The Best Homemade French Onion Soup – A love story

This is the best Homemade French Onion Soup! It has a generous portion of caramelized onions in a rich, flavorful beef broth made from scratch. Three types of cheese are broiled on top of croutons to melty, toasty perfection. 

Homemade French Onion Soup

Everyone knows that the three key ingredients in French cuisine are butter, butter, and butter, but I would argue that there is a fourth. That secret is high quality ingredients. Real cream, quality cheese, fresh, in-season produce, and, of course, butter.

Homemade French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup, at its core, is a very simple soup. It is here that quality ingredients matter.

If you want to turn a good soup into a tantalizing culinary experience, you need to start with homemade beef broth. I’m talkin’ roasted veal and beef bones simmering for hours. Try it. Then you’ll understand.

You will want to make sure that your onions are deliciously caramelized. Almost more than you think is right. Even darker than the pictures in my initial post. They will smell sweet with a note of caramel, and should be a rich caramel brown.

Homemade French Onion Soup

My secret in this recipe? Cognac. There are only 2 tablespoons in 4 servings but this is the flavor that pulls the onions and broth and cheese together and makes a symphony of taste. It is the flavor that your guests won’t quite be able to pinpoint, but they will know there is something truly delightful and different about your French Onion Soup. Cognac.

French Onion Soup

Gruyere cheese is traditional and you would not be remiss using all gruyere, but I used a medley of gruyere, Swiss, and fontina and it was delicious.

Homemade French Onion Soup

Dig through the cheese and the bread with your spoon and scoop up some of the broth and onions into one complete bite. Marvel as your eyes close and you sigh in pleasure. It is seriously that delicious. Simple done right.

That is what home cooking is all about, right?

I didn’t need an excessive amount of salt in this soup, and that is how I wrote it below. Sometimes salt is a flavor enhancer and sometimes it is compensating for a lack of flavor development. Many a restaurant French onion soup is suffering from this disorder. Sad but true.

Homemade French Onion Soup

But, Lindsey, this is all great but what of the love story?

It’s simple in its essence, yet complex like this soup. French onion soup reminds me of my Husband, how I enjoy the time we spend together and how much I love him; it is a thread that can be traced all through our dating, our honeymoon and our marriage. French onion soup feels like it’s a part of my soul. Amour. Soupe à l’oignon. Paris.

Tomorrow is our first wedding anniversary, an anniversary of the date that we formally told the world that we are one, but it feels like we have always been one and we always will be. That is what great love is, and I am thankful everyday that I’ve found it.

I leave you with the best French onion soup and the words of Westley in The Princess Bride, “This is true love – you think this happens everyday?”

Homemade French Onion Soup

The Best French Onion Soup – A love story

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

This is the best Homemade French Onion Soup! It has a generous portion of caramelized onions in a rich, flavorful beef broth made from scratch. The cheese is broiled on top of croutons to melty, toasty perfection.


  • ~1 cup caramelized onions [or the entire homemade recipe here]
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (not packed)
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac*
  • 3 ½ cups beef broth [Preferably homemade or organic, low-sodium]
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • French baguette, sliced ¾ inