French onion soup is one of those fancy restaurant menu items that always sounds enticing, but daunting to cook at home. Well, it need not daunt you now!
This week’s recipe is the classic French Soupe à L’oignon, it’s super easy, requires basic ingredients, and can also be revved up a bit for a date night extravaganza!
Onions may not be everyone’s favourite vegetable, and their reputation for making cooks cry can’t be beat. But, this recipe will have you weeping with joy, it’s a deep and flavourful soup, topped with cheese encrusted toasted bread.
It’s a mouthful of happiness in each and every spoonful!
French onion soup, aka Soupe à L’oignon on all the fanciest of menus, is a true Parisian classic. It was first made there in the 1700s, and quickly became a menu regular.
There are many variations, some include alcohol and others omit this. Some have milk, or are finished under a grill or broiler, others skip this step. Much like the country of its origin, this soup is varied, but is always delicious with each variation.
How to make French onion soup
LPaG’s version is an easy to make version, so you won’t be left wondering about how to make French onion soup by any tricky lingo or fancy ingredients. And of course, if you don’t want or don’t like alcohol, or prefer chicken to beef stock, that’s fine!
This soup has to be a personal favourite of ours, it’s a warming and hearty soup, without being overly heavy. It’s also great in winter, to help ward off any bugs by building up the immune system.
Does that mean you should only eat this soup in winter? Absolutely not! You probably don’t want to get stuck into a bowl of it in 30˚C weather, but, if you’re looking to warm up, then this is your go-to soup!
It also makes a great base for slow cooked meats and vegetable stews; just brown your meat, and then leave to simmer for several hours. Perfection!
So, time for the important part, what you’re going to need for this recipe!
French Onion Soup Ingredients:
Dry Vermouth: The original version uses this, although if you prefer you can omit it.
White wine: This is always a nice compromise to the dry Vermouth to deglaze your soup pot. It will add an extra depth of flavour to the soup too!
Brandy: It goes in many French dishes. or your Christmas cake or pudding, and is essential for that all important flambè!
Bay leaves: A kitchen essential for many different recipes, if you can’t grow a bay tree in your garden, make sure you have some dried leaves in your pantry!
Salt: Where would we be without salt? This fleur du sel is a French style from the Camargue, and lends a little more authenticity to the recipe. But you can use regular cooking salt too!
Thyme: As with the salt and bay, thyme is a classic cooking herb, so you really should keep some in your pantry!
Soupe à L’oignon Equipment:
Chopping board: Every kitchen needs one, and this one will last you a lifetime!
Pairing knife: You won’t get far in cooking without a decent knife, and this pairing knife will do most jobs with ease!
Stirring spoons: A kitchen essential, don’t get caught short.
Measuring Jug: This jug is great for measuring liquids, and solids. This one has imperial and metric measurements for accuracy and convenience!
Grater: If you prefer to grate by hand, then this box-style grater is exactly what you want.
Tongs: For handling those super hot and toasted baguette croutons, no burnt fingers here.
Lifters: Makes scooping up the golden, melted, cheese encrusted croutons so much easier.
Baking sheet: You’ll need one of these for many recipes, cookies, biscuits, grilling, broiling, and of course to toast your croutons.
Dutch oven: This whopping 4.2lt pot will be more than big enough for this recipe – and can be served at the table for that romantic and rustic dinner – and can also be used for other braises, stews, casseroles, and slow roasts, even to bake your sourdough loaf!
Soup Bowls: If you’d rather serve your soup in individual bowls, then these chic French-style oven proof soup bowls will be ideal.
And now, on to the recipe:
Soupe à L’oignon or French Onion Soup
- Large saucepan, or Stockpot
- Stirring Spoons
- Measuring jug
- Measuring cups
- Serving bowls
- Baking sheet
- 1.5 kg yellow onions sliced
- 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 50 gr butter
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 lt beef stock
- 125 ml dry vermouth or dry white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- To Serve:
- 1 stick French bread or baguette
- 375 ml Comtè, Gruyere, or Emmental cheese grated
- In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, or stockpot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onions, and begin to soften, stirring frequently, this should take 15-20mins.
- Once softened, turn the heat up to medium high, add the butter, and cook the onions until they are golden brown, about another 10-15mins.
- Add the sugar, this will help with the browning (caramelisation), and a little salt. After another 5-10mins, the onions should be thoroughly browned.
- Finally, add the garlic, stir for another 5mins.
- Once the garlic is cooked in, add the vermouth or white wine. Use a flat/square stirrer to scrape away the stuck bits at the bottom of the pot.
- The soup base is now ready to add the stock, and the herbs.
- Begin to simmer the soup with a lid, aim for a low simmer with only the occasional bubbling. The soup should simmer for about 30mins, to fully develop the flavours.
- Add any additional salt and/or pepper to taste, remove the bay leaves, and finally, add the brandy to complete the dish.
- As the soup simmers, preheat your oven to 220˚C/450°F, place a rack in the upper third of the oven, and line a baking sheet with aluminium foil – do not use parchment or baking paper, as this could burn at high heat.
- Carefully cut the baguette into thick slices, about 1” or 2.5cm, and brush evenly with olive oil on both sides.
- Toast the baguette n the oven until a light brown colour, 5mins should do.
- Remove from the oven, and turn over to toast the other side, adding the Gruyere/Emmental cheese before returning to the oven. Bake until the cheese begins to bubble and get golden-brown spots.
- Once the soup has simmered, and the cheese topped baguette is ready, serve by ladling soup into serving bowls, and place one to two slices of cheesy baguette on top.
- You can also finish this soup in the oven: use individual oven-proof soup bowls, or a single large pot. Pour the soup into the bowl, top with the baguette when it’s only toasted on one side, un-toasted side up, scatter the cheese over the baguette and then bake or broil/grill until the cheese is golden-brown and bubbling, about 10mins.
Thanks for checking out this post on how to make French Onion Soup, the traditional French dish Soupe à L’oignon. I do hope you make it soon, and if you do, please come back and post a comment, or share a photo with the tag: #LarderPantryandGarden.
You can also follow LPaG on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube too!
This post may contain affiliate links.