Before this attempt, I had only tried to make French Onion Soup – soupe l’oignon – once. It’s my favorite soup, so you’d think after failing, miserably, once I’d try to make it again. So finally I did! I’m so happy my first failed attempt didn’t haunt me my entire life. Our trip to Paris felt like a calling for me to move there. Someday. But lately I’ve really been missing Paris and wanting to visit again just for the comforts of things like croissant and coffee in the morning, french onion soup for lunch. And this, friends, really tastes like the soupe l’oignon in Paris.
I also feel like I learned a whole lot about french onion soup this time, which includes:
- Yep, beef broth is definitely the way to go.
- Butter. Lot’s of butter with those onions.
- Yep, you really do need that splash of red wine.
- Nope, don’t need to add sugar.
- And, the size of the bread relative to the size of the crock is how they get the cheese to stay on top of the soup and not sink to the bottom.
Learn from me, friends, learn from me! Get the right size bread and the right size crock. I really should have added three slices of bread to each of these crocks to keep the gruyere cheese from sinking to the bottom.
I think the most time consuming part of making the french onion soup is really getting the onions to caramelize. It’s a lot of onions, like 6 medium yellow onions, sliced thinly and caramelized in butter and salt. You’ve got to be patient here and let them do their thing. Don’t rush it! And don’t cut the time short. Allowing the onions to really caramelize develops their flavor and this whole soup is based on those onions.
It’s also not recommended to add garlic to the onions. I suppose you could, however, you really do want the onions to shine.
I’ve seen some onion soups that have herbs in the base, like thyme. While I do love the flavor of thyme, especially with onions, I’ve got to tell you – I’m not a fan of the mouth feel you get from herbs in the soup. I just want broth and onions. Okay, cheese and bread, too! So I decided to garnish with the thyme – it really does add a little something to the whole scent of the dish and thus the whole experience.
As I mentioned earlier, it definitely helps to have a slice of bread that takes up more surface area of the crock you are using. This makes sure the cheese really sits on top and gets nice and crispy in the oven. Just make sure you are using oven safe crocks or bowls when you make this! And slide a tray under there, which will just save you on clean up and make it easier to get the crocks in and out of the oven without major spillage.
French Onion Soup Recipe
- 6 medium to large onions
- 2-4 tbsp butter or more to keep the pan from being dry
- 1 tsp salt
- 48 oz beef broth
- 1/2 c red wine
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 1 baguette, sliced
- 4-6 oz gruyere grated
- sprigs of thyme, for garnish
- With a mandolin, thinly slice the onions.
- In a dutch oven or large pot, melt 2 tbsp butter.
- Once the butter is melted, add the onions and stir to coat. Sprinkle salt.
- Continue to work the onions until caramelized, adding butter as necessary. You will want to make sure the pan has some moisture through it.
- When the onions are a deep golden, caramel color, add the beef broth and wine to the pot. Stir.
- Bring to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toast baguette slices in oven, toaster or pan.
- Taste soup for salt and pepper, adjust to your preference.
- Place crocks on baking sheet; place sliced baguette in the crocks.
- Pour soup evenly in the crocks until full.
- Top each crock with grated gruyere.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese has some golden brown.
- Top with sprigs of thyme and enjoy hot!