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Easy French Onion Soup is loaded with sweet caramelized onions, fresh thyme, beef stock and a big splash of pale lager, then topped with toasted garlic croutons and plenty of strong Gruyère cheese.
It’s unusual for me to praise a bowl of French Onion Soup. It’s never been my favorite, until I finally tasted a great bowl of French Onion Soup! My traveling husband is a bit of a French Onion Soup (snob) connoisseur. He’s experienced many bowls on his travels, but this is some of the best he’s ever had, or so he said 🙂 I don’t have a lot to compare it with, but can attest to the fact that it’s sweet, cheesy, robust and down right delicious!
We adore onions in soups, salads, omelettes, pizza and in all kinds of dishes.
So it’s not a stretch to believe I’d love a big pile of caramelized onions served in a bowl with cheese. The onions are super sweet and silky soft and this recipe is so easy! I did a lot of research, read a lot of reviews and finally ended up borrowing bits and pieces from multiple recipes to make my own. Many recipes call for white or red wine but I found the idea of adding beer very appealing. I used a pale lager (Stella Artois) but your favorite ale would probably be great too.
On occasion, French Onion Soup is served with a thick blanket of cheese melted over the top of a giant piece of bread that completely covers the soup.
My husband said he loved the fact that I only used a few pieces of bread (croutons) which allowed some of the cheese to seep down into the broth. Seeping cheese – bonus! My version of this popular soup is also a little less ‘brothy’ than some. That’s because of all the amazing onions and seeping cheese. This soup is much easier to eat with just a few crouton styled bread slices, but feel free to add more if you want! I think it would be great with a bunch of smaller toasted croutons too … so easy to eat with a spoon.
The thick baguette slices are brushed with olive oil and toasted in the oven until lightly browned on top and bottom.
Fresh garlic is rubbed on the toasted croutons before floating the bread in a bowl of soup. Sprinkle with sliced and grated Gruyère then broil until melted and bubbly. Garnish with a little fresh parsley and dig in!
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 large sweet onions, peeled and cut into 1/4" slices
- 3 large garlic cloves, divided
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 bay leaf
- ¾ cup pale lager beer, such as Stella Artois or your favorite ale
- 32 ounces 4 cups beef stock, divided (low sodium preferred)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 4 - 5 springs of soft fresh thyme, chopped
- fresh ground black pepper
- salt to taste, if needed
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- For serving:
- 12 1-inch thick slices of baguette
- Olive oil for brushing
- 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, 1 slice for each piece of bread, the rest shredded and spread over the top of the bowl
- 3 - 4 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley for garnish
- Additional fresh ground black pepper if desired
- Add the olive oil and butter to a heavy-bottom large saucepan, warm on medium heat. Add the sliced onions and fresh ground pepper. Cook the onions over medium heat until they are very soft and reduced in volume, about 20 minutes. While the onions cook, mince 2 of the garlic cloves and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low, push the onions aside in the pot and add the garlic and brown sugar to the pan. Sauté the garlic until fragrant (about 2 minutes), then mix with the onions. Cook the onion mixture for another 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onions are deep golden brown in color. Do not let them crisp.
- Add the beer, 3 1/2 cups of the beef stock, Dijon mustard, bay leaf and thyme to the onions. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.
- Mix the remaining 1/2 cup of beef stock with the cornstarch. Whisk until blended. Slowly drizzle the cornstarch mixture into the onion soup, gently stirring to prevent lumps. Season the soup with fresh ground black pepper, check the seasoning and add a little salt if needed. The soup should have thickened slightly at this point. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- To serve, brush the baguette slices with olive oil and bake on a cookie sheet until toasted and golden brown. Cut the remaining garlic clove in half. Rub the surface of the toasted baguette slices with the cut side of the garlic. Ladle the soup into 6 ovenproof bowls and place on a baking sheet. Preheat oven to broil. Float two slices of the toasted baguettes on top of each bowl. Cover the bread with slices of Gruyère. Top the bread and soup with the shredded cheese. Place the bowls of soup under the broiler, watching carefully, until the cheese is bubbly, melted and lightly browned. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve immediately.
- A good mandoline makes quick work of the onions without shedding a tear!
- We used Stella Artois pale lager beer - but your favorite bitter ale will be good too.
- The bowls of soup may be made as needed - serving 2 instead of 6, etc. Gently rewarm the remaining soup when ready, then proceed with toasting the baguettes, etc.
Here are a few more easy soup recipes you might also enjoy:
- Easy Minestrone Soup
- Creamy Tuscan Garlic Tortellini Soup ~ from The Recipe Critic
- Easy Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe ~ from Natasha’s Kitchen
- Broccoli and Potato Soup ~ from RecipeTin Eats
We love our simple mandoline for slicing vegetables – especially onions! (Photo is clickable for more information)
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