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Classic French Onion Soup

Scott Phillips

Servings: 6-8

This ultimate version of the bistro classic is made with homemade beef broth and caramelized onions. Aged Gruyère is key to getting the traditional bubbling crust of cheese; it’s rich, smooth, and melts easily.

Watch a video for step-by-step instructions on how to make this soup and view the slideshow for more classic soup recipes.


  • 2 oz. (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, more for the baking sheet
  • 4 medium-large yellow onions (about 2 lb.), thinly sliced (8 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 small baguette (1/2 lb.), cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 quarts Roasted Beef Broth or lower-salt canned beef or chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups grated Gruyère


  • Melt the butter in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Stir in the onions and season with 1 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Reduce the heat to low. Press a piece of foil onto the onions to cover them completely, cover the pot with a lid, and cook, stirring occasionally (you will have to lift the foil), until the onions are very soft but not falling apart, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the lid and foil, raise the heat to medium high, and stir in the sugar. Cook, stirring often, until very deeply browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, to make the croûtes (baguette toasts), position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a rimmed baking sheet and arrange the baguette slices on the sheet in a single layer. Bake until the bread is crisp and lightly browned, turning once, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
  • Add the broth and bay leaf to the caramelized onions and bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Discard the bay leaf and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • To serve, position a rack 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler to high. Put 6 to 8 broilerproof soup bowls or crocks on a baking sheet. Put 2 or 3 croûtes in each bowl and ladle the hot soup on top. Sprinkle  with the cheese and broil until the top is browned and bubbly, 2 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Make Ahead Tips

The soup and croûtes can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store the soup in the refrigerator and the croûtes in an airtight container at room temperature.

Start with a Mixed Green Salad with Red-Wine & Dijon Vinaigrette and serve another French classic, Dorie Greenspan’s Tarte Tatin, for dessert.


Rate or Review


  • fivekitten | 12/14/2014

    I've made this a few times now and each time it turns out wonderful. Great easy classic basic french onion soup recipe. It's the base recipe you can tweak how you like, but perfect just as it is. I did keep the onions on longer the second and third time, and it had a richer taste. I just use a lid and skip the foil part, and use box beef broth and mozzarella cheese to make it an easy dinner. It's now a regular part of the family menu because everyone loves it and it's the only thing I don't burn. :)

  • theprettygeek | 11/26/2014

    Came out perfect!!! My boyfriend is a fan of french onion and he raved about this. I followed the recipe exactly, and we think this is the best french onion we've ever had. No changes necessary. Soup recipe is really easy and it's ultra rich in taste.

  • richsadis | 01/14/2014

    This is not a very good recipe for such a classic soup. missing a lot of seasoning as well as red wineto give more body

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