Easy French Onion Soup

Easy French onion soup recipe

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  • Total: 85 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 75 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Yields: 4 bowls
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
154 Calories
8g Fat
15g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 154
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 5g 24%
Cholesterol 21mg 7%
Sodium 685mg 30%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Protein 6g
Calcium 97mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This easy onion soup is a classic French recipe a crisp bread and ooey-gooey cheese topping. In this version, condensed beef broth gives the soup its bold flavor. If the broth tastes too strong for your tastes, simply add some water. Or use a good quality homemade or store-bought beef stock, preferably low sodium. You can always taste and add extra salt before the soup is ready to serve.

A great-tasting onion soup takes time, so avoid making it if you are in a hurry. Caramelizing onions to a deep, rich, flavorful brown can take 45 minutes or longer. While it takes some time, the soup is easy to fix with just five ingredients and is so delicious and satisfying. This is an excellent soup to serve as for lunch, and it's hearty enough to serve for dinner with a tossed green salad or Caesar salad.

If your soup bowls can stand the heat from the preheated broiler—made with sturdy stoneware, cast iron, or porcelain—you can broil the bread and cheese directly on the hot soup.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 cups sliced onions (about 4 to 5 medium onions)
  • 4 (10 1/2-ounce) cans condensed beef broth
  • 4 slices French bread (approximately 1 inch thick)
  • 4 tablespoons Gruyere cheese (shredded, plus more for serving)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for French onion soup
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. In a large skillet or saute pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Sauté the sliced onions for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until very soft and golden brown in color. Stir them frequently. If they are browning too quickly or scorching, turn the heat to low. It takes time to get that sweet caramelization, so don't try to rush it.

    Onions in skillet
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  3. In a medium saucepan or Dutch oven, combine the beef broth with the cooked onion and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

    Combine beef broth
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  4. Meanwhile, heat the broiler and place the French bread slices on a foil-lined baking pan. Toast the French bread about 4 inches from the heat until golden brown on both sides.

    Heat broiler and bread
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. Sprinkle each slice evenly with the Gruyere cheese. Return to broiler and broil just until cheese is melted and bubbling.

    Sprinkle each slice with cheese
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack 
  6. To serve, pour the onion soup into four individual soup bowls. Float a slice of toasted French bread, cheese side up, in each bowl and sprinkle with extra cheese.

    French onion soup
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  7. Serve and enjoy!

    French onion soup
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls to add liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven-safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.

Tips

  • It takes time to caramelize onions to a rich, sweet, golden brown, so it shouldn't be rushed. Keep the heat low or medium-low and turn the onions frequently until they are soft and evenly browned. They should not be crusty or burnt.
  • French onion soup may be frozen—without the bread and cheese—for up to three months in an airtight container.
  • To make it in advance, prepare the onions and soup a day or two before you plan to serve it. Prepare the bread and cheese just before serving as you reheat the soup.

Recipe Variations

  • If you don't have Gruyére cheese or can't find it locally, you may substitute with another type of Swiss cheese such as compté, Emmental, Beaufort, or Jarlsberg. Mozzarella will melt but lacks the flavor of Gruyére. Mild cheddar won't melt as nicely as Gruyere or mozzarella, but it is a good budget-friendly alternative.
  • For more complex flavor, add a splash of dry sherry or Marsala wine to the soup about five minutes before it's ready.
  • As soon as the French bread is toasted, rub each slice with the cut side of a clove of garlic before topping with cheese. Or spread the bread lightly with garlic butter.
  • Taste and add a dash of Worcestershire sauce to the finished soup.
  • Thyme goes well with onions. Add 2 to 3 sprigs of thyme to the soup when you add the broth; remove the thyme sprigs before serving. Alternatively, add about 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme to the soup.