The Best French Onion Soup Recipe

February 14, 2021
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This classic French onion soup is made from sweet caramelized onions in a flavorful beef broth and topped with toasted slices of French baguette and Gruyere and Emmentaler cheeses.

For the longest time, I never understood the fascination with French onion soup. I had this taste in my head of raw white onions in a soup covered with cheese. But was I wrong!

But I’m also a polite eater. So out of respect even if I am served something I know I am not going to like I will still give it a taste. This was the case with French onion soup. It was that first bite that I realized I was all wrong about French onion soup. It is sweet soft caramelized onions in a flavorful beef broth topped with the best gooey melted cheese on top of toasted slices of French bread.

While my recipe for classic French onion soup is easy, it is also time-consuming. But trust me it is worth every spoonful.

“It is hard to imagine a civilization without onions.” -Julia Child

Happy Eats!

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Let’s Talk Ingredients

To make delicious French onion soup you really only need a shortlist of easy-to-find ingredients most of which might be staples you already have in your pantry or refrigerator.

  • Onions are the star of this dish and I have an entire blog post dedicated to selecting and then caramelizing onions. You can use any onion but just note there will be a slight variation in the level of sweetness from the caramelization.
  • Butter & Olive Oil are my go-to choices of fat for this recipe but you can substitute the olive oil for just butter. I always use and recommend unsalted butter so that you are only adding the amount of salt you want or the recipe needs.
  • Beef stock is the classic base but you can easily switch it out for vegetable stock to make this a vegetarian version. Chicken stock will also work if that is all you have on hand. As with any substitution, the final flavor will be different but still delicious.
  • Thyme sprigs and bay leaf are the only two “herbs” that you need to for this recipe. I use fresh thyme sprigs but you can substitute for dry thyme. Typically one large sprig of thyme is equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon of dry thyme.
  • French baguette is my bread of choice for this recipe but any bread that has a crispy crust can be used.
  • Cheese is the final key ingredient. I always go for a combo of Gruyere and Emmentaler which are both types of Swiss cheeses. Emmentaler is slightly less fatty than Gruyere which is why I go for the combo but you can use any type of Swiss cheese. The key is selecting a cheese that is a great melting cheese. I chose this shredded that I found at my local grocery store.

Let’s Get Cooking

Are you ready for a bowl of classic French onion soup? You will need to use broiler-safe dishes that you place on a cookie or baking sheet. The bowls will come out extremely hot after broiling so use caution when moving to the serving plate.

Pro-tip: Make a little extra soup as it freezes well. Defrost and top with some toasted slices of your favorite crusty bread and cheese for an easy weeknight soup dinner.

plated bowl of french onion soup

French Onion Soup

This classic French onion soup is made from sweet caramelized onions in a flavorful beef broth and topped with toasted slices of French baguette and Gruyere and Emmentaler cheeses.
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Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Servings 4
Calories 688 kcal


Caramelized Onions

  • 3 large peeled sweet or yellow onions, (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1.5 cups water or beef stock

French Onion Soup

  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt, to taste
  • 8 slices baguette, approximately 1 inch thick
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Emmentaler cheese, shredded


Caramelized Onions

  • Rough chop onions so that slices are between ⅛ and ¼ inches thick.
    overhead shot of ingredients for caramelized onions
  • Heat the butter and olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Once the butter has melted add onions and sweat them until they become translucent.
    Overhead shot of onions being caramelized
  • Reduce heat to low and continue to cook onions, stirring every 5-10 minutes to prevent them from sticking. Deglaze pan with water or stock when fond starts to form on the pan.
    overhead shot of onions being caramelized
  • As onions continue to caramelize, continue stirring every 5-10 minutes and deglazing the saucepan as fond forms.
  • Continue cooking until onions have reached a deep blonde color.

French Onion Soup

  • Once onions have cooked, add 4 cups of beef broth, thyme, and bay leaf.
  • Bring soup to a boil, and then reduce heat.
  • Partially cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt to taste

French Onion Soup Assembly

  • Combine Gruyere and Emmentaler cheese, set aside.
  • Place 4 oven/broiler safe soup bowls on a cookie or baking sheet.
    overhead shot of French onion soup before going into broiler
  • Fill each of the soup bowls with the soup and then top with two slices of french baguette and ½ of the shredded cheese.
  • Broil until the cheese is melted and begins to brown.
    overhead shot of plated bowls of French onion soup


You can substitute vegetable broth for the beef broth to make this recipe vegetarian.


Serving: 1 servingCalories: 688 kcalCarbohydrates: 28 gProtein: 36 gFat: 47 gSaturated Fat: 24 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 13 gCholesterol: 128 mgSodium: 883 mgPotassium: 208 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 9 gVitamin A: 26 IUVitamin C: 14 mgCalcium: 119 mgIron: 4 mg

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #theweekendfoodie.

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