Some days you really need comfort food. My day started with a very early drive to rescue my son whose car was broken down an hour away. The unexpected road trip threw me off a bit so making this classic French Onion Soup was a perfect way to relax. The process of thinly slicing onions and slowly cooking them until they were perfectly caramelized was very therapeutic. And some days you just need a good cry! Honestly, it was the onions….
French Onion Soup is one of those dishes that’s pretty easy to make, inexpensive and completely open to your preferred ingredients and preparation. In the end it doesn’t matter how you slice the onions, which type of cheese you use or what broth you prefer. If you take the time to slowly cook the onions, the resulting taste is what matters most. Homemade broth is always best. Always. But don’t let that be a deal breaker.
For this recipe I’m using chicken broth and white wine. It’s very similar to French Onion and Leek Soup made with beef stock. But I tried a few different things and thought it was worth posting.
I did use a bit of sugar in the onions this time because I used white wine and chicken broth which doesn’t have the sweetness that the port added to the beef based version. And I sliced the onions into rounds. Not that the shape matters really, after sautéing the onions for that long they do tend to break up anyway.
And I simmered the onions in the white wine before adding the chicken broth so some of the alcohol cooked off. That isn’t really an issue in my house. But you can leave the wine out and just increase the amount of chicken broth.
Crusty cheesy bread topping for French Onion Soup
I like to give the toasted baguette a good rub with a clove of garlic instead of putting garlic in the soup. It basically melts onto the bread and infuses it with lots of flavour. For most people including myself, the bread is the best part of this soup but don’t be tempted to use more than 2 slices of baguette because it will soak up too much of the broth. And a nice Swiss cheese is the perfect topping. It’s a great way to use up stale bread too!
Our good friends Frank and Marilyn were coming for dinner and we hadn’t seen them in ages. This soup just feels like good friends! It’s warm and comfortable and comes with wine! And it’s so yummy and filling you don’t have to worry about the main course. In fact you could skip it all together and go right for dessert.
You can prepare the components of the soup in advance and put it together at the last minute. Super easy! And it’s easily adaptable to the number of servings so if you use the ratio of about 1 large onion and 1 1/2 cups of broth per person you’ll have the right balance. It’s a great option if you would rather spend time catching up than cooking.
Here’s the recipe:
French Onion Soup
- 4 large yellow onions
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 6 cups chicken broth homemade if possible
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme or a fresh sprig if in season
- pepper to taste
- 8 slices baguette stale is fine
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
- Remove outer skin from onions and slice very thinly into rings.
- Melt butter in a large stock pot over low heat and add onions. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until onions are very soft, approximately 20 minutes.
- Increase heat slightly and add sugar and salt. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until onions turn golden brown and begin to caramelize, being careful not to let them get too dark.
- Add white wine and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring. Add chicken broth, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and pepper. Simmer for 20-30 minutes on low.
- Meanwhile, arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet. Toast under broiler until lightly toasted, then turn and toast other side. Remove from oven and rob garlic briskly over each piece while still warm.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Shred cheese. Remove bay leaf from soup and ladle into 4 oven safe bowls. Top with two toasted baguette slices, pressing gently into the broth. Top with Swiss cheese.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, then turn oven to broil for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling on top.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving.