French Onion Soup Recipe (2024)

By Sara Bonisteel

Updated April 4, 2024

French Onion Soup Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour 20 minutes
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour 30 minutes
Read community notes

In 1954, what was then called the Food News Department of The New York Times released a pamphlet simply called “Soups,” which had 20 recipes for soups “thick and thin, hot and cold,” including those for minestrone, shrimp bisque and this French onion soup. We’ve updated the recipe adding sherry and wine to layer in more flavors. The bulk of the time is spent on caramelizing the onions, a process that always takes longer than it seems it should. But it’s worth the wait.

Why You Should Trust This Recipe

Sara Bonisteel caramelized nearly 10 pounds of onions to achieve this, the ideal soup. Adapting this from a recipe first published in The Times in 1954, she added both wine and sherry for even more depth of flavor.

Learn: How to Make Soup

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Yield:4 to 6 servings

  • 3tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 to 4large red or yellow onions (about 3 pounds), peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¾teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2quarts beef stock (8 cups)
  • 1cup dry white wine
  • 1tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 8 to 12(½-inch) slices French bread (from 1 loaf)
  • cups grated Gruyère cheese

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)

397 calories; 17 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 34 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 12 grams sugars; 20 grams protein; 1216 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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French Onion Soup Recipe (2)


Make the recipe with us

  1. Melt butter in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and ½ teaspoon salt, stir and cover, letting onions soften for 5 minutes. Remove lid and let onions caramelize until golden brown over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Adjust heat if onions are browning too quickly. The caramelization process may take 45 to 60 minutes.

  2. Step


    Meanwhile, warm broth in a saucepan over low heat.

  3. Step


    Once onions are caramelized, add wine and sherry to the pot and allow mixture to come to boil. Stir in flour and let thicken for a minute or two.

  4. Step


    Slowly add warm broth, ¼ teaspoon salt and the pepper to the onion mixture and boil uncovered for 10 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Step


    Heat the broiler, and arrange individual ovenproof casseroles on a baking sheet. Ladle soup into casseroles, and cover top with bread slices. Sprinkle each casserole generously with Gruyère.

  6. Step


    Broil for a minute or two, watching carefully, until cheese melts and browns. Serve immediately.


  • You can prepare the soup through step 4 up to 2 months in advance. Thaw and reheat, then top with the bread and cheese and broil to serve.



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Cooking Notes


Simplify by making overnight caramelized onions. Fill slow cooker with 4-5 lbs sliced onions, pour 1/3 cup olive over the onions & mix well. Cover with lid and cook on HIGH for 7-9 hours. Yes it does indeed needs to be High. I had my doubts at first, but I've done this probably at least 20 times and the onions cook way down & caramelize beautifully. I haven't tried this yet with my new multi-cooker but plan to try that next using slow cooker function.


1 Tbsp of Sherry is a very small amount, it won't add any significant flavour. Also, if Sherry boils for a long time, it completely loses its aroma. I suggest adding 2 tbsp on each individual soup dish just before broiling (that's the way people have fancy consomme in Madrid).


When I make French Onion Soup, I cut the bread into crouton sized pieces and then brown them in butter in a large skillet on the stove. I use them in place of the toasted bread. It makes the soup easier to eat--no cutting through hard French bread crusts with a spoon--and I really like the extra flavor imparted by the croutons. And, I save some croutons for the leftover soup.


Great and easy recipe. I suggest doubling the onions and mixing in some leeks. Also, since I don't have oven proof casseroles, I toasted the bread with the cheese on top (in toaster oven), and served on regular soup bowls.


I used vegetable stock plus a little soy sauce and a little bit of Worcestershire sauce instead of the beef broth to make it vegetarian. It was amazing! Thank you for the wonderful recipe.


Toast bread first.


If you have it, use bacon fat rather than butter to carmelize the onions. Makes a huge flavor difference.


This soup is marvelous, and perfect for a chilly day. I followed the recipe faithfully and used homemade beef stock. The hardest part for me was slicing those onions. My eyes were tearing so much, I had to put on a scuba mask to finish this step.


Loved this recipe. Finally somebody admits how long it takes to actually caramelize onions! The flavor is wonderful. I did cut the amount of beef broth to 6 Cups, because I agree with other cooks, there were just not enough onions to sustain 8 cups of broth. Next time I will double the onions.


