french onion soup

french onion soup

Delectably perfect for lunch with a salad or as a light simple supper! It requires some stamina and patience to bring the onions to the absolutely essential caramelized state. To those avoiding dairy, this recipe is authentic, and thus must involve real Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses, freshly grated.


  • About 6 large red or yellow onions (3 lbs)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 rounded tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup vermouth or dry white wine
  • 8 cups bone broth, beef or chicken stock, or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp brandy (optional)
  • 8 slices 1 inch thick of French bread or baguette*
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  • Large stock pot or dutch oven
  • Stirring spoon
  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Pastry brush
  • Parchment paper or foil
  • Baking sheet
  • Cheese grater

How to:

Peel the onions and cut off the root and stem areas. Then cut in half and slice thinly from root to stem. There should be about 10 cups. Set the pot over medium heat and grease with 3 tbsp olive oil. Pile in the onions and toss to coat with oil.

Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they soften, about 15-20 minutes. Make sure they are soft before going to the next step.

Stir in the butter and last tablespoon of olive oil, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to caramelize, about 20-40 minutes. Mine took a good 30 minutes, so be patient. They should be turning brown and very soft.

Stir in the sugar and salt. Continue cooking and stirring frequently, until the onions are well browned and almost meltingly soft, about 10-15 minutes. Patience, patience…

Stir in the garlic and cook for one more minute.

Add the wine, scraping the bottom and sides to deglaze the pot. Add the broth, bay leaves and thyme. Bring the soup to bubbling, then cover and turn down heat to simmering gently, for about 30 minutes.

As the soup nears completion, stir in the black pepper, more salt if needed, and the brandy, if using. Remove the bay leaves. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Brush both sides of the baguette slices lightly with olive oil, and toast them on a parchment lined baking sheet till lightly browned. Remove from the oven, turn over the slices, pile them with the Gruyere, sprinkle Parmesan on top of that, then toast again until bubbling.

Ladle the soup into bowls, top with one or two slices of baguette (depending on the size), then sprinkle more cheese over everything. Let stand a moment, then serve!

If you have ovenproof bowls, ladle in the soup, top with the toasted baguette and cheese, sprinkle more cheese over all, then pop under a broiler for a few minutes for a lovely, bubbling crust.

*If avoiding grains, look for a grain-free baguette at your grocery store. These are most likely in a freezer.