French Onion Soup Recipe: easy to make, delicious to eat
I really wish I would have started making French Onion soup sooner. This is an easy-to-make recipe that’s so delicious, and if you have leftovers, for a unique twist, you can use the broth as a marinade. On a cold day, I love French Onion soup. Well, actually, on almost any winter day, I love this soup! While I eat mostly plant-based, I can’t resist this cheesy and savory soup.
French Onion soup–a long history, thanks to the onion
French Onion soup has been around since the 17th century. Of course, it originated in France, but its popularity grew throughout the world not just because the soup is so tasty but also because of the onion. Onions have always been inexpensive and easy to grow.
The interesting thing about onion soup is that while it was used among the poor, especially during the Roman Times, as a staple to feed the hungry, it was also used to mask the smell of alcohol. So drinkers would eat French Onion soup made with Gruyère cheese, and because of the cheese’s strong aroma, it would rid the smell of any alcohol and maybe help with hangovers! Who knew?
However, in this French Onion soup, no need to hide the alcohol. We’re going to use red wine for its excellent flavor and to deglaze our pan. At first, I was intimidated to make this soup. It just seemed more difficult to make than it is, but it does take time. It’s worth it, though. The leftovers are great, but you’ll need to warm the broth and then add the toasted bread cheese and broil each time so that it comes out just like the first day you made it.
French Onion Soup Ingredients
- Onions — 6 pounds, about 8- 12 medium-sized onions, sliced (yellow, although white are OK too). Slice about 1/4 inch thick. Be sure to use enough onions. The first time, I didn’t, and I found us wishing we had put more in. In this household, there are never enough onions!
- Chicken broth — 9 cups — you can also substitute with vegetable broth and add mushrooms but I usually don’t use alternatives unless I’m wanting it to be totally plant-based.
- Beef broth 1 cup (if I have leftover stock from a pot roast, I use that for the best flavor) – OR use 4 tablespoons of beef concentrate and 1 cup water or 1 extra cup of chicken broth
- Butter – 6 tablespoons – you can also use unsalted Vegan butter.
- Cooking oil – about 2 tablespoons — just enough so that the butter doesn’t burn while caramelizing the onions
- Fresh herbs: thyme sprig, 2 bay leaves, rosemary sprig (you can put the fresh herbs into a cheesecloth and tie it up with kitchen twine). This way, you can easily scoop out the herbs and discard them after cooking.
- Tomato paste — 2 tablespoons
- Garlic – 1/4 cup (purée)
- Red wine (use the one you would also drink), 1/2 cup
- Sherry – 1/2 cup
- French bread roll (sliced)
- Cheeses: Gruyere (shredded) and Provolone (slices)
- Another cheese like Comté Cheese (optional)
French Onion Soup Recipe
- In a Dutch Oven, melt butter and cooking oil over low to medium heat, add onions, and sauté. You want the sliced onions to brown and caramelize; if the onions stick to the pot, you can add a splash of the combined red wine and sherry to deglaze as you continue cooking the onions. Go with low heat and slow cooking so they don’t burn. Stir as needed to get all the onions brown; it could take 45 minutes or more.
- Use the red wine and sherry to deglaze your pan, scraping all the brown bits until most of the liquid evaporates. (The first time I made this, I removed the onions from the Dutch oven to scrape the brown bits more easily. You can also deglaze with the onions in the pot, but this way worked great, too!)
- Add garlic and tomato paste to the pot and sauté briefly.
- Add the chicken and beef stock (or beef concentrate) and your fresh herbs to the pot and simmer for about 45 minutes. (medium to low heat)
- Slice and toast the bread.
- When the soup is ready, ladle it into individual oven-safe bowls and place them on a cooking tray. Add pieces of toast and top with slices of Provolone cheese and shredded Gruyere. Place the tray in the oven and broil on high for about 5 minutes. Serve right away, but note it will be blistering hot!