French Onion Soup

My take on “Soupe à l’oignon” or French Onion Soup.

This classic French dish is based on Caramelised Onions and a good beef stock.

Practise your onion slicing, let your tears run freely and be patient. With a labour of love this hearty soup will please many. What could be better than a combination of sweet caramelised onions topped with melted cheese croutons.

Traditionally the French Onion Soup is quite thick and the French finish the dish by melting the cheese croutons on top of the soup in the oven. Don’t worry if you don’t have oven proof bowls to serve the soup, I don’t. Just bake the cheese croutons separate, easy does it. I have adjusted this recipe to create a less thickened soup, but feel free to twist the recipe to your own liking.

French Onion Soup has its gastronomic roots in the broths of Ancient Rome, prepared for the first time over 8,000 years ago. Today’s recipe like it is served up in Parisian restaurants, and in the kitchens of lovers of French cuisine everywhere, changed in the 18th century.

Serves: 6 | Preparation: 20 min | Total time: 2 hours

Who connected us?!  My better half is a cheese lover pure-sang, and having lived in France, this dish is hard to miss.


  • 1,5 kg brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 1,5 litre beef stock (or vegetable stock if your are vegetarian)
  • 4 thyme sprigs, some parsley stalks, 2 fresh bay leafs, combined into a bouquet.
  • 6 thick slices of baguette cut on diagonal, lightly toasted
  • 250 gram coarsely grated gruyère (can be replaced with other cheese)
  • 50 grams butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Caramelising the onions

  1. Make sure your onions are thinly sliced, for the best results.
  2. Melt the butter in a large heavy based pan on a medium heat.
  3. Add the sliced onions, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time to make sure the onions cook evenly and don’t burn. With caramelising onions, patience is king!
  4. Once your onions are light brown and soft, remove the lid, turn down the heat to low and cook for about an hour, or until the onions are caramelised. Stir occasionally to cook the onions evenly. Caramelised onions should be dark brown, soft and sweet.

Making the soup

  1. Add 1 cup of the stock and stir, to deglaze the pan.
  2. Slowly add the rest of the stock, the bouquet and simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


The traditional way is to ladle the soup in oven proof bowls, top with croutons and toasted baguette slices, scattered with the cheese and then cooked au gratin in the oven undertone grill. But when you don’t have oven proof bowls, the alternative is to bake to cheese toast in the oven separately and then serve it onto the bowls with soup, easy does it.


  • White wine; For deglazing the pan, white wine is a very good option. One cup should do.
  • Cheese: Traditionally Comte or Gruyere are perfect cheeses to melt on top of the Onion Soup If you can’t get any of these French cheeses, pick your own choice of cheese.

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