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French Onion Soup

Printed From: Foods of the World Forum
Category: Europe
Forum Name: France
Forum Discription: Whether it is provincial peasant cooking or classic haute cuisine, this is the place to discuss the flavors of France.
Printed Date: 19 July 2019 at 17:00

Topic: French Onion Soup
Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Subject: French Onion Soup
Date Posted: 02 May 2011 at 15:05
Note - The recipe in this opening post is the one that I used the first time I ever attempted French Onion Soup. As I've learned and experimented more, my knowledge, experience and method for French onion soup have evolved, leading to some very nice improvements. This soup is very good, but there is much more out there than I originally thought. Please read this entire thread, if you are interested in learning about the journey!

John's French Onion Soup
Recipe shared by John Rivera

6 or 7 softball-sized white onions
6 to 8 cups double-strength beef stock or broth
4 to 5 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups merlot
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoons flour
3 or 4 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely-ground black pepper
*Thick slices of stale, crusty, French-type bread; if none available, you can toast fresh bread
*Equal parts Parmesan and Swiss cheeses, coarsely grated - do not use the pre-grated stuff in a can, it will burn (you can also substitute the Swiss with 50/50 Romano/Mozzarella)


Slice onions into rings 1/4- to 1/2-inches wide and separate them.

In a large, heavy pot, such as an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, melt the butter and oil over medium heat. Add all onions, stirring to coat evenly. Reduce the heat a bit, then cover and sauté gently for at least 45 minutes, or until the onions are well carmelised; reduce the heat to low, if necessary. Let onions slowly caramelise, stirring occasionally so they wont stick and burn. When they are just getting nice, add garlic and sugar and continue cooking for another 15 minutes or so. Meanwhile, make the broth, if using boullion cubes.

Remove the onions from the pot, add flour and mix it well with the remaining fat to form a roux. You may have to add another tablespoon of butter, if needed. When the roux is nice, deep brown (but not burned) deglaze with a splash of stock and stir well until the mixture is smooth with no lumps. Add all the remaining stock and the merlot, then add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 or 10 minutes, in order to develop deep, rich, colours.

Put the onions back into the pot and bring the soup to a low boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and let the soup cook uncovered for 30 minutes. At this point, the soup will keep all day, simmering, if you keep it covered.

Toast the sliced bread on both sides under the broiler for a few minutes on each side. Ladle the soup into earthenware or ovenproof bowls. Place a slice of bread on top of each bowl of soup and cover it generously and completely with the cheese mixture. Place bowls of soup under the broiler until the cgeese brown and bubbly, then serve immediately. Caution - the soup and the bowls will be hot.



This is a cold, grey day's meal in itself! Since my original post, I've added some notes and pictures. This thread is a continual work in progress on a very good version of a classic soup, so please do read all the posts, so that you can pick up as much information as possible. French onion soup is wonderful stuff, and a little extra care in preparation can make it even better.

Here's a shot of everything needed, as per the recipe above:

A note on onions: John's recipe calls for white onions, which work very well; however, many recipes call for yellow onions. I've tried them both ways and like them equally, in slightly-different ways. In the end, use what you have or can get - even a combination of white and yellow onions is fine. Read the posts below for some more discussion on this.

A note on wine: John's recipe uses merlot, and I very much enjoy it this way; having said that, some folks prefer white wine, such as Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. Read the posts below for some alternate ideas and suggestions on this.

As with nearly any recipe worth making, mise en plas is the key step, making all the difference in the world; if you're well-prepared, nearly any recipe in the world can be a simple matter, and this is a good example. To prepare for this soup, I peeled and crushed the garlic:

Then, I got my stock ready to simmer - having no homemade stock on hand, i relied on these very convenient concentrates:

The recipe calls for beef stock, which is very good; lately, I've been utilising a 50/50 combination of chicken and beef stock, which I believe brings out the best of both, adding a subtle ambience to the final product.

Next, I measured out the wine (see notes above and comments below):

Grated the cheese:

And measured my flour, salt, pepper and sugar:

I prefer to use about double the flour; this, for me, creates a richer soup that is ever-so-slightly thicker in a way that is hardly noticeable, but makes all the difference in the world, in my opinion. Regarding the sugar, many more conventional recipes do not include it, relying on the carmelisation of the onions to bring the right sweetness to the party. This is, in my opinion, a judgement call - I've tried it both ways and, like with the onions, find both ways good for different reasons.

Ready to proceed, I peeled the onions (see notes above and comments below):

And then sliced them:

Yes, there are quite a few onions there! No worries, they will cook down just fine. You might choose to quarter the onions and slice them, rather than slice them into rings, which are hard to gather up on a spoon. I don't know if this would hurt the authenticity or integrity of the soup, when I do it, it sure makes things more manageable. I read with some methods that the onions are sliced with the grain running vertically, rather than across the grain. I did try this once, but for no real reason in particular, I prefer to slice them across the grain. Also, in the name of experimentation, i sliced some close to 1/4-inch thick, and some closer to 1/2-inch. The 1/4-inch ones looked nicer and more elegant, but the 1/2-inch ones stood up to the long, slow cooking better, it seemed. the best thickness is probably somewhere in-between.

Prep work complete, I melted a combination of butter and olive oil in my enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, and then tossed all the onions in to begin their cooking and browning:

They sure take up a lot of room when you first put them in!

