This homemade French onion soup recipe will knock your socks off! Made with the richest broth, perfect caramelized onions, and topped with three different types of melted cheese!
What can I say about French onion soup? It’s in a soup class all by itself. Using only a handful of budget-friendly ingredients, yet delivering the most amazing flavor. A bowl of this is pure comfort food and always hits the spot on a cold dreary day.
What is French Onion Soup?
Classic French Onion Soup originated in France in the 18th century and isn’t just any ‘ol soup, but basically a way of life there. Made with caramelized onions, beef broth, wine, and topped with a crusty baguette slice coated in melted cheese, it’s amazing. No surprise this soup is now incredibly popular worldwide and a restaurant favorite, but we have the French to thank for it. Thank you, France!
French Onion Soup Recipe Ingredients
Classic French onion soup only requires a few simple ingredients, the base of which are onions, beef stock, wine, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings. Plus a sliced baguette and cheese to bring it all home. In my recipe, I use a combination of beef stock, chicken stock, red wine, and also add in some balsamic vinegar, plus three different types of cheese. The flavors are bold, complex, and incredible.
What kind of onions for French onion soup? The classic way to make this soup is to use large yellow onions. But there’s no shame in using white, red, sweet, or even a combination of all four.
What kind of cheese is on French onion soup? Gruyere cheese is the traditional choice. In this recipe, I use a combination of Swiss, Mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. You can’t go wrong with any of them.
What kind of wine is used in French onion soup? Wine is used to deglaze the pan, and while it is optional, it lends a depth of flavor you don’t want to miss out on. You can use a dry white like Sauv Blanc or Chardonnay, or a dry red like Merlot or Pinot Noir. Red wine is used in this recipe.
Tips for the Best French Onion Soup
There are three essential components to good French Onion Soup:
- Stock: this soup is traditionally made with beef stock. If you’ve got scraps from a leftover roast and time to make beef stock from scratch, do it! I never have time for that, so I opt for store-bought. But instead of buying it canned, I actually get it from the butcher. Either way, make sure it’s the best quality. It’s the base of this soup and can make or break it.
- Onions: properly caramelizing the onions is critical. A quick sauté or even golden is not good enough for French onion soup. Those onions need to be fully caramelized for the deepest color and flavor. It’s a non-negotiable.
- Time: time and patience is required for this soup. But the pay off is worth it, I promise! Properly caramelized onions takes time, about 40 minutes. Then those simmer in the broth for a long time. Skimping on either will get you less than stellar results. The good news is, a lot of the time is hands-off, so at least you’re not laboring away at the stove the entire time.
How to Make French Onion Soup
There are five steps to making this soup. Here’s a brief rundown. (Scroll down for the detailed printable.)
- Caramelize the onions: you’ll cook the onions in butter low and slow, stirring occasionally for a good 40-45 minutes, adding in salt and a little bit of sugar (which helps the caramelization process along.)
- Deglaze the pot: pour in the red wine to deglaze the pot, scraping up any brown bits.
- Simmer with the other ingredients: stir in the stock, Worcestershire, and seasonings. Gently simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard the herbs, stir in the vinegar, taste and adjust any flavors, if necessary.
- Toast the bread: while the soup is simmering, prep the bread. Traditionally, the bread is basted with olive oil and toasted in the oven until golden.
- Ladle soup into bowls and broil: place oven-safe bowls or crocks on a sturdy baking sheet. Ladle soup into each bowl, top with the toasted bread and cheese, then place under the broiler for a couple minutes (6-inches from the heat source, keeping a close eye, so nothing burns!) until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and golden.
As the cheese softens, it will fall over the sides of the bowls and form a luscious crusty seal. To die!
French Onion Soup Bowls
Want that bistro style look and feel? Then you need to serve this soup in some French onion soup bowls. True French Onion Soup made in restaurants will always be served in special crocks. Some come with lids and handles, some are more basic, but they’re always made of a good quality ceramic that can withstand high heat in the oven and are 10 ounces in size – anything larger and the cheese will sink into the soup instead of being stuck to the outside. Special bowls are not required, of course, but they are nice to have, not only for this soup, but also to serve other soups and chili in.
