Let me level with you: this was the most nervous I’ve ever been to make a meal. FOS has always seemed WAY too fancy for me and I assumed it took attention to detail and patience that I just don’t have. Prior to making this, I did a lot of research on different recipes…from Julia Child, to Bon Appetit, to random blogs on how to make the best French Onion Soup. After all, French Onion Soup has been around for centuries, dating as far back as Roman times. During the 18th century, FOS was seen as a “poor people’s” meal because onions were so inexpensive and required a minimal amount of ingredients. This soup made a fancy comeback in France during the 18th century, creating the boujee soup that we know (and love) today.
So here we are…the pressure is on, as this is my boyfriend’s favorite meal, and one he’s been requesting since we started dating. After seeking out advice and doing my research, I think I’ve created the best French Onion Soup West of the Mississippi.
P R E P
This is not a quick meal to throw together. You will need some time to get this delicious soup done, however you could make this ahead of time and reheat when you put it in the oven, but I like to live life on the edge and stress myself out so…if I can do this, you can do this too.
I will say the one relaxing part of making this soup is all the down time you have while it’s cooking and simmering. I downed half a bottle of wine (somehow making the process less stressful…not sure why…), and was able to get showered and ready to present this meal without the panic of running out of time.
My advice, as always, is to get things prepped ahead of time so you’re literally just adding goodies to the pot.
What you’ll need
- 1 large pot.
- Cooking twine.
- 1 apple. Go for red.
- 4-6 16 oz ramekins or oven-proof bowls. This is crucial! Don’t use just regular soup bowls.
- 5 tablespoons of butter; divided. 3 tablespoons will be used in the beginning, the other 2 will be used at the end.
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil.
- 4 Vidalia Onions (roughly 3 pounds), thinly sliced. You can alternatively use yellow sweet onions.
- 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar.
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper.
- 1 teaspoon of salt.
- 1/2 cups of dry white wine. Plan on just finishing this bottle.
- 6 cups of organic, low-sodium beef broth. Trust me…get the good stuff, it will make all the difference.
- 10 sprigs of thyme. The more thyme the merrier.
- 2 bay leaves.
- 1 baguette. Sourdough was the right call!
- 4 oz Gruyere cheese.
Total Prep Time vs Total Cooking time:
Prep: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Part I: The Soup
- In your large pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
- Add vegetable oil and all the onions. Cook until onions are slightly translucent, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.
- Add salt, pepper and sugar and continue to cook until onions are a deep golden brown. At this point they’ll be all nice and caramelized; this should take roughly 40 minutes. Be sure to reduce heat slightly if onions seem to be browning too quickly.
- Once they’re caramelized, increase the stove heat to high and add the white wine. Continue to cook (don’t lower the heat!) for 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Be patient!
- Tie your thyme and bay leaf with the kitchen twine and place in the pot.
- Add the beef broth and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, go ahead and lower the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered.
- Continue to cook until the soup thickens up, roughly 20-30 more minutes.
- Remove from heat and remove the herb/twine combo.
- Add 2 tablespoons of butter and gently whisk into the pot.
Part 2: The Bread
- Turn your oven to broil.
- Cut about a 1/2″ slice of bread for every serving, and then some for dipping later!
- Place slices on a cookie sheet and place in your oven.
- Be sure to cook these on each side for only 1-2 minutes! You don’t want them to be too crispy.
- Optional: rub each slice of bread with a garlic clove for added flavor.
Part 3: The Presentation
- Place bowls on the same cookie sheet.
- Optional: add 1-2 tablespoons of dry sherry to each bowl. Makes a world of difference!
- Ladle in soup to each bowl, and place one slice of bread on top. Depending on the size of your bowl, you can use up to two slices on top.
- Divide the Gruyere cheese among each bowl, covering the bread and the soup.
- Place your cookie sheet in the oven and broil for about 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is melty and golden.
- Slice up your apple as a garnish. You’ll thank me later.
- Serve on top of a seperate plate and be sure to warn your date/guests that the soup and bowl will be VERY hot.
POST COOKING NOTES
- I know this recipe seems intimidating because I felt the exact same way, but after making it I can put your mind at ease: this was not nearly as intense as I expected. Now that I’ve made it I think it could be easy to make ahead of time and have as an appetizer for a big, fancy meal.
- Don’t cheat yourself with getting the specifics for this recipe! It really makes a difference.
- Pair this will a bottle (or 2) of wine-I’d recommend starting by finishing off that bottle of white wine, and then having a glass of Merlot with the meal. Just a suggestion though!