But no worries, as you stir them to coat them in the fat, then slowly cook them over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, they will cook down:

And down:

And down:

As you can see, the onions will indeed cook down quite a bit as they sauté slowly. The key is to stir often, in order to keep them moving around so they can carmelise without burning. Also, the cooking process will release quite a bit of liquid. You want to keep the cooking slow, so that the liquid can evaporate as much as possible before the onions actually start to darken. This process will take, oh - approximately as long as it is going to take. There is no real time frame that can be attached, in my estimation. Many factors come into play, inclusing the type of onions, the type of cookware used, the temperature and properties of the stove-top and other things. It can be as little as 45 minutes or as much as a couple of hours - maybe even more. The key, as stated before, is to do it slowly so that you get good carmelisation, rather than burning. You will definitely be rewarded for your hard work in the end, with wonderful aromas and deep, rich flavours.

This concludes the "new" pictures and comments that I have to date, because my camera's battery died. From here, I will continue with my older series of photos that were taken during my first preparation of John's delicious soup, with the original notes along with some that have been added as time has passed. Some of the material from this point may be redundant now, but, as the post progresses, the pictorial will be streamlined....

i didn't realize this at the time, but the onions probably should have cooked and carmelised for a longer time. as it turns out, i don't think the onions were quite carmelised enough in the picture above, but other than that it sure looked like we're on the right track. let this be a lesson: go ahead and cook/carmelise the onions longer than the mentioned 45 minutes, if necessary, at medium-low heat.

this also applies after adding the sugar and garlic. you want most of the liquid to go away and for the onions to take on the slightly-browned, cooked quality that really brings out their flavour. if there's still a lot of "onion juice" after removing the onions, it's good to reduce that as much as possible. even if it ends up being a little over an hour and a half, total, it will be very much worth it.

here's another tip: when adding the flour to the fat left in the pan after removing the onions, stir often at medium/low heat until a nice, rich roux is formed, then de-glaze with a little broth or wine. adding twice as much flour as recommended seems to help for a slightly thicker, richer soup if you prefer it that way, but reducing the liquids is critical.

when adding the rest of the wine and stock, allow it to simmer a few minutes before adding the onions back in, so that the wine, stock, flour etc. cook a little and take on a beautiful colour, otherwise, if you add the onions back in too early, and they will turn red, like they did here:

if using broth, you might want to omit the ADDITIONAL salt, since the broth is probably salty enough. if you are fortunate enough to have true stock, adding a little salt should be fine.

after adding the onions back in the pan, simmer at least for another half-hour - longer, if necessary, until the soup is rich and dark. meanwhile, shred the swiss cheese so that it can be blended with the parmesan and top the crouton. slice the bread and toast it on both sides under the broiler.

it wasn't long until the soup was finished:

it was looking and smelling wonderful, but there was one more thing to do. i ladeled some soup into two bowls, floated a toasted slice of crusty bread, and sprinkled some cheese on top. then under the broiler in the oven it went for a few minutes. i could have toasted the cheese a little longer, but it was just fine like this:

ready to serve and enjoy!

this was a great soup and truly restaurant quality. it is always an accomplishment to take the most simple and basic ingredients and turn them into something that is more than the sum of their parts. this recipe certainly does that, and i highly recommend it.

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Posted By: Boilermaker
Date Posted: 02 May 2011 at 15:12
Looks wonderful.  I love French onion soup.

Posted By: Hoser
Date Posted: 02 May 2011 at 16:14
That is one of my favorites as well...I haven't made it in a long time.

Go with your food!

Posted By: butchloc
Date Posted: 03 May 2011 at 09:55
well i sure gonna - this weekend - making a turducin for mothers day - french onion soup should go A-1 with it

Posted By: Muleskinner
Date Posted: 15 January 2012 at 17:51
I love french onion soup.  This one is getting bookmarked.

Posted By: Daikon
Date Posted: 16 January 2012 at 00:13
As with almost any French bistro food, I'm a big Thomas Keller fan, and that certainly goes for his onion soup recipe. The onions are definitely the star of his soup, and they need to be caramelized very slowly in order to fully develop their flavor.

Here are some notes and the recipe from Bouchon, as seen through one food blogger, with a bonus recipe for homemade beef stock. More notes and photos can be found by following the source link. I will mention that just the 8 pounds of onions are cooked for 5 hours. Yeah, Keller is more than a bit obsessive, but oh is it good!

Quote Onion Soup - Soupe A L’Oignon
Thomas Keller - Bouchon, with very minor changes by

Makes 6 servings


2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
6 large sprigs of thyme


8 pounds (about 8 large) yellow onions
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons all purpose flour
3 1/2 quarts Beef Stock (recipe below)
Freshly ground black pepper
Sherry wine vinegar or white wine/champagne vinegar


1 baguette (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt

To Finish:

6 to 12 slices (1/8 inch thick) aged Comte or Emmentaler cheese (at least 4 inches square)
1 1/2 cups grated aged Comte or Emmentaler cheeses, or a combination

The more basic the soup, the more critical the details: Slice the onions uniformly and brown them very slowly and evenly; slice the bread a half inch thick and dry it completely in the oven; and serve the soup in appropriately sized bowls so that the melted cheese extends over the rim. When you hit it right, there’s nothing more satisfying to cook or to eat than this soup.

It’s worth reiterating the importance of cooking the onions slowly so that the natural sugars caramelize rather than brown through high heating sautéing. The onions cook for about five hours and need to be stirred often, but they can be made up to two days ahead. The soup is best if refrigerated for a day or two so that the flavors of the onion and beef broth can deepen.

Comte is traditionally the cheese of choice, but Emmentaler works as well. Gruyère is a bit strong. Use an aged cheese; a younger cheese would just melt and wouldn’t form a crust.

FOR THE SACHET: Cut a piece of cheesecloth about 7 inches square. Place the bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme in the center, bring up the edges, and tie with kitchen twine to form a sachet.

FOR THE SOUP: Cut off the tops and bottoms of the onions, then cut the onions lengthwise in half. Remove the peels and tough outer layers. Cut a V wedge in each one to remove the core and pull out any solid, flat pieces of onion running up from the core.

Lay an onion half cut side down on a cutting board with the root end toward you. Note that there are lines on the outside of the onion. Cutting on the lines (with the grain) rather than against them will help the onions soften. Holding the knife on an angle, almost parallel to the board, cut the onion lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Once you’ve cut past the center of the onion, the knife angle will become awkward: Flip the onion onto its side, toward the knife, and finish slicing it, again along the grain. Separate the slices of onion, trimming away any root sections that are still attached and holding the slices together. Repeat with the remaining onions. (You should have about 7 quarts of onions)

Melt the butter and oil in a large heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and 1 tablespoon salt, reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring every 15 minutes and regulating the heat to keep the mixture bubbling gently, for about 1 hour, or until the onions have wilted and released a lot of liquid. At this point, you can turn up the heat slightly to reduce the liquid, but it is important to continue to cook the onions slowly to develop maximum flavor and keep them from scorching. Continue to stir the onions every 15 minutes, being sure to scrape the bottom and get in the corners of the pot, for about 4 hours more, or until the onions are caramelized throughout and a rich deep brown. (Sara’s note - like a super deep brown, like way browner than you think they need to be. Think poop. Yes I said it.) Keep a closer eye on the onions toward the end of the cooking when the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat. (You will need 1 1/2 cups of onions for the soup; reserve any extra for another use. The onions can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.)

Transfer the caramelized onions to a 5 quart pot (if they’ve been refrigerated, reheat until hot.) Sift in the flour and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef stock and sachet, bring to a simmer, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the liquid is reduced to 2 1/2 quarts. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and a few drops of vinegar. Remove from the heat.

FOR THE CROUTONS: Preheat the broiler. Cut twelve 3/8 inch thick slices from the baguette (reserve the remainder for another use) and place on a baking sheet. Brush the bread lightly on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Place under the broiler and toast the first side until golden brown, then turn and brown the second side. Set aside and leave the broiler on.

TO COMPLETE: Return the soup to a simmer. Place six flameproof soup tureens, with about 1 1/2 cups capacity on a baking sheet to catch any spills (the soup will bubble up and over the tureens). Add the hot soup to the tureens, filling them within 1/2 inch of the tops. Top each serving with 2 croutons: Lay them on the surface - do not push them into the soup. Lay the slices of cheese over the croutons so that the cheese overlaps the edges of the tureens by about 1/2 inch, Scatter the grated cheese over the sliced cheese, filling in any areas where the sliced cheese is thiner, or it may melt into the soup rather than forming a crust.

Place the tureens under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese bubbles, browns, and forms a thick crust. Eat carefully, the soup and tureens will be very hot.

Okay now if you are feeling like a real challenge, you can make Keller’s homemade beef stock as well. I had never made homemade beef stock before this, and I found it to be very easy and worth the effort for this soup.

Beef Stock
Thomas Keller - Bouchon

Makes 3 1/2 quarts

We use this stock for onion soup and to add in combination with veal stock to beef stews. The bones are roasted first to give the stock a roasted flavor, then simmered with caramelized vegetables for a rich brown stock.

About 2 tablespoons canola oil
5 pounds meaty beef necks or leg bones
2 small Spanish onions (about 8 ounces total), peeled
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 ounces (1 large) carrot, peeled and cut into 4 pieces
3 ounces (1 large) leek, roots trimmed, split lengthwise, rinsed well, and cut into 2 inch pieces, or leek tops
1 large sprig of thyme
1 large sprig of Italian parsley
3 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 head garlic, cut horizontally in half

Preheat the oven to 475F. Place a large roasting pan in the oven to preheat for about 10 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the hot roasting pan and distribute the beef bones in a single layer. Roast the bones for about 45 minutes, or until richly browned, turning each piece only after it is well browned on the bottom side.

Meanwhile, cut 1 onion crosswise in half. Heat a small heavy skillet over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Place 1 onion half cut side down to one side of the skillet so that it is not over direct heat and let it brown and char black, about 30 minutes. This will add color to the stock, set aside.

Remove the roasting pan of bones from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 400F. Transfer bones to a large colander set over a baking sheet to drain.

Drain the fat from the roasting pan and discard. Add about 1 cup water to the pan, place over medium heat, and use a metal spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan and release the pan juices. Let them simmer until reduced by half. Add the resulting fond to a large deep stockpot.

Transfer the bones to the stockpot and add about 5 quarts cold water - just enough to cover the bones. Any fat present in the juices will rose to the top when the cold water is added; use a skimmer to remove and discard the fat. Add the charred onion half and the salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, skimming as impurities rise to the top of the stockpot. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, skimming often, for 5 hours. If the level of liquid falls below the bones, add additional water.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining whole onion into quarters and cut the remaining onion half in half again. Place the onions, carrots, and leeks in a roasting pan that will hold them in a single layer, toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil, and place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and stir, then roast for an additional 20 minutes or until the vegetables are richly caramelized. Set aside.

After the stock has simmered for 5 hours, add the caramelized vegetables, herbs, peppercorns, and garlic and simmer for 1 hour longer. Turn off the heat and allow the stock to rest for 10 minutes.

Prepare an ice bath. Place a strainer over a large bowl. Removing the bones or pouring out the liquid through the bones would cloud the stock. Instead, carefully ladle the stock out of the pot and pass it through the strainer, tilting the pot as necessary to get all the stock. Strain a second time through a chinois or fine mesh strainer lines with a dampened cheese cloth.

Measure the stock. If you have more than 3 1/2 quarts, pour it into a saucepan and reduce to 3 1/2 quarts. Strain the stock into a container and cool in the ice bath, stirring occasionally. (Store the stock in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze in several containers for longer storage.)

NOTE: If the stock will be refrigerated for longer than 3 days, bring it back to a boil after 3 days, cool it, and return it to the refrigerator.


Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 27 February 2012 at 12:45
French Onion Soup ... this is very soothing and healing after a long laboral day ...

I use: Swiss Gruyère, Raclette and Emmenthal ...

Put a baguette type bread toast with the melted cheese in the broth !!! and if you have a piece a Parmesano RIND !!! This is the secret to a fine broth in the rurals ! The Shepherds swear by it !

Great post,
Thanks ...

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 05 May 2012 at 10:09
i'll be making this today or tomorrow, both because it's a perfect weekend for it (cold, grey, breezy and dreary) and also because the beautiful mrs. tas requested it AGAIN! I'll try to get some new/better pictures in order to update the post.
margi, i'd love to try this with racelette cheese, but in the middle-of-nowhere, montana, this is tough to do! i'll be using a mixture that is half swiss, with the other half a blend of parmesan, romano, asiago and fontina.

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Posted By: Melissa Mead
Date Posted: 05 May 2012 at 12:10
Do you have a Fresh Market anywhere nearby? They have racelette.

Melissa -

Posted By: africanmeat
Date Posted: 05 May 2012 at 14:31
This soup got a spacial place in my Hart ,it was the first meal that my wife cooked for me as we got married.


Posted By: Daikon
Date Posted: 05 May 2012 at 14:35
Wow, a bride who cooks for you in the middle of your vows -- that's some woman you've got there! LOL

Posted By: ChrisFlanders
Date Posted: 06 May 2012 at 05:45

There are a few strange ingredients in the recipe you use, Ron. I notice you use Merlot wine, which is a red wine. I believe white wine is more usual and there's a good reason for it. Onion, more specific caramelized onions are quite sweet. The white wine will add a little acidity to the soup and balance it, where red wine adds even more sweetness. This brings me to the sugar in the recipe which is also a little strange since it obviously adds more sweetness.

The trick for a good onion soup is to cook the onions until they just start to caramelize.

And don't worry about the cheese, gruyère is perfect for this since it also adds a little acidity. Many french will use the french gruyère which is cheaper than the Swiss gruyère.

Posted By: Daikon
Date Posted: 06 May 2012 at 05:59
The trick for a good onion soup is to cook the onions until they just start to caramelize.

I completely disagree.  Good onion soup is made by very slowly caramelizing the onions until they are a deep brown.

I'll agree with you on the wine and sugar, though.  My preferred recipe doesn't use any wine or sugar, but does use vinegar -- either white wine or champagne vinegar.

Posted By: ChrisFlanders
Date Posted: 06 May 2012 at 06:25
You pointed out the right thing to do, Daikon, which is as you said "very slowly caramelizing until they are a deep brown". Many times onions and garlic get blackenend too soon on too high fire, which makes people assume they are doing the right thing, but that blackening will taste often very bitter. Personally I go maximum to a stage of a light golden brown on very low fire.

Posted By: Daikon
Date Posted: 06 May 2012 at 06:55
If you want to go faster, the - pressure cooker and baking soda technique from Modernist Cuisine just might work as well with onions as it does with carrots.

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 07 May 2012 at 09:57
hey, everyone - great replies here since my last post. i'll try to address them all here, and then i'll give an update.

melissa - nope, i'm afraid there's no fresh market even close to here. i am pretty sure the closest raclette cheese is possibly (but not necessarily) in great falls, which is 130 miles away. it's possible that that it would be necessary to go even farther than that! the 50% swiss/50% italian blend seemed to work really well, but one of these days i really am going to have to "splurge" and order some raclette and/or other "more authentic" cheese for this soup.

ahron - i know how you feel about such recipes. i have a sentimental favourite that my wife made for our first evening at home together, wich we simply call Hamburger Pie;

daikon - referencing your earlier comment about thomas keller and his 5 hours of slow-cooking the onions, i can easily see it happening, now that i'm trying to be more aware of the process in order to maximise the flavour potential. champagne vinegar? i'll have to see if i can find some of that ~ i gave keller's method a good read-over and i'm liking a lot of those ideas; will see about incorporating them as i can into my method.

