to be pure flavor. That’s what the wine is for. Use it to scrape up everything off the bottom, then cook the onions for several minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the wine is cooked off.

090125-180321_Lg 090125-180331_Lg

Some people insist it has to be white. Some insist it has to be red. Since I’m not a wine drinker, I don’t really have a preference. So I used the bottle that was open.

The thyme and bay leaves should have given up all their flavor by now, so go ahead and fish them out.


Add a little flour to the onions and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until the dry flour taste is cooked out.


Start with just enough flour to just coat the onions lightly, only a couple of tablespoons. Hold the rest in reserve until you add the broth and see if it has thickened enough, or if it needs more.

Now add the beef broth. Since mine was very concentrated, I did four ounces of broth and four ounces of water.

090125-181304_Lg 090125-181337_Lg

Simmer for another 20 minutes to a half-hour to reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavor. Ladle into oven safe bowls and add croutons to the top.


The croutons are to keep the cheese from sinking. Lots of recipes call for gruyere, which is crazy expensive. I like a slice of swiss and a slice of provolone.


Put the baking sheet with the bowls on it under the broiler for a couple of minutes* until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown on the edges.


* NOTE: When I said “a couple of minutes” I forgot that not everyone has used the broiler before. MissFoxxy left hers in a little too long and discovered you can set cheese on fire. Don’t walk away from it, and check frequently.

Be careful, the cheese will hold the heat in really well, so it’s going to stay hot until you dig in.


Try not to eat all the cheese in the first four bites.


And that’s it.

Like I said up top, I’m still looking for a good copycat recipe for dehydrated onion soup mix. There are a ton of great recipes that call for a packet of it, but have you seen the ingredients on that stuff? [shudder]

If you’ve got a recipe for it that doesn’t include beef bouillon cubes, which are just as bad, please let me know in the comments.


  1. This is on my list of things to try–both making and eating. But the MiL insists that it’s not worth making unless I have homemade beef broth for it. So first I have to dig out the soup bones and make broth, and only THEN can I make this soup. I haven’t gotten up the energy for it yet.

    P.S. I really like that oval pot you have. I really want an oval pot.

  2. OK, now I know what to make the next time I cook for my mom. She always orders French Onion soup when we go out. I will also try it with some of my family’s cheese. Also, would you think there is an onion TOO sweet for this? Could you use a Vidalia, or Walla Walla for this recipe?


  3. Kristin, I’ve still got a quart of turkey broth from Thanksgiving in the freezer, along with two chicken carcasses. I’ve got a day of broth making in my future, too.

    P.S. That oval pot is the Magnalite Classic 15-Inch Oval Covered Roaster. Holy crap that thing’s expensive! Wait, do I have the 18-Inch version? Either way, thank you Great-Aunt Nora.

    Stephanie, I used half Texas sweets. Only because there were no Vidalias in the store. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Walla Wallas around here. Whatever you use is going to be so sweet after cooking down you could probably start with bulk yellow onions and it would taste the same.

  4. Drew,
    As always, GREAT !!!!!
    As for the “dip”, why couldn’t you take some of the onion soup and reduce it down to a concentrate and use that as your flavoring for the dip?
    You sure wouldn’t have all the salt and chemicals in it as you would with the onion soup mix.

  5. French Onion Soup is fabulous! And it really is not that difficult to make. Beginners should try canned beef consomme which is a great substitute if you don’t want to spend the day making beef stock for your first attempt with this soup.

    And the cheese… yes, Gruyere is expensive and so I also use regular or baby Swiss. I like to combine it with Muenster and/or provolone.

    Croutons? I don’t see croutons or toasts in your ingredients! I like a baguette sliced and toasted with a little garlic rubbed on while hot.

    Drew, are you sure you wanted to use the word “burned” in regard to caramelizing your onion?

    The pictures were fabulous, as usual, and I’m drooling! This is one of my all-time favorites.

  6. Frank, I might give that a try. Maybe store it the way I do pesto, by freezing it in an ice cube tray, then popping the cubes into a zip-top bag.

    Barb, oops, you’re right! I usually do the ingredients list based on what’s in the photos, and you can see I forgot to shoot the croutons. I’ll add that shortly.

  7. Stephanie says:

    Oh I can get Texas 1015s here (I should since I’m in freaking Texas) but my store has also had Vidalias.

  8. Drew, You answered a couple of my questions on making this soup work. I wonder if there is a way to get a delicious layer of cheese in the middle too. Thanks

  9. I will try this for sure! Living in Switzerland, gruyere isn’t expensive at all. In fact, you can get it everywhere from supermarkets to minimarkets. Plus there are many types of gruyere… :-)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Instead of wine, you could also deglaze with a dark beer. Guinness is usually the staple, but i hate it, so heineken or grolsch could also work… or really just whatever you have on hand.

  11. I’ve always used Sherry wine to deglaze the onions. I don’t think you could go wrong with your choice but it’s a great option.