French Onion Soup Recipe Notes
- Caramelizing onions is a chemical thing. It happens when the natural sugar in the onions reaches a certain temperature. This takes a while, which is why you need to be patient and stir occasionally, not constantly, or they won’t brown. While the sugar in the beginning is optional (although highly recommended for taste and to help the process along), the salt is a must. Don’t skip it.
- You can make this vegetarian by replacing the beef and chicken stock with vegetable stock and use vegan Worcestershire.
- The red wine not only deglazes the pan, but it cooks off and deepens the flavor of this soup. Having said that, if you are completely opposed to using it, you can skip it, but note that the soup will not be as tasty.
- If you don’t have oven-safe bowls (as mentioned earlier), you can skip the broiling part, make cheese toasts on a baking sheet and top the soup with those, or even use croutons.
What to Serve with French Onion Soup
You certainly can enjoy this soup all on its own, but it’s also wonderful with a simple salad or a side of sautéed mushrooms. For a complete meal, serve it with a nice skillet steak, bangers and mash, glazed salmon, or a roast beef sandwich.
If you’ve got leftovers, you can store them and have another delicious meal for lunch or dinner the next day.
How long can French onion soup last in the fridge? Allow to cool completely, then transfer to a large airtight container or individual ones. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Can French onion soup be reheated? Yep. Remove soup from the fridge, pour into bowls, and place in a preheated oven for 15 minutes, then top with the fresh cheesy bread.
Can you freeze French onion soup? You can freeze this soup without the cheesy bread. Add soup to freezer safe containers and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to eat, let soup thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Make the cheesy bread fresh before serving.
The deep, dark broth, silky buttery onions, and gooey cheese on top of crunchy bread will make you weak in the knees. If you’ve only enjoyed this soup at restaurants, now you can make it at home. It’s really quite something!
Other Classic Soup Recipes
Watch it Being Made
I hope you love this delicious and simple recipe – be sure to give it a review below! Also don’t forget to follow Belly Full on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!
French Onion Soup
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 large yellow onions , thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 32 ounces low-sodium beef broth
- 24 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
- 5 1-inch thick slices of French bread
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere Swiss cheese , room temperature
- 1/4 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese , room temperature
- 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese , room temperature
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add in the onions and sauté, stirring often, until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium, stir in the salt and sugar; cook for another 35 minutes, stirring occasionally (every 5 minutes or so), until onions are caramelized and almost syrupy.
- Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Pour in the red wine to deglaze the pot, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom and sides.
- Add in the beef broth, chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, and bay leaf.
- Gently simmer over medium/medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove and discard the herbs.
- Mix in vinegar and taste. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Reduce heat to low, cover to keep hot while you prepare the bread.
- Preheat oven broiler, with rack 6 inches from the heat source. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet and brush both sides with the olive oil. Broil 2-3 minutes, flipping once, until well toasted on both sides. (NOTE: keep an eye on the bread the entire time to ensure it doesn't burn. Every oven is different.) Remove from heat; leave broiler on.
- Arrange oven safe bowls or crocks on a rimmed baking sheet. Fill each bowl 2/3 full with hot soup. Top each bowl with 1 slice toasted bread, and sprinkle with the Swiss, Mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses.
- Broil until bubbly and golden brown. As it softens, the cheese will fall over the sides of the crock and form a wonderful crusty seal.
- Serve and enjoy!
Reader Questions and Reviews
I used all Vidailia onions a little sweeter but still delicious
the best….my belly is full…lol
I made this French onion soup for a group home and everyone loved it including staff.
Fabulous recipe. I have made this several times and everyone raves.
What kind of red wine did you use or recommend?
Hi Amy, I learned to make french onion soup for the first time from your recipe and I’ve made about 50 times since then. It’s SO good. Thank you so much!
