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This is the best easy classic French Onion Soup recipe of my life: rich, flavorful beef broth infused with buttery caramelized onion and herbs, topped with toasted baguette slices and gooey melted Gruyère cheese. Comfort food doesn’t get any better. And this restaurant-quality soup takes just 1 hour to make!

easy homemade french onion soup topped with bread and cheese

You’re probably familiar with the expression April showers bring May flowers. Showers in April typically refer to rain, but this weekend the weather forecast actually called for a chance of snow! (Weather in Upstate New York is just that unpredictable.) 

The dreary, cold, damp weather called for something warming from the inside out, so I turned to a comforting classic: French Onion Soup!

I’ve heard that French Onion Soup is one of the most commonly ordered soups in restaurants. This makes sense to me since I almost always order it when I see it on a menu. 

spoonful of french onion soup with crouton and cheese

There’s just something about the rich, broth-drenched crouton, sweet caramelized onion, and bubbly, melted cheese that makes it irresistible.  

After eating this soup so many times in restaurants, I’ve realized that the homemade version makes even the best restaurant’s soup pale in comparison.

You’re going to love that this easy French Onion Soup recipe comes together in just 1 hour! And like most soups, it’s budget-friendly, and even better the next day.

french onion soup bowls on wooden table

Easy Classic French Onion Soup Recipe

This soup is always impressive at a restaurant, but you can definitely make it at home. It’s a great soup for entertaining.

I’m going to show you how to make a classic French Onion Soup in just 1 hour!

Classic French Onion Soup Ingredients

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas. For the full recipe (including ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

easy french onion soup recipe ingredients
  • Olive oil – instead of using all butter, we use half olive oil and half butter to raise the smoke point a bit
  • Butter – I usually use unsalted butter, but salted butter will also work fine
  • Yellow onion – also sometimes called cooking onion, I like to use yellow onion because it’s less sweet than other varieties
  • Dry white wine – my favorite dry white wine to use here is Sauvignon Blanc, but Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay will also work well. However, you can also use a dry red wine, such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, or Cabernet Sauvignon. And if you prefer not to use wine, you can use a mixture of 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice + 1/2 cup water
  • Salt and black pepper – to season our soup
  • Beef stock – go for a really good-quality store-bought beef stock, or use homemade if you have the time to make it or have some stashed in your freezer
  • Fresh thyme – fresh thyme brightens up the flavor of this French Onion Soup recipe without overpowering it
  • Bay leaf – use it if you have it, but don’t worry about it if you don’t
  • Baguette slices – you can use any good-quality bread you have on hand, and stale is fine because it’s getting toasted anyway
  • Gruyère cheese – a good-quality cheese makes a huge difference, but if Gruyère isn’t your thing you can use Emmental, Jarlsberg, or even sharp white cheddar or unsmoked provolone

How to Make French Onion Soup

Step 1: Caramelize the Onion

making caramelized onions for french onion soup
  1. Peel and thinly slice the onion.
  2. Add the oil and butter to a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the onion and stir to coat. Cook the onion until it is deep golden in color, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of water when it starts to stick to the pan, or when it starts to get too dark. Adjust the heat down as necessary so the onion doesn’t burn.
  3. Once caramelized, stir in the garlic (if using), and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the wine and cook until it’s mostly evaporated, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Step 2: Make the Soup and Add the Finishing Touches

finishing touches on french onion soup au gratin
  1. Preheat the broiler to toast the bread. Place the baguette slices on a broiler-safe baking tray and broil until both sides are golden, flipping once.
  2. To finish the soup, add the salt, pepper, stock, thyme, and bay leaf to the caramelized onion, and bring up to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pot, and let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. When the soup is done, remove the bay leaf. Ladle the soup into 4 broiler-safe crocks or ramekins. Place 2 slices of toasted baguette on each, and divide the cheese on top. Put the crocks onto a broiler-safe baking tray and broil to melt the cheese. Serve.
front view of french onion soup au gratin in crock with glass of white wine

Pro Tip: If You Don’t Have Broiler-Safe Ramekins or Crocks

an edible mosaic stamp logo 1200 square

Put the baguette slices onto a broiler-safe tray, sprinkle the cheese on top, and broil to melt the cheese. Place the cheesy toasts directly on top of the soup when serving.