  12. This is very similar to the recipe I use, except I have always used chicken stalk, not beef. It always comes out delicious!

  13. Sandi, I used a pretty shallow bowl. So there really wasn’t that much left after I finished the cheese. Even if you could put cheese in the middle, you wouldn’t be able to put it under the broiler.

    Sigge, I’m happy for you. But can you get Velveeta? Hah! You jealous now?

    Anon, I hadn’t thought about beer. I think I’ll do that next time.

    Nugget, I’m pretty sure my wife doesn’t drink sherry. So it’s unlikely we’d ever have any here.

    Anon, I did see a few recipes calling for chicken, or a mix of chicken and beef. But all my chicken and turkey stock is going into turkey soup.

  14. Angel Baby in '09 Wanted says:

    I hope you don’t mind me linking to this ~ and HOPE you get an update on the question you asked.


  15. My mouth is watering. The only thing different I would do is make sure that cheese bubbled all down the side of the bowl, too—hey, in Wisconsin, we can get pretty much all the cheese we want………
    Oh, I can imagine homemade beef broth would be the ticket……
    thanks for making this!!!!

  16. oh, do I get a cookbook now? :)

  17. Kathleen K. says:

    This is the best beef broth substitute. I buy it at my local supermarket. The soup looks very good.

  18. Shebrews, that’s how we used to serve it at the restaurant. If my bowls were smaller, or the cheese were larger, that’s how I’d have done it too. But I’m not going to add more cheese just to make it look cool, then have to scrape it all off when I’m done. I’m just that lazy.

    Oh, and did you request this recipe? I checked the requests page and I don’t see onion soup on there. Email me if I missed the request somewhere, I don’t have contact info for you.

  19. Kathleen, thanks for the tip. But have you checked out the ingredients on that? Ecch.

  20. im sorry, i am a chef or atleast on my way to becoming one. i know everyone cant be perfect or know how to do anything… but this is a complete mockery of a beautiful dish…. your telling them they can burn their onions…. you want to caramelize.. break down.. DEFINITELY NOT BURN.. also, not to criticize further.. but you want the onions to fit on the spoon as well as possible.. slice them much thinner then that. oh and why in the WORLD are you using the singer method (adding flour then liquid to thick) to this??? you dont want to thicken this soup! that is a terrible idea! you want to at most further reduce the broth, you do not thicken. period.. i would say a Julianne is what your looking for. this dish is capable of being simply breathtaking if you know what you are doing.

  21. Ouch, Shane. You are anal when it comes to recipes… I am very anal with grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word usage. Your / you’re are not interchangeable, etc.
    Sorry, Drew! Had to go there!
    P.S. What’s a “singer method”?

  22. Shane, I found a ton of variations when I researched the recipe. Several of them included the flour. And I’d say more than half said not to worry about burning. Bottom line is I liked this. If you’d like to share your version you could always post a link to it on your blog. I assume youhave a blog, I can’t tell since your profile is private. So until you have your own example to share … thanks for the feedback.

    Barb, I’m sure Kristin thanks you for the spellcheck.

  23. What about using a Veggie broth instead? My wife is a vegetarian and We found some vegetarian style french onion soup at costco which she says tastes great. But it’s slightly expensive. $13 for 6 servings. I bet that for $13 I could make some and get more than 6 servings out of it. I think basically what I am asking is how would I make a veggie broth to use instead?

  24. I have made wonderful French Onion soup using home-made beef broth (once you've done it, you'll never go back to anything else!). I have also had wonderful results with home-made chicken broth and home-made veggie broth. For the veggie broth, I save potato peels (white & sweet), onion bits, mushroom stems, all the veggie bits that I might not want to look at in a dish but don't really want to throw away. I put them in a baggie in the freezer. When I have enough, I throw them in a big pot with water & simmer away! Sort of a mix of "Frugal Gourmet" and "Vegetarian Epicure." Makes a flavorful, fat-free broth that I've used in all sorts of soups & stews.
    I use Jarlsberg Swiss often. Yummy. I also usually use vermouth instead of wine. My recipe calls for white, but I have used the red as well (not quite as much, and it has a sweetness to it, but it balances nicely with a good grind of black pepper!) I like my croutons made from toasted slices of a good, crusty baguette! I use whatever onions I have in the house and get them as dark as I can. I bit of burned onion is fine! If they're too light, the soup lacks depth of flavor & color (particularly important if you're using chicken or turkey broth). Sorry for being long, I just stumble on this site and this is my FAVORITE soup in the whole wide world!

  25. Joseph, looks like Diane’s got you covered.

    Diane, thanks for the veggie broth tip. I wouldn’t have known how to do it, since I’m definitely a meatetarian.

  26. Hmmmm it’s not FRENCH if you put ITALIAN cheese in it. Gruyere is an absolute. Take it from a French guy

  27. But Dave, isn’t Guyere, the cheese, named after Gueyeres, the town in Switzerland? And if I’m reading the Map correctly, it’s only about 20 miles farther from Italy than it is from France.

