Memories of French Onion Soup Past
I tasted my first real French Onion Soup at Cafe Figaro on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood as a teen. My friends and I thought Cafe Figaro with its French bistro-style cuisine was so cool. It had a good menu, reasonable prices and a European atmosphere. Taking a date here helped gave me an air of sophistication. Or at least I thought.
I must have tried French Onion Soup before hanging out at Cafe Figaro with my friends, yet do not have any earlier memory. Unfortunately Cafe Figaro disappeared almost 20 years ago. Its French Onion Soup, however, remains fresh in my mind.
Over the years I have tasted many other versions of French Onion Soup. At my wedding we served some soup to our guests after midnight, as is tradition during a winter party that continues into the wee hours of the night. My Belgian brother-in-law Thierry prepared French Onion Soup on many Christmas Eves and at family parties.
When I started making my own French Onion Soup about ten years ago I was surprised how easy it is to make a tasty traditional version of this renown French soup. I have since enjoyed making it a couple times every winter for my kids and friends. My children absolutely love this recipe!
Discover how easy it really is to make this French Onion Soup for your special guests. It will bring comfort to you all.
How To Make a Full Flavor French Onion Soup
There are many versions of French Onion Soup. Some prepare it with a beef broth, others with a chicken broth. Most add toast with cheese on top before serving it. French Onion Soup can be made in the oven or on the stove. I have tried several ways and have found this recipe to be the most stream-lined version while retaining the soup’s full flavor.
The French Onion Soup recipe in Nigel Slater’s wonderful cookbook The Kitchen Diaries inspired this recipe. I love this cookbook as it provides a glimpse into Nigel Slater’s daily cooking and gardening activities during an entire year. I often look at this book to get ideas for seasonal dishes to prepare.
In my recipe I use olive oil to cook the onions, add some thyme and omit the toast on top of the soup. By preparing the soup in a Dutch oven on the stove, the time needed to cook the onions is reduced significantly. If you have time, let the onions cook slowly so their flavor develops a bit more.
You can prepare this French Onion Soup in less than 45 minutes if you like. Most of this time you are waiting for the soup to cook and can be busy taking care of other things.
Enjoy making this French Onion Soup for your friends and family. They will certainly be pleased! Remember to leave your comments to share your experience with other readers.
French Onion Soup in 45 Minutes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 onions large (see notes)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp thyme dried
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 100 ml white wine
- 1 1/4 l chicken broth (or beef broth if you prefer) (see notes)
- 200 g Gruyère cheese (or Emmental, Fontina, Parmesan, Asiago or any blend of these cheeses)
- Pour the olive oil into a Dutch oven or casserole over a medium heat.
- Chop the onions into large pieces. Depending on the size of the onions, I usually cut them in eighths. Add them to the hot olive oil.
- After a few minutes, reduce the heat. Add the minced garlic and then let simmer another minute.
- Add the thyme, salt and pepper. Let the onions simmer covered until very soft and lightly brown. Stir from time to time to prevent the onions from sticking.
- Add the white wine and mix so it cleans the bottom of the casserole. Let the alcohol evaporate.
- Add the broth and continue to cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes. The broth should amply cover the onions. Add more broth, as needed, until you have the thickness that you like. This recipe will give you a thicker consistency.
- Put the grated cheese in a bowl and let everyone add it to their soup. Adding the cheese separately allows each person to take the amount they like. It's also better so that the cheese is not in the casserole when you want to reheat any leftovers the next day.
- Serve the soup and enjoy. You can serve with warm bread if you like.
- You can use yellow or red onions, or a combination of both. I even sometimes add shallots as well. Red onions give a bit more flavor and are good with beef broth. If you use red onions and beef broth, you might even substitute red wine for the white wine.
- I find that chicken broth allows the flavor of the onions to stand out more. It also gives a lighter result. Beef broth makes the soup a bit more hearty. If you are looking for a vegetarian version, use vegetable broth without any regret.
- Gruyère cheese is traditionally added to French onion soup. However, feel free to add a mixture of cheese that have give a distinct taste and melt well, such as Fontina, Asiago, Parmesan and Emmental.