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.
99 comments on “French Onion Soup”
I have made this several times. I use a Parmesan crisp instead of the bread. This is very good!
Love this soup. It’s a keeper. Used apple cider for brandy and champagne for white wine. Had
What staub bowls are these in? Mini cocotte?
Can’t wait to try this ! I have most of your cookbooks and would love if you included which cookbook the recipe was in when you share a recipe! Just a suggestion:)
Soooo good. Even my picky 11 year old liked it. I didn’t have Cognac, sherry, brandy or white wine so I was worried it wouldn’t turn out the way it should but it turned out delicious!!
Thank you for your amazing recipes!
Well you answered my question without me having to ask lol. I don’t have those items either. Glad to know it was still delicious
I was so excited to find a French onion soup that was lightened up without sacrificing taste. And yet again- skinnytaste recipe for the win!
It’s so good that 1). I don’t think I would enjoy the salty, too buttery restaurant version anymore and 2). My husband was beyond thrilled when I told him I’m making it again in the cold, wet, windy and snowy afternoon..
I wish you would open skinnytaste restaurants. That would be amazing.
Thanks for the recipe!!
looking for a fresh vegetarian
beet soup recipe and vegetarian onion soup recipe.. Thank you, Ginnywilliams2000@icloud.com..
You could make this recipe with a mushroom stock as replacement
So excited to make this! Has anyone tried freezing it? Without croutons of course. Thanks!
For Valentine’s Day I made your French Onion Soup, Baked Salmon Cakes with Zesty Avocado Cilantro Buttermilk Dressing and Berry Salad with Almond-Cranberry Crusted Goat Cheese. They were all huge hits and will be made many many more times. I highly recommend them all!
SO good! Didn’t have oven safe bowls so just broiled some Italian bread slices with Swiss cheese and soaked in the bowl but honestly it’s so good you don’t even need the cheese
SO good! Didn’t have onion safe bowls so just broiled some Italian bread slices with Swiss cheese and soaked in the bowl but honestly it’s so good you don’t even need the cheese.
Has anyone tried to make a vegan version with vegan cheese and veggie broth?
What can I substitute for the wine, brandy and sherry. I don’t want cooking wine. Having such small amounts and we don’t drink buying a bottle wouldn’t be useful. don’t know if small bottles can be purchased (like you could get on a plane_)
Most gas stations sell small bottles of wine (5 or 6 oz bottles) like they have on airplanes.
I did not have brandy or sherry so just used wine fir the whole thing. You can also just sub in Apple Juice
What staub mini cocotte’s do you have? Where did you purchase them?
Delicious! My husband’s favorite soup of all times is classic French Onion. This hit on all points. He loved it!
Are there alternate ingredients I can sub for the cognac and sherry? I’m reluctant to buy whole bottles for just an ounce. Could I just use extra wine? THAT I have! 🙂
Can’t wait to make! Do you have a recipe for beef broth? Thanks!
II am assuming you are writing that 1 1/2 C Broth are for each bowl, not the total amount for each bowl.
Can mushroom broth be used in place of beef broth to make this vegetarian or will something need to be added (and if so, what?). Thanks! –Kerri
Sure if you find one you really like, go for it!!
If you don’t have oven safe bowls, you can make cheese bread and drop it on top of a bowl of this soup. My college girl makes this and the oven baked cheese bread simplifies using this for left overs.
Would it be less points with chicken stock?
Thanks for that idea! I was just trying to figure out how to make this work without oven safe bowls.
Hi Gina will you be posting instantpot directions???
Hi! Is it still 8 points per serving with Freestyle? Thanks!
This remained the same 9 points.
Thanks for the recipe. This has become my go to site. I’ve had great luck with all. Do you think it would work in the quick pot? Or would ithe sauté temp be too hot to carmelize the onions?
I think it would be too hot.
Can the liquir be changed out for another ingredient or left out………
Sure you can leave it out
Any suggestions on how to convert to instant pot?
This is very close to Julia Child’s recipe for onion soup and I have never tasted any that beat it. Enjoy!
