I grew up on French onion soup. My mom would make and her mom before that. It’s been a family favorite (on my mom’s side) for as long as I can remember. She uses canned broth, and I almost chose to use it, too. But, I love a challenge in the kitchen, so I decided to make my own beef stock. I bought beef stock as a backup, just in case the beef stock went south. More on that later…
If you do choose canned or box broth, (no judgment here) the recipe is simple. It takes time, though, because caramelizing onions can take up to an hour. Once it’s done on the stove, it gets transferred to the oven until the mountain of cheese you stack on top melts and turns golden brown. Yum.
For the onions, you’ll need to slice more than you think. They’re mostly water, and they cook down a lot. And it’s onion soup after all…you can’t have too many of them! You also need quite a bit of butter to help them turn brown and not stick to the pan.
When I started the beef stock, (which began at 9 a.m. and didn’t finish till almost 5 that evening) it tasted. . . bland. It was weak. I won’t lie – I felt discouraged at this point, thinking, “This all a waste of time just to end up putting cereal on the table for dinner. ” So, I threw a pinch of salt in, covered it halfway, turned up the burner and walked away.
Another hour goes by. During this time, I’m frantically scouring the internet to see what I’ve done wrong. Alas, nothing.
However, I’m not one to quit or give up. Especially on a recipe I’d worked all day on. I chose to persevere and finish making the soup. It couldn’t get any worse from here. Then something happened.
The minute the hot broth hit the back of my throat, I knew I did it right. It was this salty, tangy taste that I was so hoping to achieve.
This soup is simple, but it does take time because of the onions. They took about 30 minutes for me but can take up to 45 and even an hour. Try your best not to rush, because you don’t want any burnt pieces of onion. Oh, and use lots of butter.
Let’s talk about the cheese! I love cheese in all shapes and forms – except blue cheese and gorgonzola. I can never eat those again and still be happy. For this, you can use any kind of cheese that melts well. So, mozzarella is great here. Gruyère and Swiss work fine, too.
Use any kind of thick, crusty bread you have on hand or can find in the store. Maybe even save some to dip in the leftover soup!
Last thing – find oven proof bowls. You can get them nearly any grocery store now. Your oven has to get pretty hot to melt the cheese, and using bowls that aren’t oven safe? It’s just asking for a disaster.
Happy slurping, everyone!
French Onion Soup
- 1/2 stick salted butter
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 8 cups yellow onion, sliced into thin pieces
- 7-8 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Shredded cheese
- Croutons or baguette slices
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt butter. Add sliced onions, one teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of pepper. Cook over medium heat until caramelized and golden brown. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
- Pour in beef stock, red wine vinegar, and remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Simmer for 20 minutes or so to let flavors come together.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Ladle into ovenproof bowls, filling each about two thirds of the way. Sprinkle a light layer of cheese directly on soup to prevent bread from getting too soggy. Add slice of baguette, then cover with shredded cheese of your choice (I like Swiss, mozzarella or provolone).
- Bake in oven until the cheese turns to the color you like. There’s no time limit on this – just bake until your desired melty, cheesy gooeyness .