French onion soup is the ultimate comfort food that’s surprisingly simple to make, even if you’re not a whiz in the kitchen! Imagine the sweet aroma of onions caramelizing on the stove, blending perfectly with the savory depth of beef broth, all topped off with a gooey, cheesy slice of toasted bread. It’s the kind of meal that tastes like you spent all day over the stove, yet it’s quick and easy enough to pull together on a weeknight. Whether you’re feeding a crowd or just looking to cozy up with a comforting bowl of deliciousness, this soup has got you covered.

If you love soup, you’ve got to try our tomato basil soup and sweet potato soup! You won’t be disappointed!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Easy to prepare with straightforward ingredients and steps.
  • The caramelized onions create a deep, rich flavor that’s hard to resist.
  • Perfect for a casual family dinner or a dinner party.
A soon pulling away some melted cheese on top of a bowl of French onion soup.

French Onion Soup Recipe

History Lesson: In 18th century France, basic onion soup was especially prevalent in poor communities, where onions were cheap and in abundance. Restaurants dressed up that basic onion soup by adding cheese and then placing the bowls under the broiler, broadening its appeal to the well off communities in Paris and creating the classic French onion soup we know today.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Overhead view of a kitchen counter with yellow onions, beef broth, cheeses, sliced bread, garlic, oil, and fresh herbs.
  • Olive oil and butter: Used for sautéing the onions, they add richness. Substitute with a plant-based butter substitute or your preferred cooking oil if desired.
  • Yellow onions: The star of the show, caramelized to sweetness. You can use white or red onions if you prefer, though yellow onions are traditionally used.
  • Beef broth: Provides the savory base of the soup. Chicken or vegetable broth can be used for a lighter taste or vegetarian option.
  • Dry sherry: Adds depth; can be omitted or replaced with a dry white wine or additional broth.
  • Thyme, salt, and black pepper: Seasonings that enhance the overall flavor. Feel free to adjust according to taste.
  • French bread and cheeses (Gruyere, Provolone, Parmesan): Create the iconic cheesy, crispy topping. You can substitute with any crusty bread or cheese as needed.

Using substitutions may affect final taste and texture.

A collage of seven images showing the process of how to make French onion soup from start to finish.

Bread Options

The choice of bread can transform your French onion soup from good to great! While traditional recipes call for a French baguette, the key is to use a bread that offers a sturdy base for the rich, brothy soup and a generous layer of melted cheese. Here are some excellent options:

  • French Baguette: The classic choice, providing a crisp crust and a soft interior that soaks up the broth beautifully without becoming too soggy.
  • Sourdough: For a tangy twist, sourdough brings a delightful flavor contrast to the sweetness of the caramelized onions.
  • Ciabatta: Its open crumb structure is perfect for capturing the soup’s essence, and its sturdy crust holds up well under the broiler.

No matter which bread you choose, aim for slices about 1 inch thick, and toast them until they’re just golden for the best experience. This ensures a delightful crunch that complements the soup’s rich flavors and cheese topping.

French Onion Soup Bowls

A broiler-safe, deep bowl is the name of the game with French onion soup. If you’ve never used your soup bowls under the broiler and they don’t say oven/broiler safe, you will need to use different bowls. We’re a big fan of the traditional soup crocks or large ramekins.

If you do not have oven-safe bowls, you can simply put your cheeses onto your toasted French bread slices and melt under the broiler to make little cheesy toasts. When your soup is ready to serve, ladle soup into regular soup bowls and top with the cheesy toasts. 


  • Onions not caramelizing? Increase heat slightly, ensuring you stir frequently to prevent burning.
  • Cheese not melting properly? Broil for an extra minute, but watch closely to avoid burning.

Tips From the Chef

  • Use a heavy-bottomed pot to evenly caramelize the onions.
  • Taste as you go, especially before adding the final seasonings.
  • To get a rich flavor, don’t rush the caramelization of the onions.
French onion soup in a small white bowl.

When is French onion soup ready?

  • Color: Look for a deep, golden brown in the caramelized onions.
  • Texture: The soup should be rich and the onions tender.
  • Cheese: It should be melted and slightly browned on top.

Make-Ahead Instructions

You can prepare your soup earlier in the day or the night before and refrigerate. When you are getting ready to serve, reheat it on the stovetop and then proceed with toasting your bread and adding the cheese and broiling.

Storage & Reheating Instructions


  • Allow the soup to cool to room temperature before storing.
  • Store the soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Store the toasted bread separately in a bread box or an airtight container at room temperature to maintain its crispness.


  • Reheat the soup gently on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until hot.
  • If the soup has thickened in the fridge, you may add a little water or broth to adjust consistency.
  • Toast or reheat bread separately under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until warm and crispy.

Freezer Instructions:

  • French onion soup freezes well without the bread and cheese topping.
  • Cool the soup completely and transfer it to freezer-safe containers or bags.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or reheat directly from frozen, adding a little extra broth if needed to adjust the consistency.

Reheating from Frozen:

  • Reheat frozen soup on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add broth as needed.
  • Prepare fresh bread and cheese toppings as directed for serving.

More Amazing soup recipes

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

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