French onion soup is one of my favorite soups, we order it all the time at our neighborhood restaurant but it’s just as easy to make from scratch and so much lighter.
French Onion Soup
French onion soup is one of my favorite soups, it’s comforting and filling, perfect for lunch or dinner as a main with a salad, or serve it as a first course. Making it from scratch is great for weekend cooking, leftover broth can be reheated for the week.
We love going to our neighborhood restaurant for French onion soup, but it’s far from light. I wanted to recreate their soup at home so I could enjoy it more often but with fewer calories. This French onion soup is easy to make and lighter than most restaurant versions. A hearty bowl is the perfect meal this time of year when it’s so cold outside.
Traditional French onion soup is made with a lot more butter and usually topped with lots of cheese. While it’s delicious, it’s not the healthiest. My recipe calls for just one slice of cheese on each serving. Gruyere cheese is typically used in French onion soup, but Alpine Lace Swiss cheese is a great lighter alternative. You can also use mozzarella if you prefer.
What goes with French onion soup?
French onion soup is great by itself, but you could serve it with a salad to round out your meal. Try the soup with my berry salad with goat cheese or arugula salad with fig and prosciutto. You could also serve the soup as a starter for any meal. It would be perfect paired with roast beef and roasted brussels sprouts.
What kind of onions do you use for French onion soup?
I use yellow onions in my French onion soup, but you could use Vidalia, white, or red onions.
How to Make French Onion Soup
First, you need to cook the onions in butter for about 20 to 30 minutes. You want the onions to get soft and turn a nice golden color. Once the onions are ready, add in flour and mix for a couple of minutes. Then mix in the thyme, bay leaf, sherry, wine, and brandy and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the beef stock, salt, and pepper, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. After, ladle the soup into six oven-proof bowls and place on a baking sheet. Cover with a round piece of toast and top with a slice of cheese.
Put the tray in the oven and broil for 2-3 minutes until the cheese melts. Keep an eye on it – the cheese can burn quickly if left under the broiler for too long.
Variations and Tips:
- Beef Broth – I usually make my own beef stock, which makes all the difference in the flavor but canned works fine too, as long as you use one you really like. I usually buy a few brands and taste them, trust me it’s worth the few bucks you will spend then ruining the whole meal. This Best Beef Broth and Stock article from Epicurious is really helpful. I’ve also done this with half beef and half chicken broth.
- Low-Carb – you can make this soup low carb by swapping out the bread for steamed cauliflower to hold the cheese up. Another low-carb trick I like to use is making Parmesan crisps (without the everything bagel seasoning) and using that top hold the cheese when melting.
- Onions – Use Vidalia, red, or white onions in place of the yellow onions.
- Gluten-free – Make the soup gluten-free by subbing in gluten-free flour and bread.
- Cheese – Use Gruyere or another white cheese, such as fontina, mozzarella or provolone instead of the reduced-fat Swiss if you prefer.
To Make Ahead:
The broth can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stove then toast the bread and melt the cheese before ready to serve.
More Soup Recipes You’ll Love:
- Classic Potato Leek Soup
- Kale and Potato Soup with Turkey Sausage
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Cream of Asparagus Soup
- Golden Red Lentil Soup with Spinach
French Onion Soup
- 2 pounds yellow onions, sliced thin
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp flour, (or gluten-free flour)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 ounce dry sherry
- 1 ounce Cognac or brandy
- 2 ounces white wine
- 9 cups beef broth, (store bought or homemade)
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 6 slices toasted Italian bread (6 ounces), or gluten-free bread
- 6 slices reduced-fat Swiss, or your favorite cheese
- In a Dutch oven, or large pot, sauté the onions with the butter over medium heat, until the onions are soft and golden, about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often. Add a few drops of water if they get too dry. You want them caramelized but not browned.
- Add flour, mixing well another 2-3 minutes.
- Add thyme, bay leaf, sherry, wine and brandy, and simmer uncovered for 10 more minutes.
- Add the beef broth, salt & pepper to taste, reduce heat.
- Cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf and ladle 1-1/2 cups soup into 6 oven-proof bowls.
- Place bowls on a baking sheet.
- Place sliced toasted bread rounds into each bowl and top bread with cheese.
- Broil 2 to 3 minutes, until cheese melts.