My all-time favorite French Onion Soup! This recipe is simple with only a few ingredients, but we're transforming them into an exquisite, crave-worthy cozy soup and I'm talking you through all the steps to make sure yours turns out better than anything you can get in a restaurant.
3sprigsfresh thymeplus additional for topping if desired
2driedbay leavesor 1 fresh bay leaf
½teaspoonfreshly ground black pepper
1loafFrench breadsliced into ¾” thick slices
Prepare onions by slicing root to stem, removing the outer layer, and then slicing with the grain in ⅛" slices (see post or video for detailed instructions and visual). Set aside.
Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Add sliced onions, sugar, and salt and stir until all onions have been coated with butter. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
3.5 lbs onions, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon salt
Uncover and continue to cook, stirring as needed, until onions are caramelized, this will take approximately 40-60 minutes. Near the end you will need to stir the onions frequently to keep them from burning and may need to reduce your heat. If the onions begin to stick to the bottom, simply deglaze the pan with a small splash of your beef broth.
Once onions are caramelized, pour the wine over the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the wine has been absorbed/cooked out and the alcohol smell is gone (about 3-5 minutes).
⅔ cup dry white wine¹
Sprinkle flour over the onions and stir, cooking on medium/low heat for 2 minutes.
1 ½ Tablespoons all-purpose flour
Add beef broth (add the first half of this slowly, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan as you do), thyme, bay leaves, and black pepper. Stir well and increase heat to bring to a boil.
8 cups beef broth, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 dried bay leaves, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15-30 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange your oven rack to the upper third of your oven and preheat oven to 425F (220C).
Place your bread slices in an even layer on a baking sheet. If desired, brush each side lightly with melted butter. Once oven is preheated, cook the bread until lightly toasted, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from oven (don’t turn off the oven!) and slice the garlic clove in half. Rub the cut half of the garlic against one surface of each slice of bread (the bread will be hot! I usually hold the bread with tongs while I rub the garlic against the surface).
1 loaf French bread, 1 large garlic clove
Once soup has simmered, taste it and add more salt as needed (whether or not you need more and how much will vary greatly depending on the brand and type of broth you used). Remove thyme and bay leaves as you come across them.
Portion soup into crocks and sprinkle a bit of Gruyere over the surface. Top with bread slices (as many as fit nicely into the crock) and then top with additional cheese.
8 oz gruyere cheese²
Arrange crocks on a baking sheet and place in the top rack of your oven and bake until cheese is bubbly and beginning to turn golden brown.
Remove and serve, topped with additional fresh thyme if desired.
¹Wine. You cook out much of the alcohol in the wine, but if you want to make it completely alcohol-free you can simply substitute it with ½ cup beef broth or chicken broth mixed with a a 2-3 Tablespoons of vinegar (white wine, red wine, balsamic, or white are good choices). Some sources also recommend using grape juice instead, which I have never tried personally. ²Cheese. Fontina, Swiss, or Mozzarella will work instead. Provolone is another option if you do not have any of the other options.