Great flavor but I’d say to double the onions.


Several folks thought the amount of onions called for was insufficient. Note it says “ 3 or 4 large onions ( about 3lbs.). My onions were a little larger then a baseball and it took 9 to yield 3 lbs.


Delish and relatively easy. I took the advise of some posters here and added an onion and a leek. I also added a couple tablespoons of brandy with the wine and sherry, and some thyme with the stock. After all the stock was in, I let the soup reduce for 30 min. Oh, and I toasted the bread with butter under the broiler before adding to the soup. YUM!


Don't get super hung up on the quantities in recipes. Treat it as more of a basic guideline with orderly steps. It's cooking, not science. This is a really good recipe for this soup. I just used the ingredients listed here in varying quantities and it was fantastic. I really, really, REALLY suggest making your own beef (or other) broth for this. Harris Teeter sells 2 lb. bags of beef bones. I used two bags, boil/rinse, roast, boil/simmer with shallots, garlic, thyme for 5 hours. Fantastic.

Lori B

Broth and stock are used interchangeably in this recipe; they are not the same. Broth is made with vegetables, stock is made with just bones. I think the latter would be best here.

Lisa Kav

French onion soup is heavily dependent on using good broth. Do yourself a favor and make it. Great recipe.


To avoid tears, buy onions that are as squat and wide as you can. At least for me, the elongated bulb shape is almost certain to produce tears.


Highly recommend weighing your onions after you've sliced them - if you only use 3-4 onions as the recipe says, you won't end up with 3# of sliced onions. For us, 6 very large onions was 3 pounds when skinned & sliced. This was the perfect amount. It took about 75 minutes for the onions to caramelize. I also added about a Tablespoon each of balsamic vinegar and Worchestershire with the broth to add depth, and used homemade bone broth (which I also highly recommend if you're so inclined.)


Double the onions and toast bread before adding it to soup

Island Girl

As for slicing onions, I always put them in the refrigerator to chill. There are no tears when slicing them. Works all of the time.

Jeanne Marie

You gotta make sure you cut the onions towards the root (or top), not like you would for slices or “half” slices for burgers or sandwiches. Cutting them towards the root helps them to keep their shape and they don’t melt away into nothing.


Adding the flour in this recipe is not intended to thicken the soup, but rather to absorb some of the fat (butter/oil) used in carmelizing the onions. A typical roux is intended to thicken and the perfect ratio for a roux is 1:1 fat:flour, but use your common sense about how little flour you need to just absorb some of the fat in this soup. Add that little bit of flour directly to the fully carmelized onions prior to adding anything else, allowing the flour to "cook" because flour is raw.

Emily T.

I use 8 yellow onions, 8 TB salted butter, 1/2 cup sherry, 2 cups white wine, 12 cups beef stock, 2-3 TB flour. Salt to taste but not much needed. It comes out perfect!

Harriet in Iowa City

Is there a particular onion that is better for the recipe??

Jenny G

I took page from chef friend: caramelize onions on stove till they just start to get hint of brown, then spread across a cookie sheet & salt 1-1/2 tsp + into oven. Salt will draw out water to help caramelize. Temp 175-250, dep on how often you stir. 1st time I did@ 200, then had to leave to go somewhere after a couple of hours so turned to 175. 2nd time @ 225. Stir every 30-60 mins for 4-5 hours. Edges will caramelize 1st then keep close eye--you'll get jammy,delish sweet yum you can eat w/ fork


Try making caramelized onions on outdoor grill....


Can you use a crockpot to carmelize onions for this soup

Gayle Teget

When I make French Onion soup, I partook the onions in the microwave on high for about 10 minutes. It shortens the time to full carmelization on the stove.


Try a variation by using mushroom stock. Also sherry should be stirred in right before serving, as someone else pointed out its contribution is lessened. A bit of soy sauce is also amps up the layers of flavors.


I have used a recipe just like this and make it in a crock pot. It’s better than any restaurant I have been to. It can be found in a recipe book by a well known chef in the 1970s.

Natalie Bluestein

This soup is so delicious and easy, I'd make it every night if I could!

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French Onion Soup Recipe (2024)


How do you deepen the flavor of French onion soup? ›

My personal go-tos include worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, and brandy. Each deepens the flavor of french onion soup. Balsamic vinegar and soy sauce are other great options.