chris - some interesting ideas in your post that i would like to try; chief among them of course is the white wine. i've only made it with merlot up until now, but i will qualify that statement by saying that it has always been a very inexpensive merlot that didn't seem to add any over-abundance of sweetness. my results have always been really good (and better each successive time i make it, as i develop and refine my preparation), and my perception has always been (based on aroma, taste etc) that the red merlot complimented and added depth to the beef and onion flavours of the soup. then again, i have no other preparation to compare it with, so i could easily be missing out on something even better than this preparation, which i truly enjoy. for the sugar, i have always used "raw" (turbinado") sugar, which seems less-sweet to me that white sugar.

i agree with you and daikon about the SLOW cooking of the onions for the best results - the slow cooking is always my goal, and never to over-cook or (horrors!) scorch or burn them, but to bring them right up to the point where they have that wonderful deeply-carmelised look, aroma and flavour.

i would really like to try the same basic recipe, using white wine as you suggest. do you have a recommendation for a white wine that would be good for it? the most common ones i have available are chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, moscato, riesling or gewürztraminer. also, i am guessing that in order to follow the spirit of your suggestion, i should omit the sugar as well?

i will definitely give your suggestions a try, probably within a month if i can.

as for this latest preparation, it got off to a wonderful, beautiful start. i had all the ingredients according to the recipe, prep work went well, and i really was hoping that this would be the best preparation of all. i took some really good (i hope) pictures of the beginning of the process, and everything seemed truly on track. unfortunately, the slow carmelising and cooking of the onions in my enameled dutch oven (on medium heat) took much, much longer than expected.

due to the fact that the beautiful mrs. tas has a work schedule requiring her to get up very early in the morning (she is a registered long-term care nurse), and she was scheduled to work this weekend - my late start on the soup ran up against her bedtime, and it was necessary to rush the finishing of the soup before the onions could really develop. the resulting soup was still really good-tasting, but the colours were way off (kind of a whitish pink or pinkish white) and the flavours were quite unfinished. lesson learned: i will start at least an hour (maybe two) earlier next time.

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Posted By: ChrisFlanders
Date Posted: 07 May 2012 at 11:05

A little extra information was much nearer over here than I thought, Ron. Last year I bought the extra edition of the french magazine "Cuisine Actuelle" that is made around "105 recettes et astuces de grand-mère", translated as "105 recipes and clever tricks from grand-mother". There's a recipe for french onion soup and I have to say granny's methods surprised me, look what they use as a liquid! I translate it, you never know if people wanted to try that recipe out, I certainly will;

Source; "Cuisine Actuelle - Hors série - sept./oct. 2011 - 105 recettes et astuces de grand-mère"

Ingredients for 4 persons; 400 grams white onions, 1 clove of garlic, 120 grams of grated Emmental, 40 grams butter, 1 tbsp flour, 100 ml dry white wine, 1 bouquet garni, 12 slices of grilled baguette, salt and freshly ground black pepper

- peel and chop the onions. Peel and very finely chop the garlic.

- melt the butter in a large pot and sweat the onions and the garlic on medium fire until a light coloration. Stir carefully. Rain the flour in, then fold gently for around 1 minute. Add the white wine and loosen the mass with a wooden spoon.

- add 1,5 liter lukewarm water(!). Add the bouquet garni, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the fire and let simmer during 35 minutes.

- heat your oven-grill. Pour the soup in individual bowls. Put 3 slices of grilled bread on and cover with the Emmental.

- Put the bowls in an ovendish and fill with 2 cm of water. Let the cheese gratinate under the ovengrill until it colors nicely. Serve immediately.

- An additional remark is added; you can change the water by the same amount of chicken stock if you want a more pronounced flavour.

As for the wine, it's clear that the suggestion is to use a dry white wine, so a sauvignon blanc, chenin, chardonnay is ok. Don't use Alsacer Gewurtztraminer, it tastes very strongly, mainly of lychee, it is a perfect wine to serve with Asian food, I wouldn't use it in an onion soup. The wine added is merely a good dash (around 1/3th of a cup). Other Alsace whites are ok except "vendanges tardives" of course.

I have made onion soups in the past using beef stockf, but as you can see, water is used instead; the onions are indeed 1st violin! I always used thyme in my onion soup, but here they suggest a bouquet garni.

I'm a little surprised noone on the forum suggests cheddar cheese wich is abundantly available in outstanding quality on the US market, I believe. Cheddar has a very nice acidity and I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be the best choice of cheese for this dish!!

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 07 May 2012 at 11:20
well, i am definitely inspired now, after reading your post with  the suggestions and the recipe. i must admit that the idea of water is shocking, but as you said, to feature the onions, it does make sense.
your wine suggestions make good sense - i was pretty sure i would be steering away from the sweet white wines, and figured that chardonnay or sauvignon blanc would work best. the cheddar cheese idea is something that i never would have thought of on my own, but as you say ~ its qualities might really turn out to be something - say a slice of sharp cheddar with a slice of swiss....
i'm going to see about incorporating your suggestions (wine, cheddar cheese etc) into the recipe from the original post, along with ideas from keller and perhaps this recipe quoted above. i'm thinking that taking some of the best ideas from all might result in something extraordinary!
officially inspired, and planning on this for the near future ~ of course, another cool, dreary grey day would be perfect....

