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Julia Child’s French Onion Soup

by insanelygood

Looking for a rich and hearty soup to warm you on a cold, rainy night? Julia Child’s French onion soup is everything you need and more.

Sweet caramelized onions swimming in a rich beef broth topped with toasted bread and melty cheeses: French onion soup is rustic comfort food at its finest.

One spoonful of this soup is guaranteed to tickle your tastebuds and warm your heart.

There is nothing like the flavor and texture combinations of caramelized onions, French bread, cheese, and beef to soothe your soul. Simply put, it’s perfection in a bowl.

Homemade French Onion Soup with Cheese and Chopped Onions

The best part? French onion soup calls for the most basic and affordable pantry ingredients. So yes, you can definitely make this at home. 

Julia Child’s French Onion Soup Recipe 

French onion soup is a thin soup made with caramelized onions, beef broth, and wine, and topped with bread and cheese. It originated in – surprise – France; and dates back all the way to the 18th century.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear French onion soup, I think super fancy and elegant. But it actually started as a peasant soup made with onions and stale bread!

The more sophisticated soup we know and love is just a modernized version.

When it comes to French onion soup, there is no better person to turn to than the great Julia Child. I think it’s safe to say that her recipe is the most classic and authentic one you can find out there!

The key to the best French onion soup is to caramelize the onions, and this takes at least 40 minutes. You must be patient, but don’t worry, the result is worth the wait.

Ingredients for French Onion Soup

The great thing about French onion soup is that it only calls for basic ingredients. In fact, I’m sure you’ll find all of these readily available in your kitchen!

  • Onions. Classic French onion soup calls for yellow onions, but you can also use white or red. 
  • Butter. It’s a crucial ingredient to caramelize the onions. You can use olive oil, but nothing beats the richness of butter.
  • Flour. Going hand in hand with butter, flour forms a roux that thickens the soup.
  • White wine. It comes in handy when your onions are burning at the bottom of the pan. Pouring in a few spoonfuls of wine will deglaze the pan, helping you scrape out the burned onion bits.
  • Beef Stock. It’s the flavor base of the soup. Classic French onion soup calls for beef, but you can also experiment with chicken or veggie.
  • French Bread. It’s the iconic soup topping. Any French bread will do, but a crusty baguette is highly recommended.
  • Cheeses. The only way to top your French bread. This recipe calls for Swiss and Parmesan, but you can also use whatever mild and melty cheeses you want. Gruyere, asiago, gouda, brie, Havarti, blue, and mozzarella are all fantastic options.

Tips for Flavorful Onion Soup

  • The flavor of this soup lies in the broth, so high-quality beef stock is key. Use homemade beef stock as much as possible. If you don’t have it on hand, get one from the butcher. 
  • Canned beef stock should be your last option. Taste it first before going for it!
  • The onions are the highlight of the soup, so you’ll want to make that extra effort of caramelizing them properly. Don’t settle for shortcuts and strictly adhere to the process.
  • You also want to simmer the broth for at least 30 minutes. Do not skip this step! It is crucial to get that deeper, richer, beefy flavor.

Can this dish be made in advance? 

Definitely! 

You can store the soup in the fridge, sans the bread and cheese, and it will keep well for up to 3 days.

If you want it to last much longer, you can freeze the soup for up to 3 months.

You can prepare the bread ahead of time, place it in an airtight container, and store at room temperature. Toasted bread will keep well for up to 3 days.

Traditional French Onion Soup

What to serve with French Onion Soup

French onion soup works as a stand-alone meal, but you also can’t go wrong with adding meat to your dinner. Any meaty dish, such as roasted pork tenderloin, grilled chicken, or steak, are all excellent options.

Since the soup is super rich and hearty, you can balance it out with something light, such as a crisp salad or oven-roasted veggies. 

Julia Child’s French Onion Soup

Servings

6-8

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

2

hours 

Ingredients

  • 5-6 cups yellow onions, thinly sliced

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 tablespoons flour

  • 6 cups beef stock (better if homemade)

  • ½ cup wine (dry white wine or dry white vermouth)

  • 8 slices French bread, about 1-inch thick

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil for drizzling

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 2-3 tablespoons cognac

  • ½ raw yellow onion, grated

  • 12 ounces Swiss cheese, grated

  • 4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated

Directions

  • Place a heavy-bottom stockpot or dutch oven on a stove over medium-low heat. Add cooking oil and butter. Saute onions until evenly coated with oil and butter.
  • Cover the pot and let it sit until onions are soft and translucent, about 20 minutes.
  • For caramelized onions, turn the heat to medium or medium-high. Stir in sugar and salt and cook uncovered, stirring often until onions are browned and reduced.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the flour. Stir for 2-3 minutes, or until the flour and butter form a thick paste. If paste not achieved, add more butter.
  • Mix in 1 cup of warm beef stock. Scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching. Stir in the remaining stock and wine. Let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.
  • For the croutons or toasted bread, preheat your oven to 325°F.
  • Drizzle bread with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.
  • Bake the bread for 15 minutes at 325°F. Flip the slices over and bake for another 15 minutes.
  • Once the soup has simmered, preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour the soup into a casserole dish. Stir in cognac, the 1/2 raw onion (grated), and a few ounces of Swiss cheese.
  • Top the soup with toasted bread in a single layer. Top the bread with the remaining Swiss and Parmesan cheese. Be sure all the edges of bread are covered to avoid burning. Drizzle with oil or melted butter.
  • Bake the casserole at 350°F for 30 minutes. Turn on the broiler and brown the cheeses.
  • Let the soup cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Julia Child's French Onion Soup

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