You may think this soup is not popular in the real France, I did. But I was wrong! It is a classic hearty meal served all over France with pride and love! It will always be popular and on the menu!
I have made many versions of French Onion Soup including recipes from Julià Child, Everyday Parisian, This French Life, La Cuisine Paris, and The Original Dish. This recipe is a combination of techniques with Julia Child’s being the main classic source.
Here are some differences between the recipes I’ve tried.
Some recipes don’t add flour as Julia does. I think the browned flour adds depth to the flavor and a tiny bit of thickening to the broth.
Others use more onion or a variety of onions. I prefer using only yellow onions in this soup. Sweet onions end up being condensed in a not good sweet flavor.
Bay leaf and sage are often omitted and sometimes thyme is added. I like the sage and bay flavors. They’re richer.
Red or white wine? I’ve seen both in recipes. I prefer the earthy flavor and fragrance of sherry.
Chicken or beef broth? Homemade or store bought? Many new chefs like the lighter flavor of chicken broth. Classic French onion soup is made with homemade beef broth. I don’t have time for that. The Better Than Bouillon Roasted Beef Base is what I use. It’s a great beef concentrate paste you mix with hot water. The professional kitchens use it and it can be found in most grocery stores in the soup section. Their Organic Chicken Base is also very good
After spending several weeks in France I’ve learned that torn croutons are easier to eat than a large slice of toasted bread floating on top of the soup. The croutons don’t need to be brushed with oil before roasting either. Just tear the baguette into 1-2 inch pieces and bake at 425F 5 minutes or less, until lightly toasted on 1 side. They crisp up further when cooling.
The grated cheese can be any hard strong flavor cheese like Swiss, Emmental, or Parmesan. Emmental is Swiss Alpine cheese and is the classic. Mozzarella is too stringy when melted.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 pounds yellow onions, not sweet onions, peeled, halved and sliced thin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 8 cups hot beef broth, Better Than Bouillon Beef Base mixed with water
- 1 cup dry sherry
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 French baguette
- Grated Swiss cheese, Emmental, Comté or Parmesan. Not a real stringy cheese
- In a heavy 4 quart saucepan or casserole melt butter. Add onion and mix well.
- Cover saucepan and cook over medium low 15-20 minutes, stirring at times, until soft and translucent.
- Raise heat to medium high and remove cover. Add salt and sugar. Stir on and off. You will caramelize the onions to a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes.
- Lower heat to medium, stir in flour and cook about 2 minutes until flour is lightly browned. Remove from heat.
- Whisk in 1 cup broth and blend well. Add remaining broth, sherry, bay and sage. Heat to simmering for 40 minutes. Season to taste.
- This makes 8 big servings. It freezes well!
- To make individual gratinéed style, tear some bread pieces from a baguette. Enough to cover the surface of each bowl. Place bread on a baking sheet in a 425 degree oven and bake 2-5 minutes. Watch closely. Crisp and very slightly brown the top side. They will crisp up further as they cool.
- Place oven proof bowls on a baking sheet. Fill each with the soup. Cover the soup surface with croutons. Sprinkle with grated cheese.
- Place under broiler 2 minutes or just until melted or slightly browned.
- Serve each soup bowl on a dinner plate.
- Voila! There you have it!