    Look out, man, I’ve got Google and I’m not afraid to use it.

  28. I’m laughing out loud! lol
    (Love Google Earth, myself)

  29. Hi,

    The only time that I had it was in my trip to Paris and until today I haven’t decided if I really like it or not.
    I know that it was ok, but I’d have to taste it again.
    It’s rare to find a restaurant here in Lisbon that makes it, in fact I can’t remember being to one doing it :-)

    Take care,


  30. Barb, the last time I installed Google Earth I spent the next week playing with it during every spare minute. I’m out of spare minutes, so I’m trying to avoid installing it again.

    José, I think there’s a lot of variation in how people make it. Some of the recipes I saw called for a lot of wine. I’m not a fan of really strong wine reductions, so I probably wouldn’t have liked those. The ones that stick more to the beef and onions, like what I did here, are definitely more my style.

  31. Mmm yeah… you see here, Mr. Kime, I’m at college right now and you, sir, are a jerk. Why? I mean it’s not like I know you or anything, but I’ve been wanting to make French onion soup for a while now and not having the luxuries of home is a slight problem. I stumbled upon this recipe and it’s a slap in my face. I don’t know when I’m going home next so you understand my dilemma now right? You’re a horrible person with your horribly delicious looking recipes (I bet they all taste TERRIBLE) just taunting me. Harassing me. Slapping me around like a red-headed step child. You disgust me. I will not take this abuse anymore.

    Yeah so I’ll be making this when I go home. I saw somewhere that burning the onions make them bitter? I don’t really care. I eat anything and cheese magically cures any ailing dish. Seriously. This kinda turned out to be longer than I expected but thanks for being awesome.

  32. Lish, you’re right, this was a terrible disappointment, and I only choked down three helpings of it so I could report on the whole sorry experience for you.

    Oh, and by the way, you do know you can probably smuggle a hotplate and a small toaster oven into the dorm, right? Or if microwaves are allowed, get a combination microwave/convection oven. They look like just plain microwaves, but they’re not. Not that I would ever recommend doing something like that, because it’s wrong. (And put an exhaust fan in an open window.)

  33. The funny thing is that my dorm has a kitchen in its basement, but I don’t exactly trust it. I like cooking at home with my dad (that way he’ll get in trouble if anything goes wrong). Also, I can freeze any leftovers if I’m at home… but if and when mine comes out as good as yours looks there won’t be any leftovers.

  34. robmilmel, that’s awesome, thanks! I haven’t tried it yet, but I will shortly.

    • hey drew i saw a recipe on foodnetwork or that called for dry onion soup mix but im not sure which going to try your recipe tonight.sounds really good thanks!

  35. Drew:

    I did indeed request a French Onion Soup recipe, however, I, perhaps didn’t go the required procedure. I searched the recipes and didn’t find one, so I emailed you and you wrote back that you had some beef broth frozen from Christmas, and that is was a great idea……so, I guess, since then, I learned that you wanted it in a comment section…..
    I love your recipes and have downloaded bunches of them. You cook like my gRandmother…….:)

    Can’t wait to try the Onion Soup, but will have the cheese dripping all over the plate—that’s the way I like it…….

  36. Found it! Okay, it’s on the way. Check your email.

  37. I love stumbleupon! It’s 12:30 in the morning, and I already can’t wait for the supermarket to open so I can buy all the ingredients… :)

    Hope you don’t mind, I’ve posted a link this recipe on my forum

  38. George Erdosh says:

    I also love a good French onion soup and, like you, I never had a really good one in a restaurant, however, I managed to get a recipe, supposedly a restaurants’ that makes a great one. I suggest not using either red or sweet onions–they are too high in sugar and make the soup too sweet. Standard yellow onion has more flavor in cooking, too. Try them next time.

    Check out my latest (Nov/08). It’s already getting great reviews:

    Tried and True Recipes from a Caterer’s Kitchen–Secrets of Making Great Foods

    On Amazon, etc.

  39. Mathew, and that’s why you love stumbleupon? Man, that’s why I absolutely hate it. It’s always showing me stuff I want but don’t have.

    George, thanks for confirming what I guessed at above. If my beef broth hadn’t been so … well, beefy, I think it would have been a bit too sweet. But yes, I’ll definitely go with at least half yellow onions next time.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Don’t worry about beef broth/stock – try this, as it’s fantastic,1308,RC.html

  41. Anon, I’m cheap, so I like the way restaurants do it. I just keep the scraps in the freezer until I have enough to make broth. I’ve never bought bones just to make stock. But the next time I do it, I’ll definitely try that recipe you linked.

  42. Anonymous says:

    This is the recipe I use, although if you have the time/ingredients I highly recommend using homemade broth.