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Posted By: Daikon
Date Posted: 07 May 2012 at 15:10
Originally posted by TasunkaWitko TasunkaWitko wrote:

due to the fact that the beautiful mrs. tas has a work schedule requiring her to get up very early in the morning (she is a registered long-term care nurse), and she was scheduled to work this weekend - my late start on the soup ran up against her bedtime, and it was necessary to rush the finishing of the soup before the onions could really develop. the resulting soup was still really good-tasting, but the colours were way off (kind of a whitish pink or pinkish white) and the flavours were quite unfinished. lesson learned: i will start at least an hour (maybe two) earlier next time!

Do you own a pressure cooker?  I'm actually pretty confident that the method I mentioned above from Modernist Cuisine would work to dramatically reduce the length of time it takes to fully caramelize the onions.  It would take a little experimenting to figure out exactly how much time is required to produce the best results, but the caramelized carrot soup recipe should provide a good initial estimate -- i.e., about 20 minutes to caramelize a pound of onions in the pressure cooker at 15 psig.

After some looking, I also found - this information on caramelizing onions in a pressure cooker:


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 23 July 2012 at 11:06
daikon - i do own a pressure cooker, although i've only used it once and not quite for its intended purpose ( - to can some deer chunks ) since it is a pressure cooker and not a canner. one thing i learned is that one wants to use distilled or other "pure" water, not chinook, montana water, in order to eliminate a build-up of a white mineral powder that deposits on the cookware.

at first, a pressure cooker seems intimidating, but in all honesty, it really isn't as hard to use as i feared it would be. i'm commited to trying this recipe again with some of the modifications mentioned above, and that would be a good time to give modernist cuisine's method a go, as well.

But, for now: at the request of the beautiful mrs. tas, i made this again for supper yesterday, using some suggestions from the posts above:

i used white wine (chardonnay), rather than the merlot that we had used in the past.

i used yellow onions, rather than white.

i omitted the sugar.

i had no swiss cheese, so i blended sharp cheddar with the usual italian blend that i buy (parmesan, romano, mozzarella, provolone and asiago).

normally, i cut the croutons very thick; this time, i cut them thinner, no more than half an inch.

results were very good, and i was impressed. the yellow onions provided a lot of sweetness, making the addition of sugar unnecessary. i started the project earlier than usual, so i was able to give them a long, slow cooking (about 2.5 hours); not as thorough as - keller's , but definitely better than i've been able to do in the past. the enameled cast iron dutch oven really paid for itself yesterday - using modest, well-monitored temperatures, the onions, which at first completely filled the pot, reduced down dramatically and took on a very nice, toasted, golden brown colour, with an incredible "roasted" aroma that comes from good carmelisation. i am sure that if i would have had another hour, they really would have been just about perfect - but these were very good.

the white wine was also a very good switch, bringing a unique depth that i hadn't noticed before and a rich flavour that i was very glad to have experienced. i had wanted to use sauvignon blanc, but in my little one-horse town, they only had one bottle, and it was an expensive label, so i went with a more frugal chardonnay. i considered riesling, but figured i was already making enough changes for one day, and wasn't sure how it would work - too many tweaks make it hard to evaluate. in all, i can't decide if i prefer the white wine over the red - i really enjoy them both equally, from different perspectives. i had no stock available, so i used a half-beef, half-chicken broth and did not add any additional salt. this worked well, giving the best of both flavours, i think.

in the past, i had been rather haphazard about the croutons and cheese, but this time, i tried a few changes. following keller's lead, i cut them thinner than usual, allowed them to get "stale" for a few hours, and toasted them under the broiler just to the point of reaching a rich, dark gold. i also made sure that the croutons covered the soup, placing them so that they would catch the cheese and not let any down into the soup. as for the cheese, i used less of it than i have used in the past, trying to mimic keller's effect of a thin slice crusting the soup, rather than ending up with the big, gooey mess i had in the past, which i personally enjoyed, but it certainly wasn't refined. the cheddar, toasted with the other cheeses on the croutons, was very very nice as well, adding beautiful colour and just a bit of bite to the whole, for some nice balance.

my only concern is that the soup seemed quite a bit lighter than usual. this is probably due to the white wine, and also possibly in some part to the half-chicken/half-beef broth, but flavour certainly didn't suffer.

all-in-all, these changes all worked very well, and i was impressed enough to keep them for use in the future. i may use red or white wine, depending on whim or what i have at the moment, but the other, more fundamental changes speak to technique, and i do believe that my technique improved after yesterday. my thanks to daikon and chris (and also to keller, in absentia) for their input, which has allowed me to grow. 

future goals for my french onion soup method include moving a little more toward keller's method, including homemade beef stock, large, thin slices of cheese rather than shredded, and attempting a longer, slower onion cook. once i have these down, i'd like to try the pressure cooker method for comparison.

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Posted By: AK1
Date Posted: 15 August 2012 at 18:20
Happy 100th birthday Julia.

