French Onion Soup (Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée)


It’s way too easy to get caught up in a project and forget why you ever started it in the first place.

Take blogging.

You start a blog about cooking because you really like to cook.  Then you become some weirdo who risks eating lukewarm pasta because you just really, really want to shoot a good pic for your website.  You start being a little crazy about numbers, checking your site’s analytics 5 times a day to see how many hits you’ve gotten.  You set up an adsense account, make 2 bucks, and think you’re going to take over the world.  You make a really delicious onion soup and you almost don’t share it with your readers because you haven’t reinvented the wheel.

Like I said, it’s easy to get lost.  Also, it’s easy to get crazy.

I don’t want to be nuts though.  I just want something good for dinner and I want to share it with you. Sometimes I make stuff up.  Sometimes I’m revolutionary (uh…), other times classics are where it’s at.

Tonight, it’s all about a classic: French Onion Soup.  You know it, you love it.  How couldn’t you?  It’s covered in melty Gruyere.  Caramelized onions.  Cognac!  Soul-warming broth.  It’s a bowl of hugs, afghans, mommies, fuzzy slippers, good memories.  Nothing new, but nothing you’ll ever tire of.

Main ingredient…you guessed it.  Onions.  Lots and lots of onion.  You will cry.

French Onion Soup (Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée)Wipe your eyes and toss the onions in the soup pot with slightly more butter than you’re comfortable with.  Let them caramelize.  Slowly.  No rushing.  We wouldn’t want to disgrace a classic, would we?

French Onion Soup (Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée)French Onion Soup (Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée)








Stir in cognac, thyme, and black pepper.  Add beef stock and simmer until flavors unite.

French Onion Soup (Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée)Transfer the onion soup to a couple of ovenproof bowls, top with slices of toasted baguette, and copious amounts of grated Gruyere.  Pop them under the broiler for a minute or 2 until you’re looking at a bubbling, melty bowl of goodness.

French Onion Soup (Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée)

French Onion Soup.  Classics become classic for a reason, cooks turn into bloggers for a reason: good food, new or old, is best shared.

French Onion Soup (Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée)



5.0 from 4 reviews
French Onion Soup (Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The onion soup can be made a day or 2 ahead of time, reheated and gratinéed before serving.
Recipe type: Soup, Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: French
Serves: 4
  • 4 lg. Yellow Onions, thinly sliced (about 8 c.)
  • 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) Butter
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ¼ c. Cognac or Brandy
  • 3 sprigs Thyme
  • Black Pepper
  • 6 c. Warm Beef Stock, preferably homemade- see notes
  • 1 c. Aged Gruyere, grated
  • 12 slices Baguette, toasted
  1. Heat butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and salt. Slowly caramelize, stirring occasionally, until dark and sweet, 1-1½ hours.
  2. Add Cognac and scrape up any onion bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add thyme, a generous amount of black pepper, and warm beef stock. Bring to almost boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the flavors have melded. Remove thyme stem and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
  3. Ladle soup into 4 ovenproof bowls set on a baking sheet. Top each bowl with 3 slices of toasted baguette and ¼ c. of cheese. Place under broiler for 2-4 minutes, watching carefully, until cheese is melted and the bread is golden around the edges.
Homemade stock is easy to make, requires very little hands-on time, and will greatly improve the flavor of this soup. To make beef stock, roast 3# beef soup bones with roughly chopped onions(2), celery stalks(2), carrots(2) in a very hot oven for 30 minutes. Place roasted bones and vegetables in a stock pot and cover with about a gallon of water. Add 1 tsp. salt, 10 black peppercorns, 2 cloves garlic, 5 whole cloves, handful of parsley, 3 bay leaves. Bring to an almost boil then reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours. Strain and it is ready to be used or frozen for future use.


  1. says

    What a gorgeous soup! The artful arrangement of the croutons and gorgeous photos – I’m dying to make this. It’s going to be a zillion degrees in Australia today so maybe I’ll let my husband talk me into a cold salad instead but I’m definitely making this!

  2. laura(from temperance mi) says

    I made the stock and soup today. Delicious-Lots of pots with all the straining but I have extra for later. Mine did not turn out as brown as your pictures- maybe I did not caramelize the onions right- I have your number now so I might text you when I have a question- Sarah’s cooking hotline! My next recipe is the granola- I want to make it this week to take to Anne and her roommates. Thanks

  3. Gordon says

    Finding your blog and this recipe inspired me to make a pot of my favorite soup. Its was so good I’m finishing my second effort and a double batch at that! Making beef stock was fun, my croutons are whole wheat and for cheese I use Jarlsberg and sharp Provolone. So yummy. It’s better than the soup served at the restaurant I manage. Thanks for a great blog.

  4. Kai says

    Absolutely fantastic, Sarah! Having grown up in Berlin, Germany, I’ve had the privelige of enjoying many a great onion soup, and I must say that this one turned out to be the best one I’ve ever had. My wife, who is an amazing cook herself, was blown away, too. Thanks for a great recipe. Looking forward to trying out some of your other creations. Best whishes from Norway (not so cold here as usual for some reason, but it sounds like you guys are having a rough time, weatherwise).

    • says

      Hi Kai, hanks for the complement and I’m so glad you liked the soup! We are having a rough time weather-wise–I’m actually planning to make this soup again this week to try to keep from freezing.

  5. Heidi krohn olsen says

    We simply loved this soup- absolutly fantastc!
    We used conjac in ours- great twist!

    Thank u so much for this receoie


  6. says

    I have to admit that I don’t actually follow recipes, I just use them as inspiration. But, yours was a great inspiration. I enjoyed both your “your eyes will cry” and “use more butter than you are comfortable with.
    BTW, cutting onions does not have to hurt. Here are four ways to cut onions painlessly: 1) Refrigerate them first. 2) Put them in ice water as you peel them but before you slice them 3) Slice them under a hood 4) Slice them outdoors (even a calm day has enough of a breeze to carry the volatile compounds that hurt your eyes away). Any one of these four is sufficient.


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