French Onion Soup

This step-by-step recipe makes the best French Onion Soup you've ever eaten. Bring fine French cooking into your own kitchen. Let me show you how easy it is!
Course: Soup
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 servings


  • 6 Vidalia onions or other sweet onions
  • 3 red onions [See Note 1]
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt , more or less to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic , minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons Cognac [See Note 2]
  • 1/2 to 1 cup white wine [See Note 3]
  • 6 cups low sodium beef cooking stock [See Note 4]
  • 2 thyme sprigs (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 9 sprigs parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups Gruyere , Emmental (regular) Swiss, Fontina, or Jack cheese, grated or sliced [See Note 5]
  • Artisan bread , like French baguette, croutons, or rusks


  • In a large heavy-bottomed stockpot, melt the butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until softened.
  • Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to sauté until browned and caramelized (but not burnt), about 30-40 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  • Add garlic and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for an additional 1 minute.
  • Pour in the cognac (optional) and dry white wine to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook off the wine until the onions are almost dry again.
  • Add the cooking stock, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and parsley.
  • Cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer for at least 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Discard the bay leaves, sprigs of thyme, and parsley.
  • Preheat oven broiler.
  • When ready to serve the soup, place your oven-safe bowls [See Note 6] or crocks on a rimmed baking sheet. Ladle the soup into each of them, then top with a baguette slices (or croutons, or rusks) and cheese (I used about 1/4 cup shredded cheese for each). Place on an oven rack about 6 inches from the heat and broil for 2-4 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Remove and serve immediately.


  1. You may use all sweet Vidalia onions, but I like the combination of Vidalia and milder red onions. If you prefer not to use red onions, opt for all vidalia onions.
  2. Cognac is traditional to the recipe but may be omitted without substitution. 
  3. Sauvignon Blanc, a dry white wine, may be replaced with any other dry white wine (see below), extra cooking stock, or water.
    • Chardonnay:
      • Chardonnays grown in a cool climate, will have more flavors like citrus, peach, and melon.
      • Chardonnays grown in a warm climate will have more tropical fruit aromas like mango, kiwi, star fruit, and pineapple.
      • Oak-aged Chardonnays are rich, full-bodied and have additional flavors of vanilla, butterscotch, spice, nuts and of course, oak.
    • Pinot Grigio: The primary fruit flavors in Pinot Grigio are lime, lemon, pear, white nectarine and apple.
    • Pinot Gris: Pinot Gris hails from the Alsace region of France is typically rich and often sweet, with rich, spicy tropical fruit aromas.
    • Pinot Blanc: A semi-dry white wine that is often compared to Chardonnay. It is typically crisp and refreshing and, depending on where it's made. Pinot Blanc can be sweet or have nutty flavors.
    • Sémillon: Sémillon is a golden-skinned grape used to make dry and sweet white wines, mostly in France and Australia. The primary fruit flavors in Sémillon wine are lemon, apple, pear and green papaya.
  4. Beef, Vegetable, or Chicken Stock: Traditionally, beef stock is used as the base of French Onion Soup. However, if you prefer chicken or vegetable those may be easily substituted in the broth.
  5. Cheese choices:
    • Gruyere: A moderate-fat Swiss cheese with a rich, sweet, nutty flavor. It is usually aged for 10 - 12 months and has a golden brown rind and a firm pale yellow interior with well-spaced, medium-sized holes. It's aged in 100-pound wheels that are later cut into wedges before it heads to market. Gruyere is a product of France as well as several other countries.
    • Emmental Swiss: This is Switzerland's oldest and important Swiss cheese. Both Switzerland and France make great Emmental cheese with mellow, buttery, and nutty flavor suitable for almost any use. Made from partially skim unpasteurized cow's milk. The rind is yellow-beige with a pale yellow interior with marble-sized holes.
    • Fontina: This is one of Italy's great cheeses. It is semi-firm yet creamy. Made from cow's milk, it is about 45% fat. The rind is dark golden brown with a pale yellow interior and tiny holes. Fontina has a mildly nutty flavor. It melts easily and smoothly and is perfect for almost any use. Fontina is also made in France, Denmark, and the United States.
    • Jack Cheese: A semi-soft cheese with a buttery-ivory color and a mild flavor reminiscent of an American Muenster. Unaged, Jack cheese has high moisture and good melting properties.
  6. No ovenproof bowls? No problem! If you don't have oven-safe bowls or ramekins for the soup, don't worry—you can just top your soup with cheese toasts you broiled in the oven. Both methods work great!


Calories: 0kcal | Carbohydrates: 0g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 0mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 0g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is sourced from the USDA Food Database.