French Onion Soup, when done properly, is one of my favorite soups to sit down to at mealtime.
Because I am a sucker for seemingly useless information, I decided to look into the soup’s history a little. You might be pleasantly surprised to learn that had been born as far back in history as 509 BC, you may still get to enjoy a hot bowl of French Onion Soup come cena (the name given to dinner, the main meal of the day, by the ancient Romans) . We can see that onion soups date as far back as the Ancient Romans, and just like lobster, oysters and foie gras, French Onion Soup was also once considered food for the less fortunate (because onions were so abundant and easy to grow). The more modernized version of this soup is reported to have emerged out of 18th century France, with a resurgence of popularity (especially within the U.S.) occurring sometime around the 1960’s as a result of growing interest in French cuisine. Despite the dish’s many variations, you’ll find that it is almost always made using beef broth (unless you are a vegetarian) and caramelized onions. Though French Onion Soup is typically served as a starter, I have found that by serving it in a bread bowl, you can easily make a meal of it.
Give this particular variation a try and you just might never need another ever again! Packed with depth and flavor, the red wine (or whichever wine you choose to use *see additional note beside red wine in the ingredients list below for substitutions) and seasonings create an exceptionally exquisite take on the classic dish.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hours 15 minutes
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
- 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
- 1 (48 fluid oz.) can chicken broth
- 1 (14 oz.) can beef broth
- 1/2 cup red wine (also try making with a champagne, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Gewürztraminer for delicious variations of this recipe!)
- 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 sprigs fresh parsley
- 1 sprig fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 4 thick slices French or Italian bread
- 8 slices Gruyère or Swiss cheese slices, room temperature
- 1/2 cup shredded Asiago or mozzarella cheese, room temperature
- 4 pinches paprika
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in salt, red onions and sweet onions. Cook 35 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are caramelized and almost syrupy.
- Mix chicken broth, beef broth, red wine and Worcestershire sauce into pot. Bundle the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf with twine and place in pot. Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the herbs.
- Reduce the heat to low, mix in vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep over low heat to stay hot while you prepare the bread.
- Preheat oven broiler. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet and broil 3 minutes, turning once, until well toasted on both sides. Remove from heat; do not turn off broiler.
- Arrange 4 large oven safe bowls or crocks on a rimmed baking sheet. Fill each bowl 2/3 full with hot soup. Top each bowl with 1 slice toasted bread, 2 slice Gruyère cheese and 1/4 of the Asiago or mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle a bit of paprika over the top of each one.
- Broil 5 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. As it softens, the cheese will cascade over the sides of the crock and form a beautifully melted crusty seal.
- Serve immediately!
Suggested Wine Pairings: This soup is traditionally served with a Beaujolais, but also pairs well with a nice glass of young Bordeaux, a medium-bodied Merlot, or a lightly oaked or creamy Chardonnay (served at about 10 degrees below room temperature for best taste). Alternatively, you may also try serving a Pinot Noir or a Chenin Blanc.