I just tried your bread-less French Onion soup from your cookbook. I've never tried parmesan crisps before. The whole recipe is amazing! I love your cookbook Gina. Thanks so much!
I made this tonight for my husband and I. Followed the recipe exactly except I had some Gruyere cheese on hand so used a bit of that. It was absolutely delicious and my husband loved it. This will be my preferred recipe!
In another slow cooker version of this soup I saw that you could add only the onions and the butter (they suggested using a liner) and cook on the high setting for 30-35 minutes. It said until the onions edges were starting to brown. Then mix dry ingredients together and add to the slow cooker with the broth. Cook on low 7-9 hours or High 3-4 (or until onions are very tender).
Made this tonight for dinner. It was excellent! I didn't have wine or the brandy so I made it without those.
Hi … can i leave out or substitute the alcohol? will it change/affect the taste?
Hey for those of you who have done the crock pot, what time and temp did you do??
Can we use the left over aujus from your french dip recipe as the soup base? Seems to me it's pretty similar.
This soup was delicious, I love the flavor that the sherry adds. Thanks for posting!
Do you have any tips on turning this into a "condensed" version to use in dishes that call for a condensed can of french onion soup?
This delicious soup is sitting on the stove simmering, just begging to be eaten! I can't wait to pop it in the oven, melt the cheese on it and give it a go! Gina, I just wanted to comment and say thank you so much for all the amazing recipes you have put up. They are all so delicious and I don't even have to feel like I am dieting because I still get to eat extremely tasty food. I'm proud of what I am eating and I want to share the recipes and the calorie count with everyone! I am not doing weight watchers but having a healthy alternative and calorie count for all of your meals has truly helped me. I have been "dieting" ,or as I prefer to call it changing my life style, since the beginning of December and I have already lost 31 pounds. I couldn't have done this without you and your incredible recipes! Thanks so much!
How many points in the soup without the cheese and bread???
how many calories should the bread be??? Like 150-200???
Love your site…I make lot of your recipes.
Gina, could this be made vegetarian? What reccomendations would you have for that. I am going whole foods, and this looks fantastic.
Waiting for my batch to finish simmering.. will let you know how it goes 😉 It was a picturesque rain n’ all…
Do you think you could freeze the remainder of this soup? There are only 2 of us so we don't need all 6 servings, but I know I will end up making this again so it would be nice to freeze the rest for a later date!
Freeze with out bread?
yes, and without cheese
It would be amazing to convert this to a slow cooker recipe! 🙂
what could i use instead of the cognac or brandy??
leave it out if you wish…
@Gina-do you think leaving out the brandy or cognac would change the taste significantly?
For cooking wine I always say use what you drink! No particular brand on the Sherry either.
What type of white wine would you recommend? I usually use a chardonay. Is there a kind of brandy or sherry that you recommend also that is good for cooking with?
Thanks so much for the recipes!!
I've never tried it in the crockpot, I would do the onion on the stove first.
I was wondering if it would be possible to make this in a crock pot?? If not, that's fine- I'm going to try it either way but I'm hooked on my crock pot this time of year 🙂
I'm making this tonight! To those wanting to make it vegetarian?? I once make a vegetarian French Onion soup, using portabello mushrooms and soy sauce. The mushrooms give it a beefy taste, as did the soy sauce. (you can try soaking dried mushrooms and then use the remaining liquid, or include the mushrooms in the soup).
I think it would remain the same.
Thanks fellow vegetarian! Great idea 🙂
Do you know how using veggie broth would change the points?
Thanks for the tip, I was stumped on how to answer but that sounds like a great solution!
Anonymout – fellow vegetarian here. Try this tip: If a recipe uses a beef broth you can turn vegetable broth into a vegetarian "beef" broth by adding 1 cup vegetarian Worcestershire sauce and about 1 tablespoon soy sauce to every quart of vegetable broth.
is there any way to make this a vegetarian recipe? Will it work with vegetable broth instead of beef broth?
