French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Sweet caramalised onions are the star of this classic soup. It's not quick or odorless to cook, but is worth it.

I'd been put off French Onion Soup by a packet instant soup mix many years ago. This is the first time I'd tried proper french onion soup!


  • Peel the onions, chop in half lengthways. Then slice each half lengthways into 3 mm slices.
  • Sweat down the onions:
    • In a large (30 cm diameter or more) saucepan, add the onions with the butter and salt.
    • Place a lid on the pan and put on a low heat.
    • Sweat the onions down like this for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes
  • After an hour, remove the lid from the pan. Stir in the flour and black pepper.
  • Leave the lid off and cook down the onions for another hour. Remember to check and stir the onions often. They'll need more frequent attention in the last 30 minutes of cooking; I found this out the hard way.
  • Make the croutons whilst the onions are cooking down:
    • Slice the french baguette into 16 (2 cm thick) slices. Some prefer this on the diagonal, but I think for this it looks better sliced parallel to the length.
    • Pour the olive oil into a small bowl just bigger than the croutons. Dip each side of the slices quickly into the oil, and wipe off any excess back into the bowl with your finger.
    • Place the slices onto a backing sheet and shove in a preheated 170 c oven. Keep an eye on them and remove when golden, which is usually after 30 minutes.
  • Now that the onions are caramelised and golden, add the port and brandy. Cook this down for 5 minutes.
  • Add the beef stock, water, soy sauce and vinegar to the pan. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil.
  • Stir well and taste. You want to balance the sweetness, saltiness and acidity. Add more sugar, salt and vinegar depending on what you taste. A homemade stock is likely to need more salt than a bought one. I find the soup if usually sweet enough from the onions, so don't normally add any sugar. It's up to you.
  • Place a lid on the soup and remove from the heat.
  • Sprinkle half of the gruyère on the croutons, place under a hot grill until melted and golden. Set aside.
  • Ladle the soup into serving bowls, sprinkle the remaining gruyère on top and place under the grill until melted and golden.
  • Place the croutons onto the soup and serve.


  • Only ever use yellow onions, red onions won't work. They turn a dull colour and don't caramelise as well.
  • Most recipes call for the croutons and cheese to be placed in the soup, then the whole thing grilled. I don't like this because it gives a chance for the crouton to rehydrate. Anything to make cooking less stressful is surely a good thing.
  • Crushing garlic into the oil the french baguette is dipped in to is a great addition.

Main Ingredients

Yellow Onion
1.5 kg
50 g
1/4 tsp
Plain Flour
3 tbsp
Beef Stock
500 ml
300 ml
Black Pepper
1/2 tsp
4 tbsp
4 tbsp
Light Soy Sauce
2 tbsp
Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp, use balsamic otherwise

Croutons Ingredients

French Baguette
2 medium
Olive Oil
about 2 cups
120g, finely grated

Recipe Information

  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 bowls
Recipe published on .