Classic French Onion Soup Topped With A Twist
[Updated 1 June 2020]There are few soups which have the sweet mellow depths of French onion soup recipe. Easy and fast cooking, gently caramelized onions are stewed in a rich broth with an almost imperceptible hint of wine running through it.
Traditionally topped off with a crunchy crouton and cheese grilled until it crisps at the edges, this is the best French onion soup recipe I’ve ever tasted and it comes from Helene, a French friend, and colleague who shared it with us a few weeks ago.
Do give this recipe a try – it really is as super delicious as Helene promised – eating it feels like a big warm hug.
Have I got your mouth watering yet?
Don’t be fooled by the length of the post – this really is a French onion soup recipe easy to make and divine to eat, but here I’ve included how to make croutons plus the method using pastry as a topping so the post got kinda looong!
Try my alternative twist of using pastry rather than croutons – even faster to finish and really satisfies a winter appetite, sprinkle cheese over the soup then top off with crispy light puff pastry as pictured top right. Note I was being careful with calories when I made this version, so I skipped the caramelizing with sugar step and gently sweated the onions instead, so the soup is noticeably lighter than the full-fat version pictured below.
The soup takes about an hour and a half of cooking time but you really only need to attend to it for about 30 in total including the prep. If you make this in advance and cheat as I did with shop bought frozen puff pastry dough, it can be on the table in 25 minutes – and do you know, I think it gains a lot of flavor for being left overnight to mature.
To Serve 6 Hungry People
- Make the croutons either first or whilst the onions are caramelizing and you’ll reduce your time spent actually working this meal up.
- You’ll need a thick slice of bread, one for each person, crusts off
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- To make crispy croutons take 1 tablespoon of olive oil and combine with 1 clove of well-crushed garlic
- Spread over foil or a silicone baking mat – you need a flat surface
- Gently lace down on the oil and garlic mix then flip and coat the other side
- If you want small croutons cut into squares
If you want one large crouton, cut ½ an inch smaller than the size of the bowl so it fits neatly inside. Now bake in the oven on medium heat for about 30 minutes until golden and crunchy – do keep an eye on them, ovens vary as we know.
Classic Easy French Onion Soup – Ingredients
- 1 ½ lb of onions very thinly sliced (a mandoline slicer is perfect for this)
- 2 pints of really good beef stock
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar – brown if you have it
- 12 fluid ounces of dry white wine
- 2 oz of butter
- Black pepper freshly ground if you can
- Add both tablespoons of oil and all the butter to a saucepan and put the heat on high
- When the oil is hot add the sliced onions, sugar and crushed garlic
- Turn constantly and cook until the edges of the onion begin to color dark brown and reduce the heat to its lowest setting (usually 4-5 minutes)
- Continue to cook very gently with the lid on for another 20 – 30 minutes depending on how thinly you sliced the onions – if the mixture looks like burning to add a tablespoon of stock, but this shouldn’t be necessary (make the croutons while the soup cooks)
- Add the white wine and season with freshly ground pepper
- Return the soup to a simmer and put the lid on, now leave to gently cook for an hour
To Serve With Croutons
- Put the grill on high – you’ll need heatproof serving bowls for this
- Put the hot soup into pre-warmed bowls and float the crouton/s on the top. Divide the Gruyere cheese evenly and sprinkle on the top of each then put under a hot grill until the cheese has melted and is bubbling – I set the fire alarm off by the way.
- Serve immediately – please warn your guests that the bowls have just come out from under a grill and are super hot – no touchy!
To Serve With Puff Pastry
To serve as pictured top right with puff pastry, put the oven onto a medium heat and add an allocated portion of grated Gruyere cheese to each bowl then top each bowl off with puff pastry – put immediately into the oven and bake until risen and golden brown.
Unlike the croutons I tried not to let the pastry touch the onion soup, so half a spoonless in each bowl and remember the level will rise when you add the cheese.