Sunday, January 29, 2012

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup 1

When I first learned how to make French Onion Soup about a decade ago, I used to make it at least a few times a year. The cookbook instructed me to cut the onions into whole rings, which can be a bit of a bother. Slicing the first half of the onion wasn't so bad, but the second half became unwieldy and difficult to cut thinly.

What a silly reason to stop making such a delicious soup.

Or even sillier was feeling like I had to slice onions exactly the way a cookbook told me.

So when I was craving the caramelized cheesy goodness, I decided to be daring and slice the onions in half before slicing them thinly. No more rings! Sure the soup won't look as pretty, but the smaller onion slices also meant it was easier to spoon.

Really, the key to a good French Onion Soup is patience. Patiently slice the onions thinly. Patiently wait for them to caramelize. It takes about 45 minutes, but it's so worth it. If you cheat and slice the onions thicker or add the broth before they've properly softened, it just won't taste the same. So just be patient, I promise it'll be worth it.

French Onion Soup 2

French Onion Soup

For 4 servings, you'll need:
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 tblsp olive oil
2 tblsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
32 oz beef broth
1/4 cup or more madeira or other wine of your choice
Sprig of thyme
French baguettes, thinly sliced
Cheese of your choice

I've been waiting for years to use this onion picture from May 2009. It was the first picture I took with my new used dslr.

French Onion Soup 3

Slice the onions in half lengthwise, and then in thin slices. Or keep the onion whole and slice into rings if you wish.

French Onion Soup 4

Drizzle a generous tblsp of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat and add the onions and 1/4 tsp salt.

French Onion Soup 5

Stir for about 5 minutes until the onions are starting to soften.

French Onion Soup 6

Then add 2 tblsp butter.

French Onion Soup 7

After half an hour, the onions are markedly reduced, but not caramelized. Keep going.

French Onion Soup 8

After 40 minutes.

French Onion Soup 9

At 45 minutes, the onions start browning.

French Onion Soup 10

Stir continuously and watch closely because the onions are almost ready.

French Onion Soup 11

Another minute and the onions are perfectly caramelized and softened.

French Onion Soup 12

Add 32 oz of beef broth. Or vegetarian broth if you wish.

French Onion Soup 13

And about 1/4 cup of madeira or other wine of your choice.

French Onion Soup 14

Add a sprig of thyme and let the soup continue simmering.

Meanwhile, add some shredded cheese on baguette slices and pop them in the toaster oven for a few minutes.

Taste the soup and adjust seasonings if necessary.

French onion soup!

French Onion Soup 15

Yummy soft, caramelized onions.

French Onion Soup 16

Wait! It needs a cheesy baguette slice before it's perfect.

French Onion Soup 17

Like my French onion soup mug? I picked it up at the thrift store. I have a whole set of other soup recipe mugs.

What if I served French onion soup in my French bowls? You can't tell the bowl is French?

French Onion Soup 18

How 'bout now? What's more French than the Louvre and Notre Dame?

French Onion Soup 19

My favorite part is immersing the cheesy toast into the broth before spooning it up.

French Onion Soup 20


Other French soup recipes:
Boeuf Bourguignon (French Beef Burgundy)
Coq Au Vin (French Chicken with Wine)
Vietnamese-French Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine and Mushrooms

1 year ago today,
2 years ago today, Ask Wandering Chopsticks 5.
3 years ago today, Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant (Dim Sum) - Rosemead.
4 years ago today, Thit Heo Kho Dau Hu (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Tofu).
5 years ago today, one of my favorite broken rice restaurants, Da Nang Com Tam Tran Quy Cap - Westminster (Little Saigon) and one of my most popular recipes, Cha Gio (Vietnamese Egg Rolls).


  1. Mmm, one of my favorites! I go further with my caramelization and usually cook the onions down until they get dark reddish-brown, and take them off heat at the last possible moment before they start burning. It's usually another half hour to an hour of extra time, and even longer if you're like me and want to make a whole pot of the stuff, because caramelized onion jam is just the best thing on toast, or with goat cheese on pizza. *drool*

    And instead of beef broth I like to use beef consomme! Sooooo good.

    1. I forgot to add that in the process of cooking the onions, around where you stop is when I turn the heat to the lowest setting. Then it's just left on the stove and occasionally stirred until the last ten minutes or so, when the color intensifies. :)

  2. I am a "regular" at thrift stores around my city, but I haven't come across special things that you have acquired! I guess I have to look more closely. The soup sounds easy enough to make, and the soup mug adds the "flavor". Thanks for easy to follow instructions and the pictures too.

  3. Dragonkiri,
    You have wayyyy more patience than me! The 45 minutes I go for is pretty long! If you add soy sauce to the onion jam, it makes a great dipping sauce for chicken. Or add bacon to the onion jam.

    Co Toan,
    I have chicken, chili, tomato, and mushroom soup mugs. I'm on the lookout for oxtail and Scotch broth and I'll have the whole set as far as I know of. I actually saw oxtail and Scotch broth soup mugs before I started collecting them, but didn't buy any. Then after coming across these mugs so often, they kinda grew on me. I have a set of pie plates too with recipes on them for pecan, pumpkin, strawberry, apple pies, and cheesecake. Kitschy, but I love them.


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