HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

Need your best french onion soup recipe!

  • f
  • fara Sep 9, 2008 08:01 PM
  • 22
  • Share

My husband's coming home from deployment, and his favorite soup is french onion. How do I make a really good one? What are your scratch and semi-scratch recipes? tia.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. I've heard good things about Julia Child's version in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but it's time consuming. There are two versions from Cook's Illustrated that are decent but supposedly don't compare.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rockfish42

      I second Julia Child recipe. Onion are sweated and carmelized. Beef broth is added with wine.

      1. re: classylady

        I like her recipe, as well as the Balthazar one:

        http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22901648/

    2. Here is how I do it.. Boil five lbs of beef bones in water for three minutes. Pour off
      water and ick that rises to top wash bones in sink. Put back in pot with three quarts
      of water. Blacken an onion on a burner on all sides. put in pot. Blacken a piece of
      ginger same way. I do this on my grill but if you don't have one do it on a burner. add
      one teaspoon of sugar. No salt yet. Boil all of this for five hours as low as you can
      get the burner to go or if you have a pressure cooker cook for an hour and a half.
      While doing this saute a large chopped onion in butter for an hour again at a heat
      as low as you can get it. Don't worry if you get a few very dark pieces it won't hurt.
      Strain broth, add caramelized onions to broth, salt. Toast a piece of bread. Place
      broth and onions in a bowl. float bread on top of broth. Grate lots of Parmesan
      cheese on top of bread. Broil in broiler until cheese is nice and brown or put it in
      a very hot oven till ready. Oui la la
      Upon review, I forgot to tell you to add black pepper. Add it when you add the caramelized onions to the broth.
      By the way, Julia browns the bones, I don't
      good luck, Paul

      1. Some good recipes and good ideas on this thread:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4236...

        1. FOS is a winter standard in our house with a salad and good bread, as it freezes very well. I make my own beef stock using 5 lbs. beef shin, 3 ribs of chopped celery, 3-4 chopped large carrots, 2 large onions chopped, bouquet garni of bay leaf, parsley, leek and carrot tied with string. Brown all vegetables & beef in hot oven (400) in greased roasting pan for 30-40 min stirring well so everything browns. Slip browned items into 8 gal stock pot, add 8 qts cold water, 28 oz can good quality chopped tomatoes, s&p, 2 bay leaves. Simmer uncovered skimming off scum as it acculates for about 1-2 hours. Simmer additional 4-5 hours. Let pot cool, strain well of bones, bay leaves. Use immersion blender to blend solids. Soup can be put into freezealble containers and frozen in advance.

          To assemble soup: saute 3 very large onions cut into rings in wide frying pan using 1/2 stick butter on low flame for 20-25 minutes until carmelized and brown. S&p to taste. Some people sprinkly 1-2 tsp sugar to speed carmelization, I don't do this. This step is very important, if you don't have the time to bring the onion to this point, the soup won't taste as good as it should.

          While onions are carmelizing and sauteeing, slice a loaf of French bread or other good, artisanal rustic bread in to 1/2 in slices. Toast in 375 oven on baking sheet turning several times. Set aside.

          Grate 8 oz cheese. I like a combination of Fontina, romano, and Jarlsberg cheese.

          To assemble: heat soup to very, very hot, adding onions and 2-3 T finely chopped parsley. In onion soup crocks, ladle in soup about 3/4 full, add toasted bread, cover with combination of cheese. Place on baking sheet (this should make 4-6 crocks). Heat in 425 preheated oven for 10 minutes, checking to make sure they don't burn.

          Soup freezes very well. You can also freeze carmelized onions. These can be made in advance and toasted bread and cheeses to be added at the last minute. Enjoy!

          1. Ah, traditional French comfort food on return from deployment - great idea. I love FOS, and I think it a shame that it has become unfashionable.

            My soup is similar to Diane's except that I don't use tomatoes. During the sauteing of the onions, I add salt, pepper, and some chopped fresh rosemary (my preference, but thyme would be a very good option). I deglaze with a bit of wine (white, usually, though I've used red). When they're fully caramelised, I add the beef broth. In the individual bowls, I put a slice of grilled onion in the bottom. I find the contrast of flavour and texture with the sweet, 'slimey' caramelised onions adds complexity to the soup. I toast the bread before putting it on the top. My cheese preference is gruyere. For wine, I find that something refreshing that can deal with some sweetness, like riesling, is best.

            Ooh, la la, indeed.

