French Onion Soup is a classic French dish, celebrated for its rich flavor and comforting warmth. It is a simple yet elegant soup that has gained worldwide popularity due to its depth of flavor and heartiness. The soup’s history dates back to Roman times, but it was in France where it was refined into the delicacy we know today.
The foundation of French Onion Soup is, unsurprisingly, onions. A large quantity of onions, typically yellow or brown varieties, are thinly sliced and then slowly caramelized. This caramelization is key to the soup’s flavor; the slow cooking process brings out the onions’ natural sweetness and gives them a deep golden-brown color. The onions are cooked with patience, often for as long as 45 minutes, to develop a rich, complex flavor.
Once caramelized, the onions are deglazed with a splash of wine, traditionally a dry white or a red wine, which adds an acidic balance and helps to lift the flavors. After the alcohol cooks off, a rich stock is added, most commonly beef stock, though some variations use chicken or vegetable stock. The stock’s quality is crucial as it forms the soup’s base; a rich, homemade stock will provide the best flavor.
Herbs such as thyme and bay leaves are often added for additional aromatic depth. The soup is then simmered to allow the flavors to meld together harmoniously.
The most iconic aspect of French Onion Soup is its topping. The soup is ladled into oven-safe bowls, and each serving is topped with a slice of crusty French bread or a baguette. Over the bread, a generous layer of cheese is added, traditionally Gruyère or Swiss. The soup is then broiled until the cheese melts and bubbles, forming a golden, crispy top. This cheesy crust is not only delicious but also serves to seal in the soup’s heat and flavor.
Served piping hot, French Onion Soup offers a rich, savory broth, sweet and tender onions, a crunchy bread layer, and a gooey, melted cheese topping. It’s a comfort food staple, especially in colder weather, and is often enjoyed as a starter but can be hearty enough to serve as a main course. Its combination of simple ingredients and complex flavors embodies the essence of French cuisine.
- 2 cups thinly sliced Yellow Sweet Onions
- 2 tablespoons Butter
- 1 can (15-ounce) Chicken Broth
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
- 2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes
- 1/4 cup compressed Velveeta Cheese (either cubed or shredded)
- 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups Thick White Sauce (recipe below)
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese for garnish
White Sauce Ingredients:
- 3 tablespoons Butter
- 3 tablespoons Flour
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1 1/2 cups Whole Milk
How To Make French Onion Soup
In a 1 quart sauce pan melt butter and add flour, cook on medium heat until the flour turns thick and comes away from the sides of the sauce pan. Pour milk in flour a little at a time and stir constantly, add salt. Mixture should thicken and become like thick pudding. Remember to stir constantly taking care not to let mixture lump, set aside off from heat until ready to use for the soup.
In 2-quart sauce pan place 3 tablespoons butter and sliced onions.
Cook at low to medium heat stirring frequently until soft and clear but not brown.
Add chicken broth from can, chicken bouillon cubes, salt, pepper, and stir until completely heated through. Add white sauce and Velveeta cheese.
White sauce will be thick because it has been removed from the heat. Simmer on medium low heat until the cheese is melted and all ingredients are blended, stirring constantly.
Turn temperature to warm and let cook for additional 30 to 45 minutes.
Serve with a garnish of shredded cheddar cheese, and a couple of slices of warm dark Russian Bread.