Traditional French Onion Soup Recipe

Welcome to the delightful world of French cuisine, where flavors dance on your palate and transport you to the picturesque streets of Paris. Among the many culinary treasures the French have bestowed upon the world, one dish stands out for its comforting warmth and rustic charm: traditional French Onion Soup. A beloved staple in French households, this timeless recipe captures the essence of French cooking—simple yet elegant, rich yet delicate.

Imagine stepping into a quaint bistro on a chilly evening, enveloped in the intoxicating aroma of caramelized onions and savory beef broth. The enticing sight of golden brown croutons floating beneath a blanket of bubbling, melted cheese teases your taste buds. From the first spoonful, this classic dish wraps you in a cocoon of flavors, revealing the depth and complexity that can be achieved with just a handful of ingredients.

Dating back to ancient times, onion soup has evolved over centuries, finding its true home in French culinary traditions. While variations abound, the traditional French Onion Soup recipe remains a cherished gem, handed down through generations and cherished for its simplicity and timeless appeal. It showcases the French philosophy of transforming humble ingredients into something truly extraordinary.

In this article, we invite you on a culinary journey to discover the secrets behind crafting a magnificent bowl of traditional French Onion Soup. We’ll delve into the careful caramelization of onions, the art of selecting the perfect beef broth, and the crucial role of Gruyère cheese and crusty bread in achieving the soup’s signature indulgence. Along the way, we’ll share tips, tricks, and personal anecdotes that will help you recreate this beloved dish in your own kitchen.

What is Traditional French Onion Soup?

Traditional French Onion Soup, also known as “Soupe à l’oignon gratinée” in French, is a classic French dish that features caramelized onions in a rich, flavorful broth topped with toasted bread and melted cheese. It is a hearty and comforting soup that has been enjoyed in France for centuries.

Traditional French Onion Soup Recipe

Here’s a traditional recipe for French Onion Soup:


  • 4 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Baguette slices
  • Gruyere cheese, grated


  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until they caramelize and turn golden brown. This process can take about 30-40 minutes.
  2. Once the onions are caramelized, add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and garlic, and stir well to coat everything evenly. Cook for another minute to cook off the raw flour taste.
  4. Gradually pour in the beef broth and white wine, stirring constantly to combine. Add the bay leaf and thyme leaves to the pot. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  5. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. Stir occasionally.
  6. While the soup is simmering, preheat your oven’s broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet and toast them under the broiler until they turn golden brown. Set aside.
  7. Once the soup is ready, remove the bay leaf and taste for seasoning. Adjust the salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Ladle the soup into individual oven-safe bowls or crocks. Place a couple of toasted baguette slices on top of each bowl, and sprinkle a generous amount of grated Gruyere cheese over the bread.
  9. Place the bowls on a baking sheet and broil in the oven until the cheese melts and turns bubbly and golden brown.
  10. Carefully remove the bowls from the oven (they will be hot!) and allow them to cool slightly before serving. The soup will be piping hot, so be cautious when enjoying it.

Serve the traditional French Onion Soup hot, and enjoy its rich, savory flavors!

Note: Gruyere cheese is the traditional choice for this soup, but you can use other cheeses like Swiss or provolone if desired.

How Do You Make French Onion Soup Thicker?

If you find that your French onion soup is too thin and you’d like to make it thicker, there are a few methods you can try:

  1. Cook it longer: Simmer the soup for a longer period of time to allow the liquid to reduce and thicken naturally. This will intensify the flavors as well.
  2. Add a roux: A roux is a mixture of equal parts flour and fat (such as butter) that is used to thicken sauces and soups. In a separate pan, melt some butter and whisk in an equal amount of flour until it forms a smooth paste. Slowly add the roux to the soup, stirring continuously, and let it simmer for a few more minutes to thicken.
  3. Use cornstarch or arrowroot: Mix a tablespoon or two of cornstarch or arrowroot powder with a small amount of cold water to create a slurry. Stir the slurry into the soup and bring it to a gentle boil. The soup should start to thicken. Be careful not to add too much cornstarch or arrowroot, as it can make the soup overly thick and starchy.
  4. Incorporate bread crumbs: Tear a few slices of stale bread into small pieces and add them to the soup. As the bread soaks up the liquid, it will help thicken the soup. Make sure to stir occasionally to prevent the bread from clumping.

Remember to adjust the seasonings accordingly after thickening your soup, as the flavors may become more concentrated. Enjoy your homemade French onion soup with the desired thickness and richness!

Nutritional Facts

Here are the nutritional facts for a cup of traditional French onion soup:

  • Calories: 376
  • Total Fat: 19g
  • Saturated Fat: 8g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 35mg
  • Sodium: 641mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 31g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.8g
  • Sugars: 5g
  • Protein: 17g

Is Traditional French Onion Soup Healthy?

Traditional French onion soup is not considered to be a healthy soup. It is high in calories, fat, and sodium. A cup of traditional French onion soup contains about 376 calories, 19 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 641 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1.8 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of sugar.