    3 TBS butter, preferably unsalted
    5 or 6 med. sized onions, yellow or yellow/red mixed
    2-3 TBS all-purpose flour
    10 c. beef broth (I usually sub. 3-4 w/beef consomme)
    1/4 c. red wine, for deglacing the pan
    1/2 lb. Swiss-style cheese, Gruyere or Emmenthaler are best but Swiss works in a pinch.
    Slices of french bread, lightly toasted, 1 per serving

    I don’t make this as often as I should but have ALWAYS had great comments. Enjoy!

  43. Goodness this looks amazing. I love french onion soup and this recipe looks really easy to do. And oh so tasty. I am bookmarking it and adding to my shopping list! Great photos as well.

  44. Anon, how about you post that over on the forum. I’d love to get a good collection of user-submitted variations going.

    Marcie, the reason I made it is, except for the cheese, I already had everything I needed. I love recipes like that.

  45. I have a recipe from Cooks Illustrated that I enjoy. I kind of agree with shane about not burning the onions and the use of flour, but if the recipie works for you, then great.

    Tip: Cut the beef stock with half chicken broth. It eliminates the sour, sometimes metallic, taste of canned beef broth while maintaining good beef flavor (chicken stock tends to be a rather mild flavor).

  46. Anonymous says:

    Oh how you Americans like to bastardize things. finely grated Gruyere is essential to get a stringy texture and because of the way it grills.
    La vraie soupe à l’oignon

    Ma mère est un vrai cordon-bleu et quand je lui pose une question de cuisine, elle se fait toujours une joie de me répondre. Au lieu de vous livrer une synthèse didactique, je me suis dit qu’une discussion mère-fille serait plus parlante.

    – “Alors, tu fais bien dorer tes oignons dans du beurre. Tu ajoutes ensuite un peu de farine, tu mélanges et tu verses un bon litre d’eau bouillante. Tu sales, tu poivres et tu laisses mijoter pour la soupe réduise un peu.
    – C’est tout ?
    – Bah oui, tu veux ajouter quoi d’autre ?
    – Pas de bouillon de volaille, de thym ou de laurier ?
    – Ah non ma fille, ce n’est plus une soupe à l’oignon alors ! Tu ne mets que des oignons, rien de plus.
    – Mais elle n’aura pas de goût !
    – Écoute, j’ai toujours fait ma soupe comme cela, tu l’as toujours aimée préparée de cette façon. Ce n’est pas moi qui l’invente d’ailleurs. C’est la recette de ta grand-mère.
    – Ah… eh bien je vais faire comme tu dis alors, merci Maman.”

  47. Anon the 1st, I’ll probably only make this when I have enough beef stock saved up, but if I were going to buy it I like the resealable boxes they have now.

    Anon the 2nd, yes we do. :-) I ran that conversation through Babelfish, and it’s hysterical. Great story, too.

  48. I made French onion soup from a recipe in my son’s culinary school textbook. It was good, but can’t wait to try yours. I LOVE onion soup!

  49. I’m starting to cook right now….will report back after the taste-testers in the house approve.

  50. Kenna, let me know how it comes out.

    Kristi, I hope you’re not living in the Eastern time zone, or you make your people wait way late for dinner.

  51. LOL Drew, now its the next day. I forgot to come back after eating last night. The soup is the BOMB!!! I loooooved it! TAkes a while to make but is well worth the wait.

    PS: I’m in the Mountain time zone….LOL.

  52. Looks delicious! I have been looking for a good onion soup recipe for a while. I had pizza soup last night (my own version) so I think that this might make it on the dinner list for tomorrow night! Thank you for the recipe!

  53. Sarah, where did you first hear of pizza soup? I’ve never heard of anyone else doing it.

  54. MissFoxxy says:

    Ooooooooooooh man! I made this 2 nights ago! It turned out pretty amazing if I do say so myself!
    I was only making it for 2 so I used 2 onions, 1 cup of Chardoney (called Oops at Target for $10)I used Swansons certified organic beef broth, I didnt have fresh thyme so I just sprinkled a little dry in….ALSO lucky me i had some Gruyere (sp) hanging out in my fridge from an asparagus/puff pastry recipe!

    SUPER TASTY! The flour did through me off. I used way less since I cut down on onions, but it was way thick, I think I used about 16oz beef broth to get a good consistancy

  55. jvillegas says:

    Simply…Yummy for my tummy!

  56. MissFoxxy, thanks for the feedback. I think I’m going to go add a note about the flour.

  57. BOY did I make a mistake – I accidentally clicked on a subscribe button somewhere in your blog and have been getting MEGA emails from EVERYONE posting to you – whew!…glad that’s over…..can’t wait to try this soup – but will wait for the Vidalia’s – they’re the best!

  58. HELP!!!!!!
    It won’t let me unsibscribe -…please release me … let me go….

  59. Anon, you must have subscribed to the comments instead of the main feed. If you had an email subscription you could send me an email and I could unsubscribe you. But the comment feed is via RSS, so you’re going to have to do it from your feed reader. Sorry I can’t be more helpful than that.

    If you can’t figure it out, send me an email and I’ll see if I can walk you through it. (Keep in mind I only know the Google feed reader really well, so I’d be guessing at how the others work.)

  60. Yum….

  61. Hi. Made this recipe today and I have a question about the wine. I used a white (Turning Leaf Chardonnay) and although I was very pleased with the final result I did notice a heavy after-taste of alcohol from the wine. It made me wish that I had burned the alcohol off but I guess its too late for that now. 😉 Did you burn off the alcohol in yours and if not, did you happen to notice anything similar with yours?

  62. Chris, I did cook it down until most of the wine was gone before adding the broth. It’s also possible the flavor that I used — and I know any “real wine drinkers” are having an absolute fit that I called it a flavor — was milder or matched the onions better.

  63. Thanks for the reply, Drew.

    I thought I had reduced the wine down far enough before adding the broth, but I could be wrong. Also, Turning Leaf is a VERY cheap wine and it is very acidic so that could have played a part as well.

    Today I decided to experiment on the leftovers so I cooked it down quite a bit. Once reduced; I added a bit more broth and some water. After about 30 minutes of simmering the alcohol after-taste was gone and all was right with the world! I think I will try burning the alcohol off next time, just in case.

    All-in-all; your recipe made a great soup that I plan to make again in the future. Thanks for posting it!

  64. Chris, I’m glad it finally worked out. I believe I mentioned in the article that while I cook with wine, I don’t drink it.. So most of what I have to say about wines is based on recommendations and working from smell. Since taste and smell are so closely related, I figure if I don’t like the smell I won’t like the taste in my food.

  65. Brilliant. I’ll link to this recipe at

  66. it woudl be nice to know how many servings this makes…..

  67. Jeff, that's a real good question. We got four helpings from it, and that was a bit less than half of it, maybe closer to a third. The rest of it got turned into broth or used in making onion dip, so I really don't know exactly.

  68. Anonymous says:

    I have seven children 5 boys 2 girls. I have to make things fast and cheap. I came up with a quick sub for onion soup mix and it is better than I thought it would be.
    Here is the recipe:

    3 Tablespoons butter
    melted in iron skillet.
    2 Tablespoons dried onion, on medium low heat, toast, or carmelize, to desired depth of brown. Turn off the heat.
    2 Beef Bouillon cubes.
    When the cubes absorb the butter they will soften, smoosh them and mix with onions. Let this cool.

    To make Onion Dip, add cooled onion mixture to:
    about 2 cups of sour cream, stir. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. (You may want to add a dash of Worchestershire Sauce before refrigerating.)
    I use this mix (minus the sour cream step) in a meat loaf recipe, or pot roast or anything the packaged soup mix can be used for. Carmelizing the onions in the butter makes a huge difference in the flavor.
    I haven't measured but I think this equals about half the amount in one package of soup mix.

    I know, I LOVE all of the freshest and finest ingredients as well as anyone else. I also like to know how to feed an army of teenagers when they all converge on my home, without breaking the budget. With 5 boys I have had every eating machine in droopy pants stopping by for dinner for more than 12 years now. I cook from scratch most of the time. We go for quantity with quality and some of it comes out of cans for the sake of time. But the same kids call and say "I am going to be in the neighborhood. What are you cooking tonight? Can I come over?"

    Thanks for all of the wonderful information here!
    I found your site earlier today while looking for Sourdough Bread recipes. I have my starter almost ready to use. I love this site! I am sending all of my 7 children, and their friends, to this site so when they all leave home they can benefit from it. No one leaves my house without knowing how to cook a Thanksgiving dinner. Just like Grandma used to make!

  69. Anon, thanks for the kind words. You can also point the kids at the free online course. They can sign up at the to of the blog.

  70. Try it with meunster cheese–mmmm…

  71. Barb, I'm a big fan of muenster. Though for some reason I rarely have it around. I mostly like it melted, and I usually don't cook my sandwiches.

  72. Anonymous says:

    I absolutely LOVE the fact that there's clearly arbor mist wine on the counter… Makes me feel like this is a recipe I could actually accomplish. thank you!

  73. Credit my wife for the wine. I'm more of a mixed drink guy myself.

  74. Drew,

    About the onion soup without bouillon cubes: Make your own bouillon cubes. If you have a dehydrator, it really not that difficult, the ingredients are 100% all-natural and come from directly beef, spices, and seasonings you have in your kitchen. You can easily search for recipes via google, but if you would like I can post my personal recipe for making bouillon cubes which, when combined with a few more spices and dried onion flake, make a great substitute for onion soup mix.

    I found your blog thanks to a TFD thread on about how yummy your soup looks.

  75. Mythias, please do post it! I've been looking for a good substitute for a while, and most of them start with making the soup and dehydrating it.

