French Onion Soup

Remember you can skip the long story and go straight to the recipe here.


My first memorable experience with French Onion Soup came during a bar job I had in college.  A lazy supervisor instructed me to get a bowl of this soup I've never heard of before.  Thinking it was for a customer, I quickly went to our kitchen and assembled the soup per his instructions.  Piece of cheese in the bowl, ladle of soup, croutons, more cheese, hand to cooks for broiling.  When I returned to the bar and realized the soup was for him, not only did our comically hateful relationship take root, but so did my curiosity with French Onion Soup.


Fast forward to Sunday of my wedding weekend.  The ceremony and reception were over, the guests had long left the area, and it was just my wife and I.  We were wrapping up our day with a small dinner at The Cork 1794 in North East, PA before heading back to our room. Torn between clam chowder and French Onion I decided to ask our waitress for her preference.  Her lack of hesitation sold me on the French Onion which was so good my meal ended up being two bowls of the soup.  After that experience I decided it was time to perfect French Onion Soup at home.

After trying a few recipes I realized I needed to make my own combination of ingredients and techniques to make that perfect bowl of French Onion Soup.  Here is a quick list of some recipes I used for guidance and how they influenced the final product.

Source Main Takeaways Summary
• Red wine did not contribute to desired flavor.
Tyler has many great recipes so trying his French Onion first was an easy choice. I had to try a recipe with Red wine as an ingredient, but it wasn't necessary. Use Gruyere or don't make the soup!
• Include Bay Leaf & Thyme Sprigs
• Gruyere or bust.
Julia Childs • Put in extra time cooking the onions. This recipe opened me up to using white wine and cognac while really driving home the point that to make a good bowl of soup you need to put in the time cooking the onions.
• Let the slow cooker do the work for you.
Using a slow cooker not only makes this recipe easy to prepare, but cooking the onions for such a long period of time really brings out a lot of flavor. It also eliminates the need to use flour or corn starch.
• Again with the Gruyere!
• Use less vinegar.
• Include different types of onions.
Serious Eats doesn't joke around when preparing some French Onion. I leaned heavily on this recipe in making my own.
• I used many of the ingredients in this recipe.


  • 8 Cups of Mixed Onions
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Tsp Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1-2 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 4 Cups Beef Broth
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 Cup Sherry
  • 1 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Fish Sauce
  • 2 Sprigs Thyme
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 Loaf Fresh French Bread
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • Shredded Gruyere Cheese


Mix the following into a slow cooker crock pot and cook on low for 10 hours.

  • Onions, Butter, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, and Minced Garlic.

Add the following and cook for an additional 6 hours on low.

  • Beef & Chicken Broth, Sherry, Apple Cider Vinegar, Fish Sauce, Thyme, and Bay Leaf.

You ready for crazy?  Because this is going to sound crazy.  By all means you are entitled to enjoy a bowl of the soup at this point.  It's been at least 16 hours and I'm sure you're hungry.  Hear me out though.  Rather than serve this right away I want you to let it cool down and then put it in the refrigerator for the night.  By putting off your enjoyment another day you are allowing the salts, acids, and other various flavors the time to work their magic.



While you can use just about anything you like, I'm strongly recommending to make your own toasted bread pieces for this recipe.

  • Thinly slice and cut a few pieces of fresh French Bread and place on a baking sheet.
  • Generously brush olive oil onto each piece of bread.
  • Cover each piece with a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan Cheese.
  • Set your oven to broil and place the bread in the oven for 1 to 3 minutes.
  • Once your bread and cheese begins getting to a nice light brown, flip the bread and toast the underneath for 1 to 3 minutes.
  • Break the toasted bread apart and prepare to assemble your French Onion Soup!


  • On medium low heat, warm a few servings of onion soup on the stove top.
  • Turn your oven on to broil.
  • Once warm, spoon your desired amount of soup into an oven safe bowl or ramekin.
  • Place a few pieces of toasted French Bread onto the soup and cover with a generous amount of Gruyere with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
  • Put the French Onion Soup into your oven to broil for 2 to 5 minutes or until the cheese has reached its golden brown perfection.
  • Once out of the oven, garnish with a light dash of freshly chopped chives and serve right away.


It is difficult to appreciate the complexity in a good bowl of French Onion Soup until you've tried to make it yourself.  The amount of time spent with trial and error on this recipe far exceeded what is typical for my kitchen.  Once I decided to not limit myself to the suggestions or ingredients of one recipe I found success.

The one admittedly questionable part of this recipe is using both Chicken and Beef Stock.  While I'm sure it's been done before, I've only ever heard of mixing stock in a recipe when one is vegetable.   This combination of the Chicken and Beef in my broth only expanded the range of flavors.

With the exception of very slight tweaking, I am confident I found the French Onion Soup recipe I will be using each and every time I make it in the future.  Slowly cooking these ingredients over the course of one or two days creates an amazing synergy of tastes.  The toasted French Loaf used in this recipe creates a floating layer of crunch between the amazingly flavorful broth and delicious top layer of melted Gruyere cheese layer.