Hi Amy! Made your French onion soup tonight! I’ve made this many times but I used your recipe tonight, it was absolutely delicious!! The best I’ve ever made! My husband literally moaned over this one! Couldn’t tell if he was making love to it or eating it? great recipe and I followed it exact!
My husband enjoyed this very much. I used Emeril beef stock and 2 c of Penzy’s chicken base in 2 c water and 2 tsp Penzy’s beef base. It was very flavorful.
I love this soup so much! My hubby did not like the smell in the house or burning eyes from the raw onions (cutting up) , but the soup taste is out of this world!! Thanks for the recipe!!
I’ve been making French onion soup for 30 years. I made this recipe last night, and my husband said “that was your best one yet!” so, I’ll be using this recipe from now on! Thanks!
We made this for dinner last night. I substituted five cheese Texas toast. It was amazing!
We loved this! I didn’t add the balsamic vinegar since I was out, and it was absolutely delicious. Thank you
I’d give this recipe 10 stars if I could! Best french onion soup I’ve ever made.
This is the best recipe for onion soup. I used sherry instead of wine. It went over great in my house. I threw away my previous recipes for this delicious soup
Great recipe! I added a bit more red wine and Worcestershire. The flavors balanced perfectly. So delicious
BEST recipe out there!! So delicious and so easy to make!
I messed up! Doubled the recipe, sliced onions day before, kept in the refrigerator and added to pot while cold. Cooked double the time but they did not caramelize (did not read your article, did not realize how critical it is to caramelize). Serving tomorrow night — what can I do to enhance flavor if the onions did not turn that rich brown (more of a gold), and I didn’t have the brown bits at the bottom of the pan? Next time I’ll pay more attention to the details!
Hi Pierre! So sorry to hear this. Unfortunately, there’s not an ideal way to correct this, but you could try and saute them further with a bit more salt, sugar, Worcestershire sauce.
I would saute additional onions then add them to your already made soup.
I’m wondering if I can use Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base since I’m cooking for vegetarians?
Hi Nancy! I’ve never tested it this way, but you could try it. As long as it produces the same amount and consistency as the other liquids it should be fine…obviously changing the flavor, though.
I am thinking of making this soup in a crock pot. Has anyone tried this? Also, I am a vegetarian so would use vegetable broth. Any suggestions on what to up and/or add to maintain the taste. TIA
First time making French onion soup and this was absolutely delicious!! I used half beef stock half veggie stock so I doubled up on the worstershire and balsamic for flavor. This is better than at the restaurant!! My husband loved it as well. Will definitely make again. Thank you
Great recipe it is the one I follow most closely. I do add extra butter, 2-3 more onions, no chicken stock just extra beef. I also add the sugar, salt and thyme in with he onions and butter. I increase the wine and I have found a Pinot noir is the best kind of red wine for this, I added pre chopped garlic but still added another 1/2 tsp. 2 bay leaves and I cook it the night before, this allows the flavors to meld and be more cohesive. This is my husbands favorite soup so I am always trying to make it just a little better.
It took a while, but so worth it!
Best french soup I’ve ever had. Wow.
I usually make Fr. onion soup once or twice a year and this was best ever. The secret is in the onions. Highly recommend a spider for the onion browning.
Never made French Onion Soup before but decided to try your recipe since you said it would knock my socks off and indeed it did. My husband loves FOS and he said it was the best he’s ever had, including a five-star steak house in the area. It was truly devine, if you like FOS, you’ll love this, thanks for sharing Amy! Merry Christmas to All!
I am making this for dinner party serving eight people. Should I double the recipe?
This is an amazing recipe. I made it last week and was seriously impressed at how rich the taste was. Yesterday, I made it again, this time doubling the recipe to give some to my daughter and her husband. Four large yellow onions and one red one, doubled to make 10 onions in all. However, the browning of the onions looked to me to be a bit difficult in the very large soup pot I have, so I cooked 5 first, right up to the time you add the liquid, then took those out, and repeated the browning/carmelizing with the second batch. Once all browned, added the first batch back in then proceeded with adding the liquids (including the wine for deglazing). Came out just right the second time. So, to sum it up, split the onions first, cook in two batches before adding the liquids. Hope that helps.
