French Onion Soup Recipe
Tonight I’m headed to a “Soups and Stews” party – a sort of soup potluck party co-hosted by several of my friends.
In an effort to avoid doubling up on soup, I decided to bring caramelized French onion soup. Unique for a get-together like this, but not too out-of-the-box.
This May Be The Best French Onion Soup You Ever Try
This take on French onion soup is a little different than most. Here’s why:
- Cheese toasts: Instead of covering the bowl with cheese and baking it, a piece of cheese-topped crostini is placed right in the bowl. This is a practical alternative to baking individual bowls in the oven.
- Caramelized onions and roasted garlic: Taking extra time to caramelize onions and roast garlic is worth it. This soup is full of flavor in every spoonful.
- White wine: Another flavor enhancer? White wine. Trust me.
What Kind Of Cheese Should I Use?
Gruyere cheese is one of the best-melting cheeses, perfect for topping French onion soup. However, it’s also very expensive.
Try substituting a cheaper cheese such as Fontina, Gouda, Parmesan, smoked mozzarella, or a combination of any of these. I found a Swiss/Gruyere mix at Trader Joe’s for about $5.00 and only used about 1/4 of the bag.
How to Caramelize Onions
When onions are cooked low and slow, they brown, soften, and their natural sugars are released. The result is sweet, buttery, and decadent caramelized onions. It makes the best caramelized French onion soup ever.
Caramelizing onions is a great way to make a flavor impact without spending a lot of money. While the process of caramelizing onions isn’t hard, it takes a long time – about an hour between chopping and cooking the onions.
Below are basic instructions for caramelizing onions:
- Start out by cutting off the ends and removing the outer layer of the onions. It doesn’t matter how you cut the onions. For this recipe, I used a food processor which yielded small and uniform slices. However, you can chop the onions into small pieces or slice them into rings.
- Place chopped onions in a heavy-duty frying pan. Place about one tablespoon of butter per two onions into the frying pan. Turn on heat to medium-low. Stir onions every couple of minutes for the first 10 minutes or so.
- After about 10 minutes, add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar to the pan and stir. The onions should soon start browning. Once the bottom layer of onions starts browning, stir again. Continue heating and keep stirring onions until the entire batch of onions is brown. This should take another 20 to 30 minutes. If the onions start to burn, turn down the heat. You can add a little water to the pan to prevent burning and sticking.
- After about 40 minutes total, the onions should be a uniform, dark brown color. Add a bit of water, white wine, or balsamic vinegar to the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Some of the best flavor is concentrated in the bottom bits of the pan!
Caramelized onions freeze very well – consider making extra for later use on pizza, sandwiches, or make a caramelized onion dip.
How to Roast Garlic
- Cut the very top portion of a garlic bulb off, so the tops of the individual garlic cloves are exposed.
- Place the garlic bulb in a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the exposed garlic cloves. Wrap the garlic bulb in foil.
- Place in a 400F oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Squeeze garlic out of individual bulbs. It will have the consistency of a paste.
Love soup that’s full of onions? Try this slow-cooker pork and lager stew.
For caramelized onions
- 4 to 5 small yellow onions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of sugar
For cheese crostini
- 1 small French baguette
- Olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup shredded cheese (see cheese recommendations, above)
For French onion soup
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 bulb roasted garlic (see above for directions)
- 32-ounce container beef broth (or for a cheaper option, use bouillon cubes)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
- Caramelized onions
- Additional salt and garlic powder, to taste
- Caramelize onions and roast garlic (see instructions above).
- To make crostini: Preheat oven to 400F. Cut baguette into 1/2-inch slices. Brush each side with olive oil. Place on a large baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes, or until bread is toasted. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Cut a large garlic clove in half and rub on the toasted bread. Top each slice with a heaping tablespoon of shredded cheese and return to oven. Bake for additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- To make French onion soup: Heat butter and roasted garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 2 minutes to infuse flavors. Add beef broth and heat to a simmer. Add wine, sugar, and caramelized onions and stir. Season with salt and garlic powder if desired.
- To serve, top each bowl of French onion soup with a cheese crostini.