One of my favourite treats when we go out for lunch is ordering a French Onion Soup.
It is possibly the messiest, most indulgent appetizer option that you can eat in front of another person. It is impossible to get reasonable portions of the cheese-bread combination on a spoon, not to mention the awkward slurp needed to get all of the broth and stringy cheese bits off of the spoon…
But if you’ve ever had French Onion Soup before, you know: it’s worth it.
Naturally, I think the solution to avoiding that awkward, slurpy, sloppy restaurant experience is to learn how to make French Onion Soup at home.
There are a few simple tricks to making a decadent bowl of French Onion Soup at home, starting with caramelizing the onions.
Simply throw two chopped onions and two tablespoons of butter into a dutch oven, or oven-proof stock pot, and sautee until translucent and soft over medium heat. You can stop here if you’re in a rush, but for an even richer flavour add 1 teaspoon of sugar or maple syrup and stir frequently for 3-5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the onions have taken on a lush chocolatey colour.
I personally think garlic belongs in most things, so at this point I add two chopped cloves of garlic and stir frequently until they too take on the brown caramelization.
At this point, I add a bit of wine and let that boil down while I prepare the cheese and bread, but you can skip that step if you want to make your French Onion Soup without alcohol, and just take the onion and garlic mixture right off of the heat.
You can add as much bread and cheese as you choose — I prefer about 2-3 cups of torn bread and 1/2 cup of grated cheese for a family-sized portion. I tend to only use the bread crusts for their chewy texture in the soup and I like using either a Gruyere cheese or a mozzarella.
Add the torn bread to the dutch oven and pour 4 cups of beef broth overtop. Lightly season with salt and pepper, and then top with the cheese.
However, if you want to really develop the flavour of the broth with those caramelized onions and garlic, you can cook, covered, for 30 minutes to an hour, and then take the dutch oven’s lid off for a final ten minute crisp up.
Portion out and serve hot.
This easy French Onion Soup recipe makes enough for a family to eat with a side salad for a meal, or as a hearty appetizer.
- 2 red onions, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (or sugar)
- 1/4 cup red or white wine, optional
- 2-3 cups bread cubes
- 1/2 cup Gruyere or mozzarella cheese
- 4 cups beef stock
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Melt butter in dutch over over medium heat and add onions. Sautee until translucent and add maple syrup, stirring frequently until onions become sticky and chocolate-coloured.
- Add garlic until it takes on the same characteristics as the onions, then pour in wine.
- Grate desired amount of cheese and tear up bread cubes.
- Add bread cubes to dutch oven, pour in beef stock and use a wooden spoon to push down any pieces of bread that stick out of the broth.
- Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the soup, place lid on dutch oven, and remove from stove burner to oven for 30 minute to one hour (the longer the better for rich flavour).
- Take the dutch oven lid off for the final 5-10 minutes to crisp up the cheese a bit.
- Remove from oven, portion out, and serve hot.
- Serves 4-6, depending on portion sizes.