Tips for the Best French Onion Soup

Other than the patience it takes to caramelize the onions, this French Onion Soup is really easy to make.

However, there are a few other tips I’ve discovered that turn a good French Onion Soup into a phenomenal one:

  • Add fresh herbs. Fresh thyme on its own is my favorite in this soup, but a mix of fresh rosemary and thyme is also absolutely delicious (just go a little lighter on the rosemary).
  • Use good quality beef stock. The flavor of this soup comes largely from the stock (and the onions of course), so the quality of the finished product will only be as good as what you put in. You don’t have to make your own stock though; there are quite a few good quality stocks on the market.
  • Don’t use sweet onions. Yellow cooking onions cook up super sweet as it is (caramelizing the onion brings out its natural sugars). I find that if you use sweet onions to start, your soup will be overly sweet.
  • Taste and season your with additional salt and pepper before you add the crouton and cheese. Otherwise it is much harder to adjust the seasoning!
  • Use good quality bread, but stale is ok. The bread is toasted and then placed in the soup, so it doesn’t have to be out-of-the-oven fresh. But using good quality bread does make a huge difference.
  • Use good quality cheese. I’ve made the mistake of using lower quality cheeses when making this, and the cheese always gets rubbery after broiling.  
  • Don’t skimp on the onion or the croutons. French Onion Soup is one of those soups that I think is better when it’s thicker, and by thicker I mean chock full of onions and bread. Otherwise, it’s just beef broth topped with cheese, friends.
crock of french onion soup au gratin with spoon

French Onion Soup Recipe FAQs

What Does Au Gratin Mean?

Au gratin is a French term that refers to a dish that’s topped with breadcrumbs and/or cheese, and then baked or broiled.

This soup is technically French Onion Soup au Gratin, as it’s topped with bread and cheese and then broiled. And if you want to say it in French, it’s Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée.

What’s the Best Wine for French Onion Soup?

You can use either a dry white wine or a dry red wine for this soup.

There are two things to keep in mind:

  1. The wine should be dry (not sweet).
  2. You should enjoy drinking it on its own (because its flavor will be concentrated).

My favorite wine for making this is Sauvignon Blanc, a dry white wine I fell in love with in Paris.

overhead view of table with french onion soup pot and crocks

What Do You Eat with French Onion Soup?

If you order this soup at a restaurant in France, it’s likely to come as a small portion served as an appetizer. Frequently, the main course would be bistro food, which is typically classic French food along the lines of coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon, steak frites, etc.

However, here in the U.S., if you’re serving a larger portion of this filling soup, you (or your guests) aren’t likely to want a heavy main course. If you’re entertaining with French Onion Soup, here are a few lighter side dishes you can serve with it:

  • Leafy green salad – I like using arugula because its peppery bite cuts through the richness of the soup well; dress it in the French style, with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh herbs
  • Roasted vegetables – you can go with a classic French side dish like ratatouille, but my personal favorite with this soup is roasted winter squash (such as roasted delicata squash)
  • Fresh bread – buy 2 baguette loaves because you’ll need 1 for topping the soup anyway
  • Wine – serve this soup along with a bottle of the wine you used to deglaze the pan after caramelizing the onion

More Cozy Soup Recipes to Make

bowl of french onion soup topped with toasted baguette and cheese

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Best Easy French Onion Soup Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
This is the best easy classic French Onion Soup recipe of my life: rich, flavorful beef broth infused with buttery caramelized onion and herbs, topped with toasted baguette slices and gooey melted Gruyère cheese. Comfort food doesn't get any better. And it takes just 1 hour to make!

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Ingredients
 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds yellow onions peeled and thinly sliced (about 6 1/2 to 7 cups sliced)
  • 1 clove garlic minced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc (or 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice + 1/2 cup water)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 baguette slices
  • 4 ounces Gruyère cheese shredded

Instructions
 

  • Add the oil and butter to a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the onion and stir to coat. Cook the onion until it is deep golden in color, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of water when it starts to stick to the pan, or when it starts to get too dark. Adjust the heat down as necessary so the onion doesn’t burn.
  • Once caramelized, stir in the garlic (if using), and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the wine and cook until it’s mostly evaporated, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the salt, pepper, stock, thyme, and bay leaf, and bring up to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pot, and let it cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the broiler to toast the bread. Place the baguette slices on a broiler-safe baking tray and broil until both sides are golden, flipping once.
  • When the soup is done, remove the bay leaf. Ladle the soup into 4 broiler-safe crocks or ramekins. Place 2 slices of toasted baguette on each, and divide the cheese on top.
  • Put the crocks onto a broiler-safe baking tray and broil to melt the cheese. Serve.

