Easy One-Hour French Onion Soup
Recently I was on vacation with my family and we ordered French onion soup in a restaurant.
I don’t think my daughter had ever had it before but after we all literally were about to start licking our bowls clean, I knew I had to come home and make it.
I scoured the internet for French onion soup recipes and nothing seemed ‘just right’ for me and how I like to cook. Some recipes involved really lengthy cooking times in a slow cooker (12+ hours), others called for homemade beef stock although which I’m sure is lovely, I just can’t be bothered. And others seemed incredibly fussy and complicated.
Enter this easy, straightforward recipe that’s ready in one hour. Perfect for when you want French onion soup but don’t want to be tormented for an entire day by the smell of onions cooking and wafting through the house.
The broth has rich flavor, the onions are perfectly caramelized, and that cheese. Be still, my heart.
Notes about the recipe:
Cooking sherry is inexpensive and usually found near oils and vinegars in the grocery store. It adds a depth of flavor soup that’s key. If you don’t have it but do have a dry white wine, wine can be substituted.
I used reduced sodium beef broth so I can better control the salt level.
Toasting the bread in a regular toaster before adding it on top of the soup yields a less soggy, slimy result on top of the soup.
There is no substitution for Gruyere cheese. It melts beautifully, it has the perfect savory quality, and it is what makes French onion soup quintessentially French onion soup. It’s a little pricey but worth it (and the other ingredients in the soup are quite inexpensive, so it balances out). Buy a block, grate it yourself, and savor it.
If you don’t have oven-safe bowls or are unsure if they are, add the toasted bread slices to a sheet pan, cover the bread with the cheese, place the sheet pan under the broiler, and then top each bowl of soup with the broiled bread/cheese, thereby keeping your questionable bowls out of the oven. It’s not quite the same, but it’s a pinch hitter move.
Easy One-Hour French Onion Soup
This easy, straightforward recipe is ready in one hour. The broth has rich flavor, the onions are perfectly caramelized, and that cheese is heavenly. Make sure to read the blog post ‘Notes about the recipe’ for tips and suggestions.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 pounds sweet Vidalia onions (yellow onions may be substituted), peeled and sliced root to tip in long thin segments
- 1 to 2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
- 1/3 cup dry cooking sherry (dry white wine may be substituted)
- 8 cups (64 ounces) reduced sodium beef broth
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, optional and to taste
- 1 French baguette, sliced into eight 1/2-inch thick slices (or as needed based on how many bowls you’re portioning out), toasted
- about 2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated and divided
- To a large Dutch oven or stockpot, add the oil, onions, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, toss to coat, and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes until onions have softened and are caramelized; stir intermittently.
- Add the butter, garlic, stir to combine, and cook for about 1 minute, or until garlic is fragrant.
- Add the sherry to deglaze the pan (use caution, it will bubble up). Scrape up and loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, thyme, bring to a simmer, cover, and allow soup to maintain a low simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until broth has reduced slightly and thickened slightly.
- While soup simmers, slice and toast the bread. Simply toast it in a regular toaster to a light/medium color (I find toasted bread to be less soggy and slimy on top of the finished soup); set aside.
- Preheat oven broiler to high.
- After soup has simmered, taste it and optionally add 1 additional teaspoon salt, or as necessary to taste. Optionally add sugar, to taste. I used about 2 teaspoons salt total and 1 heaping teaspoon sugar because I think it balances the flavors. Remove the bay leaves.
- Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls, top each bowl with a slice of bread, about 1/3 cup cheese per bowl or as desired, places bowls on a sheet pan, and broil for about 1 to 3 minutes, or until cheese has melted and is as dark as desired. Watch cheese closely so it doesn’t burn. All broilers vary in intensity. Serve immediately. Tip – If you don’t have oven-safe bowls or are unsure if they are, add the toasted bread slices to a sheet pan, cover bread with cheese, place sheet pan under broiler, and top each bowl of soup with the broiled bread/cheese. Soup is best warm and fresh but will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Do not add the bread/cheese until you are ready to serve.
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