Here's her Onion Soup recipe:

Originally posted by Julia Julia wrote:

French Onion Soup

5 -6 cups yellow onions, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 to 2 lbs)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
6 cups beef stock (preferably homemade)
1 cup wine (dry red or white)
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
salt and pepper
12 ounces swiss cheese, grated
4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 raw yellow onion
2 to 3 tablespoons cognac
8 slices French bread (about 1 inch thick)
4 tablespoons olive oil, for drizzling


1 Place heavy bottom stock pot or dutch over over medium-low heat.

2 Add 1 Tbs cooking oil, 2Tbs butter to pot.

3 Add sliced onions and stir until they are evenly coated with the oil.

4 Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until they are very tender and translucent.

5 To brown or caramelize the onions turn heat under pot to medium or medium high heat.

6 Add 1/2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt and continue to cook uncovered, stirring frequently until the onions have browned and reduced significantly.

7 Once caramelized, reduce heat to medium-low and add 3 Tbs flour to the onions.

8 Brown the flour for about 2-3 minutes trying not to scorch it. (If the flour does not form a thick paste, you can add a bit more butter here).

9 Stir in about 1 cup of warm stock, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up all of the cooked-on bits.

10 Add the rest of the stock, wine, sage, and bay leaf to the soup.

11 Simmer for 30 minutes.

12 To make the "croutes" (toasted bread), heat oven to 325 degrees F.

13 Drizzle each side of the bread slices with a bit of olive oil and place on baking sheet.

14 Cook the croutes for 15 minutes in oven on each side (30 minutes total).

15 Check the soup for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

16 Remove the bay leaf (if you can find it).

17 Transfer to a casserole dish.

18 At this point you can add the 2-3 Tbs cognac and grate the 1/2 raw onion into the soup.

19 Add a few ounces of the swiss cheese directly into the soup and stir.

20 Place the toasted bread in a single layer on top of the soup.

21 Sprinkle the rest of the cheese in a thick layer on top of the bread making sure to cover the edges of the toast to prevent burning.

22 Drizzle with a little oil or melted butter.

23 Place in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

24 Turn on broiler and brown cheese well.

25 Let cool for a few minutes.

26 Bon Apetit!

Read more at:

This recipe in my not so humble opinion is the ultimate Onion Soup recipe. Anything else, heck just buy a can of Campbell's Onion Soup!

This is simply the standard of French Onion Soup bar none.


Posted By: Daikon
Date Posted: 15 August 2012 at 19:51 - Watch her make it!


Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 05 January 2014 at 21:58
Well, my learning and growing with this soup continued today, as The Beautiful Mrs. Tas requested this for supper tonight. I decided to try a couple-three little tweaks in my effort to improve, and I think I did pretty well.

For one thing, I was able to start early and cook down the onions longer than ever before, using my enameled cast iron Dutch oven and a little butter and olive oil combined. carefully managing the heat on the stovetop, I was able to cook them down for my self-imposed goal of a minimum of three hours, slowly transforming them to a nice, rich, toasty golden-brown; it was a long, arduous process, and my onions nearly disappeared, but it was worth it to get such beautiful caramelisation.

I then added the flour and allowed it to work with the residual butter and oil to form a nice, rich roux for another 30 minutes or so before adding the minced garlic and some black pepper (I added no sugar to the soup at all, and figured that the stock itself would contain enough salt). I then de-glased with white wine and added the stock.

For the wine, I used pinot grigio; I have no idea if this is a "good" wine to use with French onion soup or not, but it seemed to me as if it added a bit of acidity and maybe a little bitterness as well, which seemed to balance well with the sweetness from the caramelised onions and the salt in the stock. Where the stock is concerned, I had previously been using a 50/50 blend of chicken and beef, but the result wasn't quite right and the colour seemed a little to light, so I went with 2 parts beef to 1 part chicken, and found this to be a great improvement in terms of flavour and colour.

After adding the stock, I took a page from Julia Child, adding grated raw onion and bay leaf to the soup. I let the soup simmer for half an hour while I drizzled the 1/2-inch-thick slices of French bread with a little olive oil and toasted them under the broiler for a minute or two on each side. Each slice took up the space of half the diametre of the bowls I was using, so I planned for two croutons per bowl (side-by-side) in order to cover the surface of the soup.

When the soup was ready for serving, I ladled some into an earthenware bowl, added my toasted croutons and placed a thin slice of Swiss cheese on top. I then sprinkled a small amount of a shredded cheese blend (consisting of half sharp Cheddar and half "six-cheese Italian blend") - just enough to barely cover the Swiss. After a few short minutes under the broiler, the cheeses bubbled and toasted to near-perfection, and I served the soup.

Results were very good, and I believe that the new things I tried succeeded quite well. I'll be integrating these concepts into future preparations and would welcome input and suggestions, particularly regarding the wine. I wasn't sure if it would be a good choice, especially as tasted a little too "floral" for my tastes on its own; but it was the only white wine that I had, so I tried it and was satisfied that it worked reasonably well.