Notes

  • If You Don’t Have Broiler-Safe Crocks or Ramekins: Put the baguette slices onto a broiler-safe tray, sprinkle the cheese on top, and broil to melt the cheese. Place the cheesy toasts directly on top of the soup when serving.
  • What Kind of Wine to Use: Either a dry white wine or a dry red wine will work here. For whites, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Chardonnay are good options. For reds, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon all work well.

Nutrition

Calories: 447kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 1610mg | Potassium: 949mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 534IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 377mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Soup
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Best French Onion Soup, Classic French Onion Soup, Easy French Onion Soup, French Onion Soup, French Onion Soup Recipe

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Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating




47 Comments

  1. Becky Dixon says:

    5 stars
    Dinner guest PLEASER. I certainly will make this soup all winter long, especially when the temperature drops below zero at least twice a week.

  2. I love French onion soup and this recipe looks delicious. But I was listening to a tip from Ina Garten, make the bread into croutons not salad croutons, before putting the cheese on. It makes the soup so much easier to eat and enjoy. Try it!

    1. Nikki, Thank you very much! I like that method also, and it’s my favorite for when I’m in a hurry or cooking somewhere I don’t have access to boiler-safe bowls or ramekins. But when I have the time and can add the bread and cheese to the top and melt it directly onto the soup, it’s my absolute favorite! I love how the cheese smothers the whole top of the dish and melts down into the soup. :)

  3. Melissa Johnson says:

    I made this soup last week and it was incredible. Believe it or not, but i had actually never tried French onion Soup. The idea of eating a bowlful of cooked onions just didnt seem too appetizing to me. I saw the photo of this and it looked so good with the melty cheese and then I found out my husband really enjoys this soup. So, I decided I would attempt to make it and give it a taste as well. I LOVED IT! It was warm and comforting and so different then I had been anticipating. I truly enjoyed this and highly recommend it.

    1. Melissa, I’m so glad you enjoyed the soup!! French Onion is one of my all-time favorites, and you’re right, it is so warm and comforting! :)

  4. I love French onion soup, especially one that looks the way yours does.

  5. It has been years since I’ve made homemade French onion soup. Used to make it all the time, until I discovered Campbell’s was just as good ;) But from the looks of yours, Campbell’s is probably NOT just as good!

  6. Love french onion soup!!!!Beautiful presentation….I am hungry now :)

  7. sugar plum says:

    i love ur write up about one of the best loved soups…i love this soup and ur recipe sure sounds like i wanna simmer some soonnnnnnn……
    and Faith those awards are for u too dear,am addin u in a bit ok, how can i forget u dear…
    Am so glad u like Little Eloise ,i do too,oh gosh i love how ur lemon bars are coming together.
    and did the pic of Little Eloise ,show at begining of the post, actress Sofia as a little gurl? coz it aint showing on my bog here:-(((

    and thannnnxxxx a ton.

  8. French onion soup is one of my all time favorite soups! I love that you used Gruyere on top! Mmm Mmm!

  9. Fitness Surfer says:

    French onion delicious. I’ve always wondered how to make it, and it’s excellent for my immune system.

  10. French onion soup is just. So. Good.

    I would it eat rain or shine. I’m like a postal worker that way.

    I can’t believe they forecasting snow for you guys! Craziness.

  11. I really love french onion soup! I haven’t made it in so long. This looks so comforting and warming and delicious! I need to make some!

  12. there is NOTHING like an ooey gooey rich and chewy bowl of french onion soup. especially with my fave cheese – GRUYERE on top! what another fabulous looking recipe from you faith!

  13. My favorite soup of all time. I’ve made french onion soup a number of times, but not lately. I’m thinkin’ you inspired me to make that tonight. Your pics are superb-great job!