            1. I love the French Onion Soup from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home. It is Jacques' recipe and doesn't use beef stock and yet is so very rich and delicious. Unfortunately, my cooking books are packed up right now while I am painting the kitchen so it isn't possible for me to give you a synopsis.

              1. I love the Julia Child recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking and when I make it, people say it is the best they have had. Two tips, use homemade beef stock if you can. Also, if you use the slicing blade of a food processor it makes slicing the onions much easier. It does take some time to make, but on a cold day, it is worth it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cassoulady

                  Yes - this is one of the few times that I haul out the food processor to slice something.

                2. The best I've ever had: http://www.chow.com/recipes/10006

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jencounter

                    I do it just like this except for one big change- I buy the stock. I'm not ashamed. I have never made my own stock-the closest I get is when I make gravy on Thanksgiving. Is that even stock? Well, I do make my Sunday gravy with lots of meat bones- is that closer? (ha!)
                    Anyway- this kind of soup is so very wonderful even with my wimpy cheater stock. When I buy the Gruyere from the Publix deli here in FL they have to go get one from the back- one is NEVER in use.

                  2. Don't have a specific recipe but wife's grandfather insisted that using beef AND chicken stock is key. I think we usually use 3:1 beef to chicken (Usually 3qts beef stock and 1 qt chicken stock). I'm also partial to sherry as the wine component.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jzerocsk

                      I agree that a combination of beef and chicken stock is really good. I like my onion soup as rich as I can get it, and thought that all beef would be best, but after seeing America's Test Kitchen conclude that the mix of the two is best, I tried it. Have since been using a combination like jzerocsk says of about 3:1 beef to chicken. I much prefer it.
                      I also use a splash of brandy to finish it, rather than sherry.

                    2. I try to make mine a bit less fattening and this recipe came out of the Junior League of Seattle cookbook, Celebrate the Rain. I have made it many times, it freezes great. I use the cheater way of caramelizing the onions.

                      5 pounds onions, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
                      1/2 cup unsalted butter (I use less)
                      2 tsp salt

                      Put the butter in a 4 quart or larger slow cooker insert. Separate the onion slices into rings and add them to the slow cooker, lightly packing them down. Sprinkle the salt over and cover with the lid (the cooker will be quite full). Cook on high until the onions are very soft and a deep caramel color, about 10-12 hours, stirring once or twice. j Can be make a day in advance and freezes well.

                      I do this before I go to bed the night before and if I wake up during the night I give them a stir. I usually wake up going "what is that smell?", oh yeah, onions!

                      Then when your ready to make your soup:

                      5 cans (14 oz) beef broth or homemade stock
                      3 cups apple cider or apple juice
                      2 bay leaves
                      6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
                      2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
                      salt
                      4 TB unsalted butter
                      3 pounds sweet onions, thinly sliced (I use all of the onions I did in the crock pot as we like LOTS of onions in the soup), and caramelized.

                      Add caramelized onions and sherry to the broth. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs and taste the soup for seasoning, adding more salt to taste. (At this point, we like to add a couple of spoonfuls of tomato paste. We find it adds a little acidity and cuts down the sweetness, plus has a little thickening effect).

                      Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into ovenproof bowls, top with a slice of baguette, sprinkle with Parmesan and top with 1 or 2 slices of Gruyere. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 1 to 2 minutes.
                      1 tsp sugar
                      2/3 cup dry sherry
                      8 baguette slices
                      1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
                      Sliced Gruyere cheese

                      Combine the beef broth, apple cider, bay leaves, thyme, pepper, and a good pinch of salt in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

                      I try to make mine a bit less fattening and this recipe came out of the Junior League of Seattle cookbook, Celebrate the Rain. I have made it many times, it freezes great. I use the cheater way of caramelizing the onions.

                      5 pounds onions, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
                      1/2 cup unsalted butter (I use less)
                      2 tsp salt

                      Put the butter in a 4 quart or larger slow cooker insert. Separate the onion slices into rings and add them to the slow cooker, lightly packing them down. Sprinkle the salt over and cover with the lid (the cooker will be quite full). Cook on high until the onions are very soft and a deep caramel color, about 10-12 hours, stirring once or twice. j Can be make a day in advance and freezes well.

                      I do this before I go to bed the night before and if I wake up during the night I give them a stir. I usually wake up going "what is that smell?", oh yeah, onions!

                      Then when your ready to make your soup:

                      5 cans (14 oz) beef broth or homemade stock
                      3 cups apple cider or apple juice
                      2 bay leaves
                      6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
                      2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
                      salt
                      4 TB unsalted butter
                      3 pounds sweet onions, thinly sliced (I use all of the onions I did in the crock pot as we like LOTS of onions in the soup), and caramelized.

