French Onion Soup – Overthinking Classics

French Onion Soup
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The winter is here in full force and I don’t have much to say about it because, well, I don’t want to start a new year of recipes off with negativity in my heart. So instead, I will highlight my favorite winter activity – refining my comfort food skills. When my world turns into a frozen tundra, I fall back on my favorites. Classic dishes that tickle my nostalgia and warm my toes. That’s why it’s lucky that we’re starting 2022 with another installment in my Overthinking Classics series. Today, we’re tackling what I think is the most January-friendly dish of all time – French Onion Soup.

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Lid

After a good three months of excess, the return to routine is here. Now, I’m not one to diet, so don’t worry, this is not a slimmed-down take on the classic. This is a true blue French Onion Soup with probably a little more cheese than is advisable. So while I’m not down with restricting, I do like to keep things relatively simple in the months following the holidays. I try to go easy on my pocketbook as well. And few recipes are as cheap or simple to make as French Onion Soup.

Taking a spoonful of French Onion Soup

But even with its cheap and cheerful ingredients and chill preparation, French Onion Soup still manages to comfort, soothe, and even come across as indulgent. Plus the lengthy caramelization process fills your home with the rich scent of butter, garlic, and of course, onions. The soup makes you feel cozy before it even hits your lips.

Now, I did use the word “lengthy” to describe the caramelization process. And yes, it is apt. So this recipe is a great chill Sunday cook. You have to check in on the onions every 15 minutes or so. So yeah, you have to be around. But most of this soup’s cook time is inactive, so you can squeeze in a workout or tackle some laundry or just become one with your couch while dinner more or less takes care of itself. And if you work from home? Well, no one is going to know you’re stirring onions in between meetings. I don’t know about you, but these are the kind of recipes I need when I’m attempting to survive January.

French Onion Soup with a spoon dug into it

Now because I over-explain everything about this French Onion Soup in the video below, I’m going to leave this post here. If you have any lingering questions, I no doubt this Chatty Cathy will address them. And if you enjoy the video, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. I post a new recipe there every week.


French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

This French Onion Soup features heavily caramelized onions swimming in a rich broth topped with a lid of soup-soaked crostini and gooey gruyere cheese.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Course Soup
Servings 4


  • 1 large heavy bottom pot
  • 1 medium-sized baking sheet


  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 7 yellow onions sliced into half-moons
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small baguette sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic divided
  • ¼ cup dry vermouth **
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard *** heaping
  • 6 cups good quality stock ****
  • 185g (6.5oz) gruyere shredded


  • Place a large heavy-bottom pot over medium heat. Add the butter and let it melt. Once the butter has melted, add your onions, salt, thyme, and bay leaves. Reduce the heat to low and cover.
    ¼ cup unsalted butter, 7 yellow onions, 1 tsp kosher salt, 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves
  • Check on your onions and give them a stir every 15 minutes or so. We want to cook these onions until they turn amber and are practically mush. This can take up to 2 hours if you really want to develop that rich onion flavor. But you can pull the onions earlier if you prefer a lighter tasting soup.
  • While your onions are caramelizing preheat the oven to 300°F. Slice a baguette and arrange the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. ***** Bake for 30 minutes.
    1 small baguette
  • When the onions look like they have about 15 minutes left in their cook time, slice 4 cloves of the garlic thinly and add them to the pot.
    6 cloves garlic
  • Once the onions are where you like them and they are starting to catch on the bottom of the pot, deglaze the pot with the vermouth. Fish out and discard the thyme and bay leaves. Stir in the mustard followed by the stock. Bring the soup up to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
    ¼ cup dry vermouth **, 2 tbsp Dijon mustard ***, 6 cups good quality stock ****
  • While the soup is on its final simmer, place 4 onion soup bowls on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven. Turn the broiler on. While the broiler is heating up, rub the remaining garlic on each crouton.
    6 cloves garlic
  • Once the soup is done, taste and season with additional salt if necessary. Take the soup bowls out of the oven and place 2-3 croutons into the bottom of the bowl. Ladle the soup on top and the croutons should rise to the surface. Cover the bowls with the shredded gruyere and return them to the oven. Broil the soup until the cheese melts and browns slightly. Simply garnish the soup with a sprig of fresh thyme and serve.
    185g (6.5oz) gruyere


** If you don’t have vermouth you can use sherry or white wine instead.
*** You can add apple cider vinegar or even fish sauce instead if you prefer.
**** The quality of the stock you use is important, the type is not. Beef stock is traditional but you could use chicken if you prefer. Or use vegetable stock to keep things vegetarian. 
***** I realize this is a low oven for toasting bread but I’m less interested in giving the bread color than I am in drying it out. So putting the slices in a 300°F oven for 30 minutes will help me achieve that extreme level of crispness.
Keyword cheese, gruyere, onions, soup

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