You think you can only get good French onion soup in a steakhouse? This recipe will surpass your expectations! Better than any steakhouse onion soup!
I’m not going to lie. French onion soup has been an absolute no go for me. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than a bowl full of onions in broth. Oh the frailties of youth! What was I thinking? This soup is just heaven!
On a whim last year, I decided to start testing recipes because if low and slow works like a dream for meat, then it might just be delicious with onions too. Kind of like the onions in a good pot roast….yum!
And my goodness! Perfectly caramelized onions in a savory broth topped with a crusty piece of bread lathered in melty gooey cheese! I know, everything I just said is perfect. It’s almost too good to be true! Can you even trust me since it took me 36 years to realize this?!
What Ingredients are Needed for French Onion Soup?
These are all the ingredients you will need to make onion soup:
- Brown Sugar
- Walla Walla Onions
- Beef Broth
- Chicken Broth
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Bay Leaf
- Gruyere Cheese
- Parmesan Cheese
Scroll down to the recipe card for all the measurements.
How to Make Homemade Onion Soup
Making the best French onion soup takes time, patience and diligence. It takes some TLC to caramelize onions. Here are the basic steps:
- Preheat oven.
- Coat large dutch oven with cooking spray and add the butter, salt, garlic, brown sugar and then onions.
- Cook covered.
- Stir. Scrape browned bits from bottom of pan.
- Cook covered.
- Stir. Scrape browned bits from bottom of pan.
- Remove pot from oven and cook on stove top over medium high heat and bring to a boil.
- Add water slowly, deglazing continuously, and allowing the water to evaporate.
- Add Worcestershire and deglaze again.
- All the remaining ingredients are added, bring to a simmer.
- Lower temperature and simmer.
- Remove herbs and season with salt and pepper.
- Toast the slices of bread in the oven until crispy.
- Fill oven safe bowls with soup and place slice of toasted bread on top.
- Sprinkle with the cheeses.
- Broil until melted.
- Allow to rest for a few minutes and then dig in.
All the detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.
What Type of Onion Should be Used for Onion Soup?
If I’m being honest, the type of onions don’t matter as much as the caramelization being done correctly. We love onion soup with a nice sweet onion like a walla walla or vidalia onion.
If you want to go totally budget friendly, then yellow onions work great too. Even purple onions turn out well taste wise, but they become almost gray when they are caramelized, so not super appealing.
How to Caramelize Onions
Caramelizing onions is simple. All you need is some onions, a fat (either butter or oil), and pan and some time to let the onions do their magical thing. As onions cook, they release sugars that create that caramel color. They also create fond all over the bottom of the pan which is where all the flavor and color comes from.
Onions need to cook low and slow and to be stirred and deglazed regularly to release the fond from the bottom of the pan. As this process is repeated over and over, the onions caramelize and almost melt.
What is Fond?
While onions cook, they release sugars that stick to the bottom of the pan. It almost looks like the onions are burning, but not to worry! Those brown little bits will release easily with a little liquid (usually water, wine, broth or vinegar) and create so much beautiful flavor.
Can Onion Soup Be Made in the Crockpot?
Yes, you can definitely make this soup in the Crockpot. Combine all the ingredients up through the onions into the slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours (or until the onions are caramelized). Then add all the liquids and the thyme and bay leaf and cook in the slow cooker for another 2-3 hours on low. Place the soup into oven safe bowl and top with bread and cheese and broil until the cheese is melted.
Variations on French Onion Soup
- Gluten Free: Use gluten-free bread.
- Dairy Free: Use olive oil instead of butter and omit the cheese or use dairy free cheese.
- Vegetarian: Use vegetable stock and vegan Worcestershire.
- Vegan: Use olive oil instead of butter, vegetable stock, and vegan Worcestershire sauce and cheese.
What Kind of Cheese is Best for Onion Soup?
We are pretty much obsessed with gruyere cheese over here (see our Gruyere Sweet Potato Stacks), so we are all about the classic melted gruyere top for onion soup with a little parmesan added. We love the way the gruyere pairs with the beefy onion flavor.
Several other cheeses are good if you aren’t a gruyere fan. You can try fontina, provolone, swiss, or mozzarella or a combination of any of them.
Can Onion Soup Be Made Ahead of Time?
This soup is best made a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld and develop. It can be reheated on the stove top or in the Crockpot.
Is Onion Soup Healthy?
Onion soup is a good source of vitamin C and B6, iron, folate, and potassium. It is also a good anti-inflammatory.
Can You Freeze Onion Soup?
You can freeze onion soup without the bread and cheese on top for up to 3 months.
How Long Will Onion Soup Keep in the Refrigerator?
You can keep onion soup for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
What to Serve with French Onion Soup
If you’ve never tried it, you can trust me on this one…onion soup is totally heaven sent! Delicious sweet onions cooked low and slow until caramelized and then bathed in a flavorful savory broth. And just when you didn’t think it could any better, you top it with a piece of bread and gruyere cheese!
Check Out our Video on how to make onion soup
More SOUP RECIPES You’ll Love:
- Cheesy Southwestern Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
- Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Taco Soup
- Zuppa Toscana
- Beef Stew
- Egg Drop Soup
- Cauliflower Chowder
- All our SOUP RECIPES here!
Better Than Steakhouse Onion Soup
- 3 Tablespoon Butter, unsalted
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon Brown Sugar
- 6 Onions, Walla Wall Sweet, sliced in 1/4” pieces
- 2 Cups Water
- 2 1/2 Cups Beef Broth
- 4 Cups Chicken Broth
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 6 Sprigs Thyme, fresh
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 2 Cups Gruyere Cheese, shredded
- 1 Tablespoon Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
- Baguette, sliced
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees and coat a large dutch oven with nonstick spray inside the pot to help release the onions.
- Add the butter, salt, garlic, and brown sugar then top with the onions. Cook, 1 hour covered with the lid (use foil if you don’t have a lid), remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions being sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Place back in the oven and continue to cook until golden, another 1 1/2 hours, being sure to stir and scrape again after 1 hour.
- Remove the pot from the oven and place it over medium high heat on the stove top to bring your soup to a boil. With the lid off, continuously, slowly stir the onions until everything begins to brown and all liquids evaporate, about 6 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of water in 1/2 cup water increments, allowing the water to evaporate out each time. Continue deglazing the pot, adding a little water, this time 1/4 cup at a time until you've used another 3/4 and then a final 1/4 cup and deglazing until the onions are dark brown. Add in the Worcestershire and deglaze one final time.
- Add in the broths, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and salt. Increase the heat to high heat and bring everything to a simmer. Lower and cover the pot for 30-60 minutes. Remove all herbs, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oven to 400 and place the bread slices on the pan, then slide into the oven to pre-crisp the bread. Turn the oven to broil and place the rack up higher to the element while still leaving space for the soup bowls. Add soup to a bowl, top with bread and sprinkle with both cheese. Place under the broiler until melted and allow to rest outside the oven for 5 minutes then enjoy
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