  76. Just wanted to let you know that I tried making this for the first time today. Used your recipe but used red, sweet and yellow onions, more of everything else and minus the thyme (cooking for 9 and just didn't have thyme around). The house smelled AMAZING and the taste was better. Thanks for sharing, this is definitely a keeper!

  77. says:

    Well, Jenny, you and I must be in tune because I also made this today. It was fantastic! I was planning on serving it in a bread bowl, but somehow I ran out of flour (how does that even happen?). So instead I scooped out the center of one of those jumbo onions you can find at the farmer's market and poured the soup in there. It looked pretty cool!

  78. Jenny, people always say they don't have time for cooking. But then when they … what? Oh, thyme!

    Bellnoyd, I don't think I've ever seen an onion so big I'd use it for a bowl. That would be awesome.

  79. I read through this recipe and decided that I HAVE to make this. I absolutely detest using bouillon cubes, but at the same time I don't have time to make home made broth. Could I go out and buy a carton of broth to substitute?

    As for the wine bit, I can understand using a red wine with a red meat broth, but I myself am allergic to high sulfites. I'm going to go ahead and try this with a white wine and I imagine it'll taste just as delicious.

  80. Jessica, sure you can use store-bought broth. It's better than using the cubes, and definitely better than dehydrated soup.

    I'm not shooting for perfection. To me, the question is always, "Is it better than the alternative?"

  81. OMG this is so good!

  82. DataPlus - Custom Data Services says:

    Yum I will make this. You are making me hungry. I do love Gruyere though. We have a little cafe in town that is run by a French gentleman and he makes the best onion soup I have ever had. We went to France and tried onion soup everywhere – his was still best. I have been striving to attain it for years. Of course he won't share his recipe but I know he uses Gruyere cause I saw him buy in one day in the market.

    Thanks and I will try this out for sure!

  83. DP, I'm not a fan of secret recipes. You might have noticed that little logo in right column near the top there. :-)

    If you don't have kids, you probably haven't seen Kung Fu Panda. There's a great bit in there about the father's "Secret Ingredient Soup".

  84. Yeah! Great!

  85. I made french onion soup once with broth I made from leftover rack of lamb bones. It's really interesting how it alters the flavor! I really liked it but after about the third bowl all you can taste is lamb. I live in Japan now so it's hard to get a lot of ingredients to make soup stocks. Next time I find beef bones I will make this!

  86. I'm on my 4th batch of French Onion soup. I can't cook very well so I'm trying to master a few things. So far it's either too thin or too thick. I'll try this next time.

  87. gah! plans for today are to make a massive pot of french onion soup to freeze and give my little sister for a christmas present (so she can have a reprieve from my father’s cooking!) … but this morning i opened my eyes and my first thought was “i forgot to get fresh thyme!” bummer… guess i’ll have to use dried! but mmmm, this is a great recipe, nice and simple!

  88. Drew – YOU are my hero! All my favorite foods in one place – with pictures so that even I can make them. French onion soup is just the thing for tonight. It’s a freezing 6 degrees here in TEXAS!

  89. My recipe for onion soup and your recipe is almost identical . . . very cool. I cube the bread and only started doing this when my kids were little and struggled with the whole bread/cheese thing.

    Also, at a conference I went to in Denver and we had a special evening at Johnson and Wales. The head chef/teacher (whatever) was asked how he makes his broth and he said something like “they have entire classes about making broth from scratch . . . at home, I use low sodium Swanson.” We all laughed.

  90. Had this in mind for… full 6 months, I guess. But today was the day – I finally made it! And this was truly one of the best homemade soups I’ve ever devoured (within a couple of seconds^^) so help me God. Brilliant!

    So simple, and sooooo fantastic! Yumm! Thank you so much for sharing =))

  91. i made this today step by step and it was fabulous-only thing is, when i put in 8 ounces of the beef broth, it wasnt much AT ALL…it was mostly all onion,so i put it more broth. it was real good. took along time…and i ruined it by putting cruttons in it…i think maybe just bread i will use next time

  92. by the way i wasnt knocking your recipe, maybe i did it totally wrong, im just an ultra broth girl! this was fabulous, i loved watching the onions cook. i need goggles next tie before i cut 5 onions

  93. Molly, some people like to cut a disk of bread using a cookie cutter or coffee mug, something just slightly smaller than the opening of the bowl. Brush it with butter and grill briefly, or leave it try and toast it. Drop that on to hold up the cheese while it melts.

