The Best French Onion Soup Recipe | (2024)

This authentic French Onion Soup recipe has a rich, decadent broth loaded with caramelized onions topped with everyone’s favorite part: the toasted bread and melty cheese.

If there’s one soup I cannot resist, it’s homemade French onion soup. I love my caramelized onions for recipes like my French Onion Cheese Bread and my French Onion Dip, but that rich, complex, sweet, and savory flavor is the absolute best in this cheesy, classic soup iteration.

This recipe for French onion soup comes from one of my favorite versions to date, from Nordstrom Café Bistro. I loved it so much after eating it many times that I asked them for the recipe, and surprise, surprise, they said yes. It’s now replaced my original French onion soup recipe here on the blog because it really is so much better.

What’s in French Onion Soup

There are a handful of additional ingredients in this easy French onion soup recipe besides what’s listed below, but here are the main flavor builders that go into this rich soup:

  • Tomato paste is added for a touch of sweetness that truly deepens the broth. It does sound unusual for this soup, but believe me, do not skip it.
  • Garlic purée adds another layer of garlic’s sweet flavor without the acrid overwhelm fresh garlic can infuse. Use a store-bought roasted garlic paste if you prefer, or make your own purée by slicing off the top ⅓ of a head of garlic and then placing it in a small baking dish.

Tip: Or, use 1 cup of peeled, fresh garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and add ½ cup water to the pan with a few peppercorns, cover with foil and bake at 350°F until the garlic is soft and tender about 1 hour. If roasting the whole head, remove the garlic from the papers and mash the cloves with a fork or in a blender.

  • A concentrated beef base (I like this one) is added to chicken stock to create the broth. I like this method of mixing two broths better than using all beef broth or beef stock for a more well-rounded flavor.
  • A fresh herb bouquet garni adds aromatics in a little muslin packet to easily discard once the cooking is done. Here’s how to make a bouquet garni.
  • Baguette slices (you could use croutons or slices of bread if you wanted––I recommend French bread)
  • A mix of provolone and gruyere cheese for that irresistibly melty, cheesy top

How to Make French Onion Soup

This recipe is not one that can be made in under 30 minutes or in the slow cooker or Instant Pot. No. This soup, while not hard to prep or make, simply takes a little time for all the depth of flavor to be created.

Slice your onions. Slice them in half lengthwise, then into half moons about ¼-inch or thicker.

Caramelize the onions. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, melt the butter and canola oil together over high heat and add the onions. Sauté, stirring occasionally until they start to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high heat and continue to sauté until the onions are a deep brown color, about 1 hour.

Build the Savory Flavor

Deglaze your pan with the sherry and red wine and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated.

Once the wines have cooked down, the flavor building continues with the addition of two special ingredients that add the umami and savory flavor building that makes this broth so rich and delicious: tomato paste and garlic purée.

Stir in the bouquet garni, chicken stock, and beef base. Simmer the soup for about 45 minutes, then discard the herbs and ladle the soup into bowls.

Top with baguette and cheese. Place two or three baguette slices and a generous helping of shredded cheese overtop each bowl of soup. Then, pop the french onion soup under the broiler to toast the baguette and melt the cheese. Garnish with fresh thyme or thyme sprigs.

How do You Deepen the Flavor of French Onion Soup

This French onion soup starts with a super savory broth base and well-caramelized onions (plan on at least an hour for the onions to get their deep dark coloring, because that’s where all of the flavors lie). If you want a deeper flavor, make sure to use a good broth and be patient with your onions (more color = more flavor).

The Best Cheese for French Onion Soup

Cheese is a very, very important component of a great F.O.S. You want it melty, and cheese-pull-worthy. Wondering what kind of cheese is in french onion soup?

I use a mix of provolone and gruyere, but these are all of my favorite cheeses for French onion soup:

  • Provolone: mild but rich with the best cheese pull-ness
  • Gruyere: a little nutty and earthy in flavor (Swiss cheese would also be a good substitute)
  • Fontina: another mild white cheese that melts well
  • Mozzarella: avoid using fresh mozzarella as it will be watery when it melts
  • Monterey Jack: a good general melty cheese that’s mild in flavor

What Onion is Best for French Onion Soup

I’ve tried both sweet Vidalia and yellow onions in making this soup, and in the end, I couldn’t tell a difference.

What is French Onion Soup Broth Made of?

Many French onion soup recipes use beef stock as the brothy base, but I actually like this method of mixing two proteins—chicken stock and beef concentrate—for a more well-rounded flavor.

Can I Freeze French Onion Soup?

Yes, this homemade french onion soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Keep in mind that you’ll need to freeze the soup without the baguette and cheese topping.

Can I Omit the Wine?

No, the sherry and red wines are a must to achieve that classic french onion soup flavor. The alcohol cooks out during the cooking process and leaves behind a super-rich flavor, so it’s a must in my book.

3 Tips for Making the Best French Onion Soup

When cutting the onions, be careful not to cut them too thin. If you cut the onions too thin, they’ll melt away as they simmer down, and nobody wants a french onion soup that’s missing the onions.

For the best flavor, use red wine and sherry wine to deglaze the pan once the onions have finished caramelizing. If you don’t have sherry, use another dry white wine of your choice instead.

Before popping the soup bowls under the broiler, I recommend setting them on a sheet pan so any melted cheese that runs down the bowls doesn’t stick to the bottom of your oven.

What to Serve with French Onion Soup

  • Kale Salad with Wild Rice and Butternut Squash
  • Roasted Beet and Ricotta Salad
  • Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan
  • Kale Salad with Cranberries, Apple and Cheddar Cheese

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo andtag me on Instagramwith #foodiecrusheats.

