Soupe à l’oignon is one of those French recipes that sounds intimidating and a bit wrong. Onion topped with cheese? In a soup? Rest assured those Michelin-starred French chefs are not crazy, French onion soup is a recipe that is absolutely divine. And it is actually quite easy to make at home.
Legend has it became famous after being served to Stanislas Leszczynski, the Duke of Lorraine and ex-King of Poland. He was served the dish at an inn on his way to visit his daughter, Marie. Marie just happened to be married to French King Louis XV.
Apparently Stanislas was so taken with the soup, he demanded the recipe and had it prepared and served to the King, who adored it as well. And thus a culinary delight was born.
(Stanislas also is said to have influenced the creation of the famous Baba au rhum dessert, so you can make it a Stanislas theme night! Or not.)
☞ READ MORE: ABC of French Cuisine (the Food Dictionary)
i) Types of onions
The question that comes up most often for French onion soup is what type of onions to use. The richest flavor in the soup is at the point where the onions carmelize and are slightly sweet. For this, choose either sweet onions like Vidalia or yellow onions. Red onions, on the other hand, have a stronger taste and can be slightly bitter even after carmelizing.
Cook the onions till they are lightly brown in color so that they are perfectly caramelized. If you are not sure what to cook them in, I recommend the French brand Le Creuset which makes a lovely dutch oven is perfect for cooking the onions evenly. (It comes in a variety of colors, but I like the blue!)
ii) Type of cheese
The traditional French recipe usually uses gruyère or saint-nectaire. But other hard cheeses like comté, emmental, or cantal are also delicious.
Other great options are mimolette, grated parmesan or beaufort. You can read more about the different types of French cheeses here.
iii) Type of bread
You cannot go wrong with good ole’ baguette in French onion soup. But any other country-style bread like ciabatta or rye bread with a hard crust will also do.
The bread is the base for the cheese in the soup, so you want a “sturdier” bread that will not disintegrate too quickly in the soup.
Frequently asked questions
What main dishes should you serve with French onion soup?
What drinks should you serve?
Can you freeze the soup?
You could freeze the soup (without the cheese and bread of course), but I would recommend just freezing the cooked onions.
Then before making the soup, thaw the onions for 10 minutes and add the stock and spices following the recipe below.
- 4 large onions (or 5 medium ones)
- 2/3 cup of grated cheese (eg. gruyère, saint nectaire, mimolette, comté, emmental, or cantal)
- 4 slices Country-style bread (baguette or ciabatta)
- 4.5 cups of Poultry or beef broth
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine (eg. pinot blanc, pinot gris)
- 30 g Butter
- 1 tablespoon of flour
- 1.5 chopped cloves of garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- chives or sprigs of parsley (for decoration)
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Peel the onions and cut them into thin rings.
- Melt the butter in a pot (which has a lid) and cook the onions for 10 min until they become translucent.
- Sprinkle the onions with flour, mix and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, and pour in the broth and the white wine.
- Cover the pot with the lid and cook for about 35 minutes.
- While the soup is cooking, cut the bread into small slices and lightly apply olive oil to both sides of the bread.
- Toast the bread in the oven for about 5 to 7 minutes until lightly browned.
- Pour the soup into 4 individual bowl.
- Float a slice of bread on top of the soup.
- Sprinkle the top of the bread with grated Gruyère cheese.
- Place the 4 bowls of soup in the oven for 3-4 minutes till the cheese melts.
- Remove from the oven and add some chives or parsley for decoration.
- Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 368Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 631mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 13g
Note: We are not certified nutritionists and these estimates are approximate. Each individual’s dietary needs and restrictions are unique to the individual. You are ultimately responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. This website is written and produced for informational purposes only.
If you enjoyed that, check out our other easy French recipes that are classic and easy to prepare. Bon appétit and à bientôt !
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