  94. Drew you have a great sense of humor. Thanks for sharing. 😉

  95. Hi Drew,
    I love this recipe. I use less onion and more broth and it is yummy. This soup has been one of the staples of my diet; without croutons and cheese it’s tasty and low(ish) calorie. It helps satisfy the red meat craving without the need for bernaise sauce 😉

  96. Penny Abrams says:

    My grandson eats no flesh nor anything made with animal products (gelatins, etc)other than eggs, cheese and, sometimes milk. I use Swanson’s broths. They are very low in fat, and salt, and they are tasty. I use them for matzo ball soup (chicken), for beef and barley soup, for W.I. cream of carrot soup, and the veggie broth for soups I make for grandson. Are they the soups one gets from long, slow cooking of bones with the drippings of whatever they were before? No. They are also healthier because they are lower in salts and fat. By the way, a few grinds of fresh nutmeg does to a potful what salt does but it doesn’t do (to you) what salt does. Get the snap without the downside.

    • Nitasha says:

      my mom comes home from work totally exhausted and irritated. The only way to cheer her up is to put up something delicious. I tried your soup_exactly the same way…except that i used chicken broth… it was delicious. now i have her calling home some days asking me to prepare a bowl of onion soup before she reaches home. Totally cheers her up!!!

  97. In my experience it is best to use white wine with bird broth and red wine with beef broth. It has an off/not-quite-right quality if they are mixed the wrong way. Maybe it’s just me but that’s been true for my taste buds.

  98. Crystal says:

    This is an EXCELLENT recipe. I have made this recipe about 5 times, and it is delicious. It is saved in my favorites. I used canned beef broth instead and it still came out delicious. LOVE THIS RECIPE!!

  99. Vanessa Bostwick says:

    This soup was simply delicious. I made it tonight using herbs from our garden and a mixture of different cheeses. White wine simply made the soup, along with the croutons. Wouldn’t change anything, except I’d probably double it!

  100. I am going to try this recipe tonight!
    I’m not very keen on the crouton idea…does it work the same with french bread?

  101. Kara, some people prefer a solid disk of bread. Just cut out a circle slightly smaller than the opening of your bowl, then either toast it or butter and grill it.

    This method holds the cheese up nicely, but can be a little harder to get through with your spoon without spilling the soup.

  102. Drew – I got the taste for some French Onion Soup and found this recipe. OMG!! It turned out fantastic!! …better than any I’ve ‘ever’ had out!!

    I had to improvise on some items though… I had to use beef bouillon, I added a teaspoon of Gravy Master (for more flavoring), I cheated and added a table spoon of Onion Soup Mix, and I used Sherry Cooking Wine, I did not have fresh thyme I had to use dried. Everything else I had. And even with the improvising, it turned out fantastic…

    I would definitely make again… and Drew, since this is my first visit here I will come back for more good stuff! Thanks for teaching me and everyone else!! Yummy!

  103. Vanessa says:

    Which type of wine do you recommend? A red or white wine?

  104. Vanessa, since I’m not a wine drinker, and I certainly didn’t want to go buy and open a whole bottle just to add two cups of it to soup, I used whatever was left over from the last time we had guests. (Knowing my wife’s taste, it was probably white zinfandel.)

    The standard rule for cooking with wine is to use whatever you would like to drink. If you like both white and red, just try one and see how you like it. If it’s not quite right, try the other next time. The onion and beef broth should be the dominant flavors anyway, so it’s hard to go too far wrong with either choice.

  105. Well – nice one – though you did not let us know red or white wine – but from the photo, I could see you meant the red wine… plus there’s a wonderful ‘better than bouillon’ beef product out there that is great if you cannot make your own broth…it’s widely available now in your soup isle at the grocery store…

  106. I literally /just/ started learning how to cook a few days ago, and so far I’ve made tomato soup (o lol amateur). I had a craving for French onion, and I stumbled upon your website! I was very intrigued and wanted to try your recipe asap, so for dinner I decided to make French onion soup for me and my girlfriend’s mother when she arrived home from work. I ended up using Swanson’s 100% fat free, 50% less sodium beef broth for the least amount of additives. I left out the kosher salt and added crushed red chili pepper instead – it sure gave a little kick to the soup! As for the wine, neither she nor I are big drinkers – and we mainly use wine for cooking anyhow – so I went for chardonnay. Since I’m lactose intolerant, I had to leave out the cheese (booo!) so I put mozzarella on my mom’s instead (tee hee!) The process of creating this soup was so much fun, and it smelled so good from start to finish! My “Italian ma” enjoyed it ~ :”> Thank you, credits to you!

    • You know what I love about your attitude? You just started cooking but you’re not afraid to make reasonable substitutions. So many people treat recipes as gospel, and it keeps them from personalizing anything and making it their recipe. Congratulations on making your French onion soup.

  107. Just made French Onion Soup for lunch (well, my husband did…I just chopped and grated!). It was soooo delicious. Since we are not wine drinkers (and didn’t have any in the house for that reason), I substituted a half cup of apple cider. Used beef broth (commercially canned, since we used up the home-canned beef broth we made last year!). We made the soup in our old electric skillet (easy to keep the temp steady) and it worked a treat.

    BTW, we have one of those Magnalite cast aluminum roasters–inherited it from my mom; I think it dates from the 1950s–and we absolutely love it. Makes the best turkey and roasts!