The Best French Onion Soup Recipe | (10)


4.82 from 129 votes

The Best French Onion Soup

This traditional French Onion Soup recipe has a rich, decadent broth loaded with caramelized onions and topped with everyone's favorite part: the toasted bread and melty cheese.

Course Soup

Cuisine French

Keyword soup

Prep Time 30 minutes minutes

Cook Time 2 hours hours

Total Time 2 hours hours 30 minutes minutes

Servings 8 servings

Calories 622kcal


  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 6 pounds yellow onions , sliced ¼ inch thick with the grain
  • ½ cup sherry wine
  • ½ cup red wine
  • cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup garlic purée
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 4 tablespoons concentrated beef base
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • thyme leaves for garnish
  • 1 baguette , cut into 1 inch slices
  • 8 slices provolone cheese
  • 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese , (optional)


  • In a large stock pot or dutch oven, melt the butter and canola oil together over high heat and add the onions. Sauté, stirring occasionally until they start to caramelize, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high and continue to sauté until the onions are a deep brown color, about 1 hour.

  • Deglaze with the sherry and red wine and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated.

  • Stir in the tomato paste and garlic purée. Add the bouquet garni, chicken stock, and beef base and bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.

  • Skim the butter fat/foamy liquid from the top, and discard. Taste for seasoning and add salt or pepper as desired. Remove the bouquet garni.

  • Ladle the soup into oven-safe bowls and top with 2-3 slices of the baguette, then top with a slice of provolone cheese and grated gruyere if desired. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and broil for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves and serve.


Soup can be refrigerated for 4 days or frozen for 3 months.


Calories: 622kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 1014mg | Potassium: 982mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 815IU | Vitamin C: 27.6mg | Calcium: 364mg | Iron: 4.1mg

More Classic Soups to Master

  • Broccoli Cheese And Potato Soup
  • The Best Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
  • How to Make the Best Minestrone Soup
  • Easy Hamburger Vegetable Soup
  • Market Street Clam Chowder Recipe
  • Instant Pot Creamy Chicken And Wild Rice Soup
  • Ina Garten’s Easy Cioppino Recipe

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The Best French Onion Soup Recipe | (2024)


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

A few sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf elevate the soup even more, but I take it a step further, adding a splash of fish sauce for complexity and depth—don't worry, it won't taste fishy—and a hit of cider vinegar to balance some of that oniony sweetness.

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 is the best wine to use in French onion soup? ›

Wine is optional to deglaze the pan and add flavour to the soup. I recommend a dry white or red wine, such as a good quality Pinot Grigio/Gris, Sauv Blanc, Sémillon, Chardonnay, Merlot or Pinot Noir. Generally, if you can't drink it, don't cook with it.

What is the difference between onion soup and French onion soup? ›

What is the Difference Between Onion Soup and French Onion Soup? French onion soup is always made with beef stock. Other onion soups can be made with chicken, vegetable, or beef stock. Additionally, French onion soup typically contains wine or sherry, which isn't typical or necessary in other onion soups.

How do you make soup taste richer? ›

Add acidic ingredients.

Foods that have a great deal of acidity, like lemon juice, vinegar, white wine, and tomato puree, can help liven up the flavor of bland-tasting bone and other broths. "The acidity of these ingredients works to complement and enhance the broth's flavors, not mask it.

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.

Should you caramelize onions for French onion soup? ›

The key to good French onion soup is to cook the onions so long that they threaten to melt into a viscous, dark brown paste, à la Marmite. As has already been extensively reported in Slate, there are no shortcuts when you're caramelizing onions; it always takes at least an hour, usually longer.

Why does my French onion soup taste burnt? ›

If the heat is too high, the onions will burn. If you don't stir often at beginning and almost constantly toward the end, the onions will burn. If one little bit burns the whole batch needs to be tossed. Otherwise the soup ends up tasting like burnt onion.

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.

Is it better to use red or white wine in French onion soup? ›

A fruity, tart, dry white wine is a classic choice that will add a lighter, more delicate balance to the otherwise strong flavors of onions, beef broth, and cheese. Red wine has a robust, sophisticated profile that will offset the strength of the other ingredients and add yet another layer of intensity.

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).

What is a good substitute for cheese in French onion soup? ›

Key Ingredients & Substitutions

Cheese: To me, there is no better cheese in a French onion soup than Gruyere! However, shredded Swiss or provolone also works very well. Just be sure to find something that is easily shredded or grated, as that's what will give you that amazing gooey, melty cheese we all love.

What broth is French onion soup made of? ›

This soup traditionally is made with beef stock, though sometimes a good beef stock can be hard to come by and expensive to make. If you use boxed stock, taste it first! If you don't like the taste, don't use it. (If you cook a lot of beef or beef roasts, save the scraps and freeze them to make a stock with later.)

Why is my French onion soup too 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.

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 get the depth of flavor in vegetable soup? ›

A squeeze of citrus, a dollop of yogurt or a drizzle of cream, a dusting of cheese or a good chile powder, a sprinkling of some herbs or croutons — all can take a perfectly fine soup into the realm of the delectable. Even a spiral of good olive oil to finish and some coarse sea salt can do wonders.

How do you add acid to French onion soup? ›

The acidity of wine helps balance the rich, sweet flavors of caramelized onions and beef broth in this classic soup. Replacing it with an acid such as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice can help fill the gap. Try adding a splash of vinegar or citrus juice at the end of cooking and adjust to taste.

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