Soup’s On: Classic French Onion Soup

My husband LOVES French onion soup. Like seriously LOVES. So what did I do for our 20th anniversary AND to celebrate his birthday this month? I made it of course!

To make a proper French onion soup it takes time. A lot of time. But it is so worth it. And your kitchen will smell amazing while you’re waiting! Don’t rush the onions, let them cook low and slow for as long as you can until they are silky and carmel-y. The sugars in the onions will make them super sweet and mellow and that’s crucial to the final soup.

Classic French Onion Soup
Serves 4, Cook time 2 hours

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large sweet onions, peeled and sliced into half moons
2 large white onions, peeled and sliced into half moons
2 bay leaves
4 thyme sprigs (I usually add a couple more because I love thyme)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup white wine
4 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 cup water
Pinch of sugar
1 loaf French bread, cut into cubes
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded

In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until starting to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, bay leaves, and salt. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and cook for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. The goal is for the onions to get super soft and start to turn caramel colored (not burnt).

Remove the lid and turn heat back up to medium. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated and you start to see some brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Stir occasionally so the onions don’t burn. This could take anywhere from 10-30 minutes depending on how juicy your onions are.

Deglaze pan with wine and scrape up all the brown bits. Cook until wine evaporates. Add beef stock and water to pan. Bring pot to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer – partially covered – for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and thyme stems. Adjust seasoning with salt and/or a pinch of sugar if you prefer. Ladle into 4 oven safe crocks or soup bowls and place on a rimmed sheet tray.

While soup is simmering, prepare croutons. Heat oven to 350°. Toss cubed French bread with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer and bake until golden – about 5 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Top each crock with a handful of croutons (really however many you like, store any remaining in a Ziploc bag) and ½ cup of shredded gruyere cheese. Broil for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Keep an eye on it to make sure the cheese doesn’t burn. Carefully remove from oven, it will be super hot at this point, and serve.

Source: Ruth’s Table, 2022.

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