I was a mouse in another life so I won't be deleting the cheese at all! What's 8 pts when you're having it for dinner with a salad?? I just can't wait to try this because I just love French onion soup. Thank you so much! God bless
I've never really cooked with brandy or dry sherry, can you suggest to me which brands of those are affordable but can be used again? Looking forward to making this next week.
It worked out great with just the wine and sherry! I didn't have oven proof bowls, so I broiled the bread and cheese and then let them sit on the soup a little bit before serving. YUM!!! Can't wait to have a bowl for lunch tomorrow!
Rebecca, I personally like the flavor the brandy adds to the soup, but you can certainly make it with wine and sherry instead.
This sounds great, we'll have to try it once the weather begins to cool again!
What we've done for FOS before is brush the bread with a little e.v.o. oil, and then rub garlic cloves and sprinkle parsley over top before baking. It adds a hint more flavour and smells delicious!
My husband and I are not really into alcohol, so I usually just keep cooking wine handy. Any chance I could just use white cooking wine and sherry? Is the brandy necessary?
Great tip! Sometimes to cut the points, I leave out the bread. The cheese kind of floats on the top while it broils, and some melts into the soup. It's all about the cheese for me! : )
gina-thanks for the great recipes! My husband loved this! I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner (extra points), so I always try to find ways to cut points in recipes…I nixed the butter in this recipe, used a little butter cooking spray and covered the onions. The water from the condensation helps the onions brown and you don't miss the butter at all!!! Just a cool trick I saw on the food network I wanted to share! Good luck to everyone on WW! I'm down 10 with 20 to go!
This was DELICIOUS! My husband is the French Onion soup lover, this recipe made me a lover too!
Will regular swiss drive the points up a ton? I had to shop at wal-mart and they do not have the alpine lace.
I made this last night and it was so fabulous! I will be making this again for sure!
You're welcome Kathy, I don't know that you would get that same great taste, why not use less butter or a light butter?
Gina, thank you SO much for wonderful recipes! My partner and I are having great weight loss success largely due to your recipes! They fill our weekly menus!
Can you offer an alternative to cooking the onions in so much butter? Would cooking spray work if you are using fewer onions for a smaller batch?
@Shelley- ha, there's an idea! I sometimes omit the bread but the cheese falls into the soup a bit, I like the onion ring idea!
If you could do with out the bread, but that is what makes the cheese stay, why not replace the bread with a BIG ring of onion, Honestly that is what I thought it was just by looking at the picture.
Time to get back on the WW wagon and your recipes will have me cooking even healthier for the rest of the family!
Thanks-maybe I will soon have a recipe as special as your most recent one- getting a few pounds off might be just what I need!
@ Patrick- thanks for all the kind words and always leaving your honest opinions on my recipes! I agree with you, this soup has such a comforting feeling. You can freeze the broth and just make one bowl at a time if you wish.
I just found your site because I just embarked on my journey to lose nearly 100 pounds. Thank you for all the delicious-looking recipes, the gorgeous pictures, for offering some healthy food choices that my family and I might actually eat.
OK, so I had to make this tonight. I don't know what I'm more addicted to – the success I've had with WW or Gina's recipes. OK, it's Gina's recipes – because I think they're the reason for my success! I know I'll reach goal! You simply MUST TRY THIS RECIPE. It will bring back memories of fancy restaurants and a bygone era. What a terrific blast of comfort on a cold night. Such a pleasure to be able to eat fantastic, completely satisfying foods while losing weight at the same time. Not a single recipe on this site I haven't been thrilled with.
Oh you all are so right about the cheese! Sadly, I'm lactose intolerant…my body can handle the butter, but not the cheese 🙁 I really miss that stuff!
Yum…I love french onion soup! Can't wait to try this.
Patrick, I couldn't agree with you more! The bread I could do without, but thats what keeps the cheese in place.
The cheese and bread on French Onion Soup is worth every delicious point!! Looks terrific!
Hi Sarah – If you take the cheese and bread away it is 3.5 per serving. The cheese adds an extra 2 points, the bread an extra 1 point.
Gina, I cannot wait to try this! I LOVE French onion soup so much 🙂
How many points per serving will the soup be if I nix the cheese?