How to make the perfect French Onion Soup Recipe
Cooking and preparation time: 80 minutes
Serves six people
Soups are fantastic. They’re warming, filling, brilliantly versatile, and ideal for anything from a quick snack, to a starter or a full meal. They can be served piping hot and steaming on a cold day, or cold and refreshing, like a Spanish gazpacho or an Eastern European fruit soup. We’ve all got our favourite soup recipes, combining much-loved ingredients, various flavours and spices, but as my grandmother always said, you can’t go far wrong with the classics.
French onion soup is one of those dishes that bridges the gap between heartiness and elegance, big, bold flavours with a touch of sophistication. It can be found in the finest French restaurants, and at Parisian street cafes and bistros.
It has found its way around the world, thanks to its simplicity and association with fine French cuisine, and it’s simple to cook and sure to impress.
What you'll need for the soup:
- 700 grams of finely sliced onions
- 50 grams of good quality butter
- Two cloves of crushed garlic
- Two tablespoons of olive oil
- Half a teaspoon of granulated sugar
- About two pints of beef stock (instant stock is fine)
- 275 ml of dry white wine - French, of course
- Two tablespoons of Cognac (optional)
- Salt and pepper to season
- 225 grams of grated Gruyere cheese
What you'll need for the croutons:
- Some french bread, cut into 2.5 cm squares
- One tablespoon of olive oil
- Two cloves of crushed garlic
Make your croutons. Toss your squares of bread in the crushed garlic, and a little salt and pepper. Lightly fry them in olive oil, and then set aside to dry. You’ll throw these over your soup later, to serve.
Now, for the soup. Put a large, heavy saucepan or casserole dish on a high heat, and melt the butter and olive oil together. When this is piping hot, add your onions, garlic and sugar, and keep them moving for six or seven minutes until the edges turn dark.
Turn the heat right down to the lowest setting, and continue to cook - stirring occasionally - for about thirty minutes. The base of your pan should get covered in a dark, oily film packed full of flavour. After the half hour is up, add your stock and white wine, some salt and pepper, and stir well in order to scrape up the flavours from the base of the pot.
Bring it to a simmer, then turn it right down again, and leave to cook gently for an hour. After an hour, you can add your Cognac and any other seasoning to taste.
The traditional French approach at this point is to ladle the soup into earthenware bowls, top them with some croutons and your Gruyere, and then stick them under the grill until the cheese is bubbling and browned. Serve hot, with crusty baguette, and enjoy!
Wine Pairing for French Onion Soup Recipe
Soups can be a little tricky to pair with wine, as they generally blend together lots of primary and secondary flavours, along with a base of cream or stock. However, with French onion soup, it’s as easy as it could be, because there is a strong principle flavour of onion - which always pairs brilliantly with wine - and because you’ve already cracked open a bottle of wine with which to make the soup.
Probably the best wine to both cook the soup with, and drink alongside the dish, is Viognier. This wine will bring out the natural, caramelised sweetness of the onions, while adding a lovely, crisp floral character that will complement the cheese and garlic beautifully.
Pinot Gris is also a great choice, as it has enough robustness and acidity to balance everything out very nicely indeed.
There you have it-- an all-star, easy-to-make recipe for French Onion Soup! Slide into the chilly days of winter with this hearty classic.. and the best wine that pairs perfectly with this warming delight!
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