The high calorie and fat content of traditional French onion soup is due to the ingredients used to make it. The soup is typically made with beef broth, which is high in fat and sodium. The soup is also typically topped with a large amount of melted cheese, which is also high in fat and calories.

If you are looking for a healthier soup option, you may want to consider making a lighter version of French onion soup.

Health Benefits Of Traditional French Onion Soup

Traditional French onion soup is a hearty and flavorful soup that is made with onions, beef broth, and cheese. While it is not the healthiest soup option, it does offer some potential health benefits.


Onions are a good source of nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, potassium, and quercetin. Quercetin is an antioxidant that has been linked to a number of health benefits, including reducing inflammation, improving blood pressure, and protecting against cancer.

Beef broth

Beef broth is a good source of protein, minerals, and vitamins. It is also a good source of collagen, which is a protein that helps to keep skin and joints healthy.


Cheese is a good source of protein, calcium, and other nutrients. However, it is also high in fat and calories. If you are watching your weight or your cholesterol, you may want to choose a lower-fat or fat-free cheese.

Overall, traditional French onion soup can be a part of a healthy diet if it is enjoyed in moderation. It is important to choose a low-sodium broth and to use a moderate amount of cheese. You can also add vegetables to the soup to boost the nutrient content.

Here are some additional health benefits of traditional French onion soup:

  • May help to boost the immune system: Onions are a good source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that helps to protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • May help to lower blood pressure: Onions contain quercetin, which has been shown to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
  • May help to protect against cancer: Onions contain a number of compounds that have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. These compounds include quercetin, sulforaphane, and allyl sulfides.
  • May help to improve gut health: Onions are a good source of soluble fiber, which can help to improve gut health by feeding the beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • May help to relieve inflammation: Onions contain quercetin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a major factor in the development of many chronic diseases.

What Is The Difference Between French Onion Soup And Regular Onion Soup?

French onion soup and regular onion soup are both made with onions, broth, and sometimes wine. However, there are some key differences between the two soups.

French onion soup is typically made with beef broth, while regular onion soup can be made with any type of broth. French onion soup also typically includes a layer of melted cheese on top, while regular onion soup may or may not have cheese.

Finally, French onion soup is often served in a bread bowl, while regular onion soup is typically served in a bowl.

Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between French onion soup and regular onion soup:

FeatureFrench Onion SoupRegular Onion Soup
BrothBeef brothAny type of broth
CheeseMelted cheese on topMay or may not have cheese
Serving dishBread bowlBowl

Here are some additional details about the differences between French onion soup and regular onion soup:

  • Beef broth: French onion soup is typically made with beef broth because it gives the soup a richer flavor. Regular onion soup can be made with any type of broth, but beef broth is the most common choice.
  • Melted cheese on top: French onion soup is typically topped with a layer of melted cheese, which adds a touch of richness and decadence. Regular onion soup may or may not have cheese, but it is not typically topped with a layer of melted cheese.
  • Bread bowl: French onion soup is often served in a bread bowl, which adds a touch of elegance and makes the soup more filling. Regular onion soup is typically served in a bowl.

Overall, French onion soup is a more decadent and luxurious version of regular onion soup. If you are looking for a hearty and flavorful soup that will warm you up on a cold day, French onion soup is the perfect choice.


Traditional French onion soup is a hearty and flavorful soup that is perfect for a cold winter day. The slow cooked onions are caramelized to perfection and the beef broth adds a rich flavor. The cheese topping is the perfect finishing touch, adding a touch of richness and decadence.

This soup is relatively easy to make, but it does require some time and patience. The onions need to be cooked slowly over low heat in order to caramelize properly. Once the onions are cooked, the soup can be assembled and baked in the oven.

This soup is best served hot and fresh. It can be enjoyed on its own or as a main course. If you are looking for a delicious and comforting soup to warm you up on a cold day, traditional French onion soup is the perfect choice.


What makes French onion soup “traditional”?

Traditional French onion soup is characterized by its key ingredients and cooking techniques. It typically consists of caramelized onions, beef broth, a hint of red wine, and is topped with toasted bread and melted Gruyère or Emmental cheese. The soup is slow cooked to develop deep flavors and served in a crock or oven safe bowl.

Can I use any type of onion for French onion soup?

While you can experiment with different onion varieties, such as yellow, white, or red, the classic choice for traditional French onion soup is yellow onions. Their mild sweetness and high sugar content lend themselves well to caramelization, resulting in a rich, savory flavor.

How long does it take to caramelize onions for French onion soup?

Caramelizing onions is a slow and patient process that typically takes around 45 minutes to an hour. The low heat allows the natural sugars in the onions to break down and develop a deep, golden brown color. Remember to stir frequently and keep an eye on the onions to prevent burning.

What type of bread should I use for the soup’s topping?

The traditional choice for the bread topping in French onion soup is a baguette. Slice the baguette into thick rounds and toast them before placing them on top of the soup. The crispy texture and rustic flavor of the baguette complement the soup perfectly.

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