It was so good. I have to say I blew my hubby out of the park with this.
I made the French Onion Soup today and it was wonderful! Thank you for sharing your recipe.
So good! Made this tonight and my 4 and 7 year old told me I need to go work in a restaurant, they loved it!
First time ever eating and making French onion soup. It was amazing! I did my own thing with seasoning and such. Will definitely make again.
Best onion soup I’ve ever made. This recipe is fantastic
The soup was delicious. Loved the addition of the herbs!
Made this recipe twice for two different families, both loved it. Truly the best ever.
Recipe was easy to follow, hadn’t made this for decades. Thankyou ..
I Loved this recipe, simple and flavorful. Can’t wait to make it again.!
What wine brand do you all recommend? I’m going to make this but I’d really like some wine suggestions.
Yummy!!! It is so good that I’m making it even during our heatwave.
This was excellent. Made it as instructed, but with an extra clove of garlic, because I love garlic. Thanks for sharing!
Has great flavor but next time I will do the onions in a shallow pan first and transfer them to the pot.
This French onion soup was so Delicious ,thank you for sharing!!!?
This recipe makes the best French onion soup I’ve ever tasted! I was intrigued with the addition of balsamic vinegar. Can’t wait to make it again!
Followed the recipe exactly and wow! This is phenomenal! I love French onion soup and this has to be my favorite! Thank you for this recipe!
Amazing French onion recipe! I did my onions in slow cooker all night which came out perfect. Only addition I added was half a Yuengling lager beer, which was a great touch. Thanks!
3rd time making it. This soup is magical, I just about cry when I eat it. Thank you!
I have made this recipe at least a dozen times now. It is the very best I have ever had! I freeze it in containers to have anytime we want . Tastes just as good as fresh made. Thank you for this delicious recipe.
Excellent! Rich deep flavor… followed as written… delicious!
This was the best!! And overall pretty easy to make! Very flavorful!
This is a great recipe although I found it was a bit too much cheese for me. Maybe add 1/2 tsp Better than Boullion beef paste.
I almost never write reviews, unless a life changing event occurs, and it has with the tasting of what quite possibly could be the very best French onion soup that I have ever had. French onion is my favorite soup, I’ve judged many a bowl, I’ve sought out the best. The depth of flavor in the broth is tantalizing, this could be served proudly at any restaurant.
We loved this soup!
Loved this recipe! However, next time I will omit the sugar and use all beef broth. Kudos!
loved it! followed your recipe exactly and glad we did so!
First time making French a onion Soup, and it was scrumptious! I’m reheating for supper and it says to reheat in the oven, but at what temp? Ty so much!
Crazy delicious! Will make again and again.
So good! And filling too! Was contemplating if we needed a side or something in addition to this but we did not…one bowl was plenty filling!
Omg this was the best French onion soup I have ever had. Can’t wait to make it again and for company. Was a lovely meal for Sunday supper on a rainy night! Thank you
The absolute best french onion soup – I’d give this recipe 10 stars if I could. We loved it!
My co-worker made this recipe on a HOT PLATE!! It was so good ~ I demanded the recipe. I am going to make it this weekend! The absolute best French onion soup I have EVER had!! Thanks so very much!! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
I bought those french onion croc bowls a couple years ago just to make french onion soup, but they’ve just been collecting dust…until now! Found this recipe and decided to try it based on all the good reviews. It was amazing. Sort of kicking myself for not making it sooner. Worth the wait. Will use my croc bowls a lot. HA.
Good recipe. But was missing the sherry. Thank you
I loved this recipe, I have a question i don’t drink wine what can I substitute it for
You could use some of the beef or chicken stock.
