French Onion Soup – a traditional recipe.

I love this time of year. Our temperatures have dropped slightly.  The sun is not as intense.  The mornings are cooler as well as our evenings.

French Onion Soup

Soup is just calling my name this time of the year, and onion soup makes it to the top of my favorite soups. Warm, savory, easy, and flavorful, made with beef stock, wine, and loads of onions.

And, do not forget, topped with loads of cheese over French baguette slices. Heavenly!

In this Article

My version of the French onion soup recipe

It is very rich and sustaining due to the oxtail, the toasted bread, and loads of cheese that accompany it. I added the oxtail to give the store-bought broth a richer flavor.

Another significant component for the success of this onion soup is slicing your onions very thinly versus in chunks. They will caramelize better.

Caramelize the onions with care, and do not rush this step. You want your onions to release their natural juices, and cook the onions evenly and gently.

I love to mix two kinds of onions:  yellow and sweet Vidalia. Not fond of the pungent white. However, it is my choice.

I also used red onions, and the only suggestion is to taste you will have to season with a bit more salt as the onions are sweeter when cooking.

French Onion Soup

What makes it a French Onion Soup?

This beautiful soup originated in France in the 18th century, and it is not just a soup but a way of life. Throughout history, it was seen as humble food for the peasant, as onions grew quickly and plentifully, and broth was made.

French onion soup differentiates from its English counterpart, as it always calls for beef stock or broth.

The English soup is readily made with beef, chicken, vegetable stock, or broth.

However, both versions will incorporate fresh herbs. Thyme and bay leaf for the French. Sage for the English.

White wine is used in the original version. I used red rich body red wine, Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon.

French Onion Soup

Why Oxtail?

I added oxtails that my butcher chopped up into 2-inch pieces to make my soup richer and with a deeper flavor.

My choice, but the flavor was undeniably richer and more profound.

You can either enjoy the meat of the oxtails, exceptionally rich in flavor, or I must admit I shredded some of the meat at the end of cooking and added it to the soup.

Oxtail is the tail of beef that requires lengthy and slow braising to release its rich flavor. Not pretty to look at. It makes a great addition to the beef broth.

Use the smaller parts or end pieces that cook alongside the onions for this soup.

Once shredded and the thick membrane removed, the saved oxtail will work beautifully in a tomato sauce, omelet, or quesadilla. Nothing will go to waste.

French Onion Soup

Cooking tips and step-by-step instructions to create this excellent Onion Soup

  • Use a mandoline or a food processor with a thin slicing disk to slice your onions. You want all your slices to be the same thickness to ensure proper and evenly cooked.
  • Caramelized onions will freeze well for up to three months. Make an extra batch to keep on hand so you can procure a quick pot of onion soup when the craving strikes.
  • I use a large heavy cast enamel pot that will hold all the liquid but also has a large stable base with a heavy lid. You do want even cook your onions as well as your soup and I always found it I achieve the best results on my Le Creuset.
  • I am a massive fan of using fresh herbs when on hand, it will do it more hommage to this soup.
  • Use a rich white wine if wanting to substitute.
  • Gruyere can be substituted by Emmenthal cheese. Grated is best of course.
  • Season with salt and pepper once done. You will find that it tends to be on the sweeter side.

How to finish and serve this easy French Onion Soup:

  • Place in a soup bowl that is ovenproof. Even though they will stay under the broiler for a very short time, you want to make sure you do not crack your dishes.
  • Use a croak bowl or onion soup bowl, which is rounder and taller with a small opening mouth.
  • Place the onion soup bowls on a baking sheet to accumulate any cheese spillover.
  • Broil until the cheese is melted and starts to be bubbly.
French Onion Soup

Some recipes will make you toast the baguette first. Some do not. I have tried both ways, and I like to toast my bread a little bit before placing it on top of the warm soup.

It will hold its consistency longer, allowing you to dig in the melted cheese.

Do not be shy to add as much cheese as you wish after all, who does not like melted cheese combined with onion soup, just divine.

Cognac is a must. It will give that extra rich, uplifting taste to this beautiful soup.

As you know, the alcohol will burn off while cooking, leaving a beautiful aftertaste.

I do love French onion soup.  Comfort food at its best in my book on a cold evening night.

If you enjoy this delicious recipe, look at my other recipes.

Tomato Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Bell Peppers Cream Soup

Vegetables Chicken Soup with Pasta

Equipment and ingredients used to prepare this recipe

Onion Soup – Traditional French

5 from 19 votes
French Onion Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4 people
It is very rich and sustaining due to the oxtail, the toasted bread, and loads of cheese that accompany it. I added the oxtail to give the store-bought broth a richer flavor.


  • 3 yellow onion, medium thinly sliced
  • 2 sweet vidalia onions, medium thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups beef stock
  • 1 pound oxtail
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 thyme, sprigs
  • 3 tablerspoons cognac
  • 4 French bread, slices
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 400º. Spread the rounds of baguette on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown. Set aside.
  • Heat the butter with the oil in a large saucepan until melted. Add the onions and cook gently over medium heat and occasionally stir. When the onions are completely soft and slightly light golden.
  • Add the sugar, pinch of salt and increase the heat to high. Cook for about 2 minutes until the onions caramelize slightly.
  • Stir in flour and cook for about 1 more minute until light brown. Pour in the beef stock, the oxtails, red wine, fresh thyme, add pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, partially cover and simmer for about 50 minutes.
  • Remove the oxtails and the thyme. Add the Cognac to the soup. Stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  • Turn on the broiler. Leave the door open while reaching the temperature.
  • Ladle the soup in 4 French onion soup terrines. Cover with the baguette and pile on the Gruyere cheese. Place the terrines on a cookie sheet.
  • Put the soup terrine under the broiler until the cheese melts.
  • Serve immediately.


Calories: 1865kcal | Carbohydrates: 253g | Protein: 100g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 184mg | Sodium: 2997mg | Potassium: 1492mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 580IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 616mg | Iron: 21mg

Giangi’s Kitchen provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as a registered dietician does not calculate them.

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French Onion Soup

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