French onion soup is one dish that I order when I dine out, but it’s often a disappointment. Sometimes the soup is nothing more than mild broth with onions. At other times, the broth and onions are satisfying, but the cheese doesn’t measure up. The flavor of French onion soup can vary greatly, but good French onion soup calls for hearty beef stock, caramelized onions, and an earthy cheese such as Gruyère.
I should say that I sometimes order French onion soup when I eat out, because I only make it once a year at home and that’s during the Christmas holiday. It has become a tradition to serve French onion soup during the holidays, so it just seems wrong to make it on just any ordinary day. Occasionally, when I pick up a good bottle of wine, I think it might work well in the soup. Still, I don’t try it. I wait for that once a year occasion and then I stay true to my recipe.
It’s not difficult to make French onion soup, nor is it too expensive except perhaps for the Gruyère. The cost of Gruyère is manageable if you’re only making soup for a small dinner party. The toasted pieces of French bread and the melted cheese, I think, is everyone’s favorite part of the dish, but my favorite is the hearty broth and the caramelized onions. It’s especially good leftover.
French Onion Soup Recipe
- 1 stick of butter 8 tablespoons
- 6 large onions sliced (about 12 cups)
- 8 cups beef broth
- 1 cup Madeira
- Salt and black pepper
- French bread sliced into ½-inch thick diagonals, toasted
- 4 cups grated Gruyère cheese
Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the onions, and stir until onions are coated with the butter. Cook for 30 minutes until the onions are brown, or caramelized, stirring frequently.
Add the beef broth and the Madeira, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or longer.
Heat the broiler on high. Fill soup bowls about ¾ full. Place one or two toasted bread slices on top of each serving, depending on the size of the bread slices, and cover with a handful of the grated cheese. Broil until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned. Serve immediately.