Non-alcoholic red wine or grape juice!
Wow! Followed the recipe as is and it is truly amazing! My wife, who isn’t a big French Onion Soup fan even liked it. This one’s a keeper! Thanks so much for sharing!
I just made this for dinner …and I’m eating my SECOND bowl as I write this!!! YUM YUM YUM
OMG! This is the best. My husband and I will continue to use this recipe.
Amy, would you, if you can, please specify what beef stock you ask your butcher for (also the chicken broth)? When I asked our butcher he looked at me like I had 3 heads! Am so excited to try your recipe as my husband and I love French onion soup. Thank you for any information, help you give. Kathy L
Hi Kathy! That’s so odd about your butcher. When I ask, I’m not specific. He just hands me what they have/use. Also, you can totally buy broth in the carton and it will be just fine. I’m partial to Pacific Food brand, but Swanson is perfectly fine. Just make sure whatever you use is low-sodium, otherwise the soup will be too salty. You guys are going to love it!
I use typical beef and chicken stock from the grocery store aisles and it’s always amazing.
Very good! Thanks for the recipe!
I made it and it was great! A lot of work but worth it! Thank you!
Great recipe! I opted the second time for all beef broth. Was amazing. Just a matter of taste. Thank you!
I’ve tried many recipes over the years and this one is the best, hands down!
What a fantastic recipe! Wow this soup definetly was THE best French onion soup I have ever made. My husband loved it and raved about it for days. Thank you for sharing. He also loved the cheesy bread and asked for more the next day. He does not like cheesy anything but loved this recipe. Super recipe, thanks again. The next best is I have another meal in the freezer!
This was soooo yummy! I didn’t have chicken stock so used all beef broth and still great. Never heard of balsamic in French onion soup, that put it over the top! Thank you.
Had an over abundance of onions this week and this was the perfect way to use them. So good!
This is the best french onion soup I have ever had. Including restaurants! Thank you for sharing.
I’m not sure about the chicken broth so could I use all beef broth? The reason I ask is Outback’s French Onion tastes like chicken broth and I do not care for it. Thanks!
Because there’s a mix of beef and chicken broth, I think you’d still like it. But. yes, you could use all beef broth. The flavor will be a lot richer and…well, beefier (obviously.) It’s not my preference, but I’m sure it will still be great!
I’ve tried other onion soup recipes on Pinterest and this is truly the best! My husband and daughter requested second servings.”… it is that good! Thanks for sharing.
This was the best French onion soup I’ve ever had let alone made at home!!!
This soup is awesome! Easy and rich and delicious!
Best French Onion Soup ever!! I’m throwing all my other recipes away!
This is a great recipe. My honey and I loved it!
Thank you so much for this recipe! Is such an amazing flavor! I have tried a couple of other recipes before and they were good, but I am always looking for AMAZING! This recipe was it! The only thing I had to sub was the thyme as I didn’t have fresh so I used dried. That was it. Thank you again!
This is a delicious French Onion soup recipe. Thank you
Made this tonight, it was better than a restaurant’s! Excellent recipe. I opted for the cheese toast, perfect! Didn’t have wine, so used 1 part brandy and 2 parts sherry. also used provolone and Swiss cheese.
This is restaurant worthy! We loved the soup so much!
This recipe was amazing. Best french onion soup I’ve ever had, honestly. Some recipes need to be tweaked, but not this one – perfect as is!
Delicious! Followed the recipe, including taking the time to carmelize the onions! Turned out great!! Thank you so much for a great recipe!
Excellent soup! I used white wine because that’s what I had open and it was marvelous! Not salty like most French Onion soups. Will make again!
My search for the best french onion soup is over! Perfect flavors and ratio of onions to the broth, and amount of cheese. This was excellent.
Loved this recipe! I made it for my family of 8 and added about 50% more to the recipe. Perfect flavors and broth tastes delicious. I would make this again!
Just made this tonight and it’s perfect! Thank you!
Best French onion soup I’ve ever had!