  108. how many people does this serve

  109. FYI only – America’s Test Kitchen has a french onion soup recipe for the slow cooker. It takes a minimum of 8 hours, up to 12 hours to make depending upon the slow cooker.
    I’ve tried it, it’s good, and easy to do. I found the recipe in ‘The Slow Cooker Revolution’
    magazine in the grocery store. This version has only 60 recipes compared to the book version which has 200 or so. Use the best ingredients you can get. Don’t burn the toast!
    The magazine was printed in late 2011.

  110. Joan S Bauer says:

    The Hillbilly Housewife has a great web site and recipe for homemade, ” Cream of Anything Soup Mix” . Search it on her site, it will bring you to a list of stuff. Scroll down to Cream of Asparagus and then click on the the link to her ” convenience food recipee’s.”. I have made the mix and it is excellant, as are all her recipee’s, etc. IT IS SODIUM AND CHEMICAL FREE!!!! YAHOO!!!
    Penzey’s spices has some bouillion that works well for this.
    Also, I am now using the Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt for any, I said , ANY cream recipee’s and it works great and has no chemicals and is very healthy and tastes great! Just dont curdle it and you are good to go……
    Hope this helps.

  111. For Onion Dip without all the crap… I use “BETTER THAN BOULLION” concentrated stock. Unlike regular boulion… the FIRST ingredient on this is MEAT, not MSG although it is still very salty.

    I use Daisy brand sour cream. Mince or (better) grate the onions. Add Beef Better than Boullion and the grated onions to the sour cream to taste. Let flavors blend for an hour or more, stir and serve – YUM

  112. James Clark says:

    I have seen recipes that call for red wine or white, or both. One included a splash of Cognac, which is the way it was prepared in a small restaurant in rural France, when I was in the US Army in the 1960s. It was the first time I had ever eaten French Onion Soup and I was hooked, in one meal. I add the Cognac, when I make it. I will be trying your recipe, soon.

  113. Thanks for the pictures and it was easy!

  114. this is on my list on things i want to eat when I get my body back! (fullmetal alchemist) but anyway i want to try this. I am doing a project on foods from france and I chose this and a snack i chose was crepes!

  115. Drew, thank you very much for the recipe! I made it yesterday, and it was delicious! One explanation for the fact that some people say red wine is a must would be because the recipe is made with beef broth, and red wine goes well with beef. I actually used chicken broth (I didn’t have the beef broth), but I still used red wine, and regular onions, and the result was a success:) I topped it with a nice smoked Italian cheese, which was hard not to eat in the first two bites…

  116. Hi all,

    Super novice cook here, but love french onion soup, so I thought what the heck, I’ll give it a shot! Love this recipe, it’s easy, consistent, and makes me look like I reaaalllly know my kitchen (ha)!

    Two questions: why is a dutch oven used, and does it make a big difference in the soup’s quality? I used a non-stick pot and it still turned out well-would getting a dutch oven take it to another level?

    Also, I served the soup recently to some friends, and one ungrateful wretch complained that I had too many onions!!! I thought it was fine, but I’m not exactly a food critic! Do you think you can go overboard on the onions, or is this just a matter of preference?


    • Derek, if you like it as is, the Dutch oven wouldn’t make much difference. It’s just a little easier to caramelize the onions without burning them.

      And ask your friend what he thinks is supposed to be in “onion soup”. Seriously, some people …

  117. Abbie Wagner says:

    Would it be possible to make the soup without the wine? Or to use something close to wine?

    • Abbie, some of the comments above suggest dark beer, sherry or vermouth. If you’re trying to avoid the alcohol, there was also someone who made it with apple cider and loved it. I might try cider vinegar, since the acidity is probably more like wine.

  118. Just finished 2 bowls of this! Absolutely fantastic! Best recipe I have used yet! Thank you Drew!

  119. Dheena Mary says:

    Hi I am from India and French cosine fantasize me.
    This was one of the best and love it cooking .

  120. i really liked the french onion soup it turened out great. thanks

  121. Ok, so my mother makes an amazing french onion soup, well pretty much everything she makes is fantastic. So I was going to attempt to make her recipe, but then I thought maybe I could figure one out that was mine. So I started looking up other people’s to get an idea of how to make this.
    Today is my first attempt, and I have followed your recipe, and I have to say, my house is smelling so freaking amazing right now, I can’t wait for it to be done!!!
    Thank you for this recipe!!! It’s glorious!


  1. […] Cheesey French Onion Soup via How to Cook Like Your Grandmother from → family, food ← hosting thanksgiving part one: place settings LikeBe the first to like this post. No comments yet Click here to cancel reply. […]

  2. […] onion soup from The Kitchn, I decided to use it up. My recipe is a conglomeration of the above and this one from How to Cook Like Your Grandmother (and maybe a few others mixed […]

Tip Jar

Like what you see? Buy me a drink.