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Posted By: eranils31
Date Posted: 25 November 2015 at 16:14
Hello TasunkaWitko,
Your recipe is great  and all the comments I've read are right in the sense  the onions have to be simmered very , very  slowly in order they get "jamlike" ans equally brown ans soft.
Concerning the wine , in Paris  region (where this soup comes from at the beginning), they use a dry white wine (like Muscadet or Gros Plant) to balance the sweetness  of the onions. Traditionnaly, they just pour basic wines for cooking.
Personnaly , to add  flavours , my family traditionnaly add two or three pork bones (no meat on) at the very beginning while the onions are simmering to add extra taste .The caramelized bones really make a diiference . Try it and tell me about it.
There is no real right recipe in fact. This is the intersting point....

please suscribe at and learn the famous chefs techniques

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 11 January 2016 at 18:55
Hi, eranils - please forgive my tardy response - I have been far too busy with work, family and other adventures.

Thank you for the information regarding the wine, which makes perfect sense. I also like your idea with the pork bones, and will be sure to try it the next time I make it. 

Thank you again for sharing your experiences; this soup is possibly my favourite of them all, and I am always eager to learn of ways to make it better.

Best of the new year to you -


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Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 09 October 2018 at 16:25
Adding to the collective knowlege on the subject, here is a recipe for French Onion Soup from Time/Life’s Foods of the World - The Cooking of Provincial France (1968):

Quote Soupe a l'Oignon
French Onion Soup

To serve 6 to 8:

For the soup:

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds onions, thinly sliced (about 7 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
2 quarts beef stock, fresh or canned, or beef and chicken stock combined

For the Croutes:

12 to 16 one-inch-thick slices of French bread
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, cut
1 cup grated, imported Swiss cheese or Swiss and freshly grated Parmesan cheese combined

In a heavy 4- to 5-quart saucepan or a soup kettle, melt the butter with the oil over moderate heat. Stir in the onions and 1 teaspoon salt, and cook uncovered over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the onions are a rich golden brown. Sprinkle flour over the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

In a separate saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer, then stir the hot stock into the onions. Return the soup to low heat and simmer, partially covered, for another 30 or 40 minutes, occasionally skimming off the fat. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed.

While the soup simmers, make the croutes. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the slices of bread in one layer on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. With a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of each slice with olive oil. Then turn the slices over and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the bread is completely dry and lightly browned. Rub each slice with the cut garlic clove and set aside.

To serve,place the croutes in a large tureen or individual soup bowls and ladle the soup over them. Pass the grated cheese separately.

ALTERNATIVE: To make onion soup gratinée, preheat the oven to 375°F. Ladle the soup into an ovenproof tureen or individual soup bowls, top with croutes, and spread the grated cheese on top. Sprinkle the cheese with a little melted butter or olive oil. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted, then slide the soup under a hot broiler for a minute or two to brown the top if desired.

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Posted By: gracoman
Date Posted: 10 October 2018 at 08:47
Chef Bruno Albouze offers 4 options with his recipe for French Onion Soup and a different take on Demi Glace. - Interesting and informative.

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 10 October 2018 at 09:05
I took a quick look, and that was pretty impressive! Truly some amazing colour in there, with the soup itself.

There are at least a couple of ideas in there that I would like to incorporate the next time I make this soup.

Thanks for sharing!

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Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 11 October 2018 at 15:43

I have made it on rare occasion, and I do agree with Chris on the White Wine and on the  French  Gruyere ..   And the preparation techniques he suggests ..  

I shall look tomorrow for my mom´s recipe  however, being my mom was  French, I believe it was very close to Chris´s recipe ..  

It is a lovely autumn or winter warm up ..

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 11 October 2018 at 15:53
I hope you are able to find it - sounds good!

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Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 12 October 2018 at 09:23

Here is one of the récipes from my French Mom ..

30 grams of French 82% butter 
1 kilo of onions sliced finely into arcs
1 / 2 tablesp.  Golden sugar 
4 tableps.  of flour all purpose 
125 ml.  Cognac 
Evoo ( French or Italian ) 
2 tiny cloves of garlic 
1 French style  baguette 
100 grams of  French Guyère 
A few shot glasses of dry White French or similar wine (White Burgundy, Riesling or Rueda Verdejo )

Heat the butter and the Evoo in a large Dutch Oven type pot ..

Using a spatula ( wooden ) turn in one direction frequently  until the  onions are a light pale Golden color but do not over do it .. 

Add slowly the cognac, the White wine and some wáter or a beef consomme ..  

Now let it low simmer ..  and cover partially .. Approx 20 to 30 minutes .. Season to taste with S & P.

Toast your bread canapés with Evoo and garlic (rub the garlic into the slices of bread ) and drizzle a Little Evoo on them ..  Put under oven  broiler or grill until slightly Golden ..

Now add the cheese and melt it on the bread ..

This shall go into the finished onion soup .. 

I have 1 more récipe which is quite a bit more classic from maternal grandmom but more complicated.  Shall type it tomorrow ..

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

Posted By: TasunkaWitko
Date Posted: 12 October 2018 at 11:29
That certainly looks good ~

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Posted By: Margi Cintrano
Date Posted: 12 October 2018 at 16:35

It is a quick versión however, the consommé  is  from beef stock and the rest are basically natural ingredients and eco or bio flour .. I use an italian flour from Italy which I get from an Italian friend here.

I also use a group of mixed onions:  Cebolletas, which are on a long thick Green stem similar to a leek, and have dangling " White onions " ( 2 or 3 ! ) .. And the bio yellow golden exterior  variety ..  

I shall post the other more traditional one over the weekend ..

I really like Chris´s ..  

Something easy to prepare too ..  

Have a lovely wkend .. 

Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.

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