                      I try to make mine a bit less fattening and this recipe came out of the Junior League of Seattle cookbook, Celebrate the Rain. I have made it many times, it freezes great. I use the cheater way of caramelizing the onions.

                      5 pounds onions, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices
                      1/2 cup unsalted butter (I use less)
                      2 tsp salt

                      Put the butter in a 4 quart or larger slow cooker insert. Separate the onion slices into rings and add them to the slow cooker, lightly packing them down. Sprinkle the salt over and cover with the lid (the cooker will be quite full). Cook on high until the onions are very soft and a deep caramel color, about 10-12 hours, stirring once or twice. j Can be make a day in advance and freezes well.

                      I do this before I go to bed the night before and if I wake up during the night I give them a stir. I usually wake up going "what is that smell?", oh yeah, onions!

                      Then when your ready to make your soup:

                      5 cans (14 oz) beef broth or homemade stock
                      3 cups apple cider or apple juice
                      2 bay leaves
                      6 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
                      2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
                      salt
                      4 TB unsalted butter
                      3 pounds sweet onions, thinly sliced (I use all of the onions I did in the crock pot as we like LOTS of onions in the soup), and caramelized.

                      Combine the beef broth, apple cider, bay leaves, thyme, pepper, and a good pinch of salt in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered for about 1 hour.

                      Add caramelized onions and sherry to the broth. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs and taste the soup for seasoning, adding more salt to taste. (At this point, we like to add a couple of spoonfuls of tomato paste. We find it adds a little acidity and cuts down the sweetness, plus has a little thickening effect).

                      Preheat the broiler. Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls, top with a slice of baguette, sprinkle with Parmesan and top with 1 or 2 slices of Gruyere. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 1 to 2 minutes.

                      I just remembered I have some in the freezer! Think I will pull it out!

                      1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/369903

                        There's always this topic that references the amazing Keller french onion soup. It's a pain at 5 hrs, but if you can find the time, it's a wonderful recipe.

                        1. So glad to hear your husband is on his way home! He deserves pampering.

                          This has become my go-to onion soup recipe. It's really thick, almost like a pudding, but so easy and so sinful!

                          http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/11/mag...

                          1. There is no recipe. There is a procedure. Grab a bunch of onions half red half white (two medium sized per person should work) and drop them in a pan with some butter (not margarine) and brown them on medium medium high. It will take a few hours to caramelize but it is worth it. I have to warn you though. The amount of onions will fill the pot TO THE TOP and the out-gassing is quite horrid but after a few minutes (preferably with the exhaust fan on) the onions will shrink down a lot and stop smelling anything but tasty.

                            After they have caramelized add beef broth/consume (its better with homemade) add salt, pepper and spices to taste. I use some thyme and parsley and never measure; just drop it in. Simmer that for about an hour for the flavors to mingle.

                            In the mean time get a loaf of french bread and slice it then toast the slices in butter (not margarine) and garlic in a pan and drop in a ramekin or other oven safe dish. When the bread is done and the soup has been simmering for a while pour the soup in the bowls over the bread and then grate a good melting cheese on top (Mozzarella, Swiss and Gruyere work great). Once cheesed turn your oven on broil and put the dishes in the oven till the cheese melts and starts to bubble.

                            Serve and enjoy

                            1. It occurred to me late last night that I had forgotten to add this to my reply.

                              I think that this will render the soup unfreezable, because of the milk solids, BUT....

                              When I was making a small batch (4- 6 servings) this past winter, after the stock had been added to the onions and simmered gently for a while together, I added a couple of gorgonzola rinds I had saved for that purpose. After ca. 45 minutes I fished the rinds out with a strainer. They added a nice, rich tone to the soup (as it it needed it!) You could easily use parmigiano rinds if you're charry of blue cheeses.

                              1. Bouchon cookbook by Thomas Keller. THE BEST> You cook the onions for HOURS. Delicious. I'll see if I can find a link for you....

                                1. I make it easy. 3 jumbo onions sliced up thrown into a crockpot with a stick of butter on low overnight. In the morning, I add beef stock to fill up the pot, and then add Worcestershire sauce and black pepper to taste.

                                  I serve it over french bread with melted cheese on top.

                                  Yum.

                                  Oh, and welcome home to your husband! :)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: tzurriz

                                    Because my broiler is on the bottom of my oven, I also melt a lot of cheese on top of the bread to add to the soup. I do also put some grated cheese in the bottom of the bowl before adding the soup.