How do you make French onion soup less bland? ›

Fix a bland onion soup by using supermarket broth and mild white onions, tasteless oil for sauteeing, stale plain white bread instead of croutons, and mild white cheese. Start by reducing the broth. Simmering out some water will intensify the flavor of the broth. Once you get it to the right point, add some salt.

Why is my French onion soup so bland? ›

If you don't add enough salt, pepper, or other herbs and spices, the soup may taste bland.

Why do you put baking soda in French onion soup? ›

The caramelized onions for this soup cook more quickly due to a pinch of baking soda but still have that deep, slow-cooked flavor. Topping the soup with hot, cheesy toasts prepared while the soup simmers, eliminates the need to bake the soup in specialty French onion soup bowls.

What can I add to soup for depth of flavor? ›

"If your broth is lacking in savory richness, try adding roasted onion, tomato paste, mushrooms, seaweed, soy sauce, or miso. These ingredients add umami flavor and depth to broth," she says.

What spices add depth to soup? ›

Herbs and sources add flavor, aroma, and intensity to the soup broth. You can pick fresh or dried herbs like basil for tomato-based soups or fresh parsley for clear broths. You may also add more spices like turmeric, ground ginger, ground paprika, or nutmeg for a touch of spice and color to your soup broth.

Can I use chicken broth instead of beef broth in French onion soup? ›

It is better to use chicken or vegetable broth rather than sub-standard beef broth. Best to use low salt and add salt if required. 4. Bread - The idea with the recipe is that you can use a spoon to cut through the bread into the soup to eat it (see video).

Why do you add flour to French onion soup? ›

Onion soup, at its very essence, is nothing more than onions and water boiled together. Period, done, finished, everything added from that point on is pure opinion. Caramelizing the onions brings out sugars, and makes a more luxurious silky and sweet soup, adding flour gently thickens and provides body.

How do you keep cheese from sinking in French onion soup? ›

French Onion Soup Tips

Serve the French Onion Soup immediately after broiling to enjoy the gooey, melted cheese at its best. The longer the soup sits, the more likely the cheese may start to sink. Make-Ahead. You can make the soup broth ahead of time and wait to top them with the bread and cheese when ready to enjoy.

Why are my onions not browning for French onion soup? ›

If the onions are steaming and not browning after the first 5 minutes, turn the heat up to high. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring only occasionally so the onions have a chance to brown. After those 10 to 12 minutes, they should be soft and wilted and starting to turn brown all over.

Why does my French onion soup taste sweet? ›

Onions are very sweet, especially when they're cooked down, and that is the main purpose of onion soup. The sweetness can be balanced by adding some dry wine or vinegar. Taste as you go and don't overdo it. A little salt will balance it too, but don't forget that the grated cheese you will top it with is salty.

What is a substitute for bay leaves in French onion soup? ›

If you don't have any bay leaves on hand, there are a couple of other seasonings that could still provide a similar, herby taste to upgrade the flavor of your French onion soup. Oregano and thyme can both make for suitable swaps for bay leaves. Both are boldly flavored and a little bitter, similar to bay leaves.

Should you caramelize onions for French onion soup? ›

Caramelizing the onions slowly in butter until they're rich golden brown (but not so dark as to taste bitter) produces the sweetest, most flavorful results. If you don't have homemade beef stock, the recipe's suggested homemade or store-bought chicken stock substitutions are better than most store-bought beef stock.

Why do you put lemon juice in soup? ›

But as the publication explains, lemon juice adds more than just tartness. For chicken soup in particular, lemon juice balances out the more rich and savory flavors, adding an overall brightness to the taste.

How do you thicken French onion soup? ›

If you want to thicken your French onion soup, you can add a bit of flour. Combine a couple of tablespoons of flour with a teaspoon of salt and whisk in about a quarter cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened.

How do you doctor up canned French onion soup? ›

Infusing the soup with a richer taste is as easy as quickly sauteing crushed garlic before pouring the soup in. Some soft, buttery garlic sauteed in earthy olive oil is the perfect addition to enrich canned French onion soup.

How do you make soup taste stronger? ›

Use fresh vegetables, high-quality meats or broth, and fresh herbs to add depth of flavor. Add acidity: A squeeze of lemon or lime juice, a dash of vinegar, or a splash of wine can brighten the flavors of a soup and make it taste more complex.


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