  14. Super tips, Faith! And what a lovely soup. It’s my sister’s favorite so I am sending her your URL right now. She will love this!
    Getting a tad warm down here for soup, but I’m copying it anyway! You’re right, the stock makes such a difference. A lot of us make our own chicken stock (which I think is the BEST), but not many of us make our own beef stock. Which brand do you prefer?
    I love all that cheese…it always makes an onion soup for me.

    1. Barbara, I like Pacific Natural but I sometimes have trouble finding it in my local grocery, so I’ve found that Swanson Beef Stock is also pretty good.

  15. Oh heavenly bowl of deliciousness! The pictures look so savory, full of flavor, and beautiful, I wish I had a spoon and a big big bowlful right now! I’ve only had french onion soup twice in my life, but both times were absolutely unforgettable. Something about the savory beef broth, the sharp bite of gruyere, and the sweetness of the caramelized onions that just makes me swoon.

    Your tips couldn’t be more true or more helpful! I am in complete agreement that the quality of your ingredients (cheese, beef broth) is absolutely crucial to a good turnout. Best advice. Don’t skimp on the big flavor notes!

  16. There really is SOMETHING about French onion soup … and I admit that I always order it in restaurants, even though it’s easy to make! I’m with you on using the good quality cheese to make the dish – can’t use anything less! :)

  17. A very lovely soup to enjoy with some crusty bread. I love all those onions there. It gives a natual sweetness to soups. I use a lot in my cooking.

  18. I have not had french onion soup in years. Your photos are making me crave it so bad! Love gruyere cheese, yes the better cheeses are so worth it. So much tastier. Perfect chilly weather food. Yes, upstate NY will surprise you sometimes! You know I went to Syracuse U right??

  19. Yum! French Onion is my favorite and yours looks mouth watering.
    Mimi

  20. 5 Star Foodie says:

    Mmm… your French onion soup looks absolutely perfect!

  21. YUm!! I am making this soon once the weather turns cold again!

  22. Veronica M. says:

    I have never had or made french onion soup–can you believe it?! I was gonna make it several months ago and had the bread and cheese but never did. I really need to now b/c I just can’t resist pictures like that! Thank you for the tips.

  23. Oh! I love French onion soup…but never made it at home…after seeing yours…I’ll sure to try it. Thanks Faith for all the tips :-)

  24. A fantastic French soup recipe made with some fine Swiss Gruyère cheese ;-P! Delicious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  25. You’re such a talented chef Faith, onion soup looks amazing! And that ceramic pot, just perfect for it, isn’t it?

  26. as a french-onion-soup virgin, i can tell you that i’ll certainly be applying those excellent tips when i make my first batch. it’ll be all about the cheese and herbs for me. :)

  27. This looks amazing! I, too, always order French Onion Soup when it’s on a menu. I can’t resist that ooey-gooey, salty, bubbly cheese! MMM!!!!!!!!

  28. I totally agree with your tips, especially the don’t skimp on the onions :) I can see yours is generous with the onions as mine is-there’s nothing worse than a thin broth with a few pieces of onion at the bottom. I love the richness of a good French onion soup!

  29. Faith! My darling! We must have ESP! We used the SAME French Onion soup pot! lol!

  30. Your French Onion soup recipe really rocks. This is a great easy recipe. I totally agree that using fresh herbs is a great idea.

  31. French onion soup is fabulous indeed! Wish I had some of yours to get me through these cooler temps…

  32. I love the ceramic bowl you used! A lovely presentation, but needs more oozing cheesy goodness. :)

  33. Faith

    This recipe is heaven-sent! I just have all the ingredients, the weather has turned a bit cooler and it is a big favorite around here (especially with my son) so, thanks for all your great tips and it is on the list this coming week!

  34. French Onion soup is probably my favorite soup in the world… I always ask my mom to make it for me when it’s cold out. I’m looking forward to when I’ll be in Europe next winter and will have a nice big bowl of it in front of the fireplace!

  35. Wonderful informative post. Love French Onion Soup. Great job with the photos. Fantastic choice of cheese one of my favorites. Cheers!

  36. Heavenly Housewife says:

    What an absolutely decadent looking soup. Look at all that delicious cheese!

  37. That is such good advice,Faith. I used vidalias once and it was awful… so sweet in such a bad way. I always use beef and chicken… must try straight beef next time… yours looks perfect.. of course!!

  38. MMmmm, I LOVE French Onion soup. It’s somehow never occurred to me to make my own! Yours looks delicious!

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