Friday 24 February 2012

Recipe - French Onion Soup

French onion soup is such classic dish for me. I'm not sure how many times I've eaten it, be it a poor version or a very nice rendition from a decent restaurant.

Shockingly enough this is the first time I've ever tried making it myself. I took my normal approach and had a look both in my library of cookbooks and online. What I learned from this is that there's as many ways of making French onion soup as there are people cooking it. I also got some great tips and advice from people like kingpieb on Twitter.

In the end I took bits and pieces from various sources and freestyled it to something I thought would work. Luckily it did. The key to a good result is most likely to let it take its time. Don't stress the onions, just let them cook together in their own time.

It's a simple recipe, that gives a very rewarding result for fairly little work, so I'll stop jabbering now and let you have a look at how I made this.

Ingredients (makes about 4 big portions)
Olive oil
About 1 kg onions, peeled and thinly sliced
About 2 tbsp of Brandy (optional)
500 ml wine
A couple of sprigs of thyme
1l beef stock
Sherry Vinegar (optional)

Baguette, cut into slices
Gruyere cheese, grated

Heat a large (I used a stock pot) pot on a medium heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the ppt. Once the olive oil is warm, chuck in the onions and season well.

Let the onions slowly sweat whilst stirring fairly regularly. You want them to go all gooey and sticky without taking too much colour. Be prepared that they'll release more than a fair amount of liquid as you go ahead.

Once they are getting to that nice and gooey stage you can pour in some Brandy if you feel like it. If not, don't. If you did feel like it, let the brandy cook off whilst you keep stirring the onions.

At this stage, pour in the wine and raise the temperature under the pot. Let the wine boil away almost completely as you keep stirring the onions.

Once the wine have more or less evaporated add in the stock and the thyme. Lower the heat and let this slowly simmer for 50 minutes or so.

While it simmers, taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed. If you feel like it and you think the soup needs it, add a splash or two of Sherry Vinegar.

Ladle the soup into bowls, top with a slice of bread and a good helping of grated gruyere. Pop the soup bowls under a pre-heated grill and let the cheese melt and turn a nice brown colour.



  1. Looks really good, I've never put booze in my French Onion Soup, but I will definitely try this next time I make it. I'm not sure I can forgive you for even suggesting that one might put vinegar in though!! I find Emmental works on the top as well.

  2. Hi Nicole,

    Let me know how it works out with a bit of Brandy (or other booze you might try).

    It was a bit on the sweet side for my taste so I splashed in some Sherry Vinegar and that actually gave me precisely the flavour I was after. But I'll try to be a bit more reverential to the classic recipes in future. :)

    I can see that working really well, adding a slightly nutty flavour to it all.

    Many thanks for taking the time to add a comment, it is really appreciated.

    Cheers, Mike

  3. Mike, sounds good! Of course, it all depends on the quality of the beef stock. I'm all for adding a splash of brandy--I splash a lot of brandy around my kitchen! Very versatile stuff, brandy. That photo makes me want to grab a spoon and dig in.

    1. Jean,

      Many thanks for taking the time to post a comment and for the kind words about the photo.

      I totally agree about the need for quality stock, you can't cook well without good quality ingredients.

      // Mike

  4. Love French Onion soup, I have a large wedge of Jarslberg to use up...might try that

    1. Hi Ren,

      Thanks for taking the time to post a comment!

      You know what I'm going to say about the Jarlsberg. Freestyle it - there's only one way to find out if it works or not. :)

      Please let me know how it turns out.

      // Mike

  5. Perfect piece of work you’ve got done, this website is actually cool with superb details on delicious foods.


Please leave a comment. Positive or negative - all comments are welcome and useful. I do enjoy hearing what you think of my posts, what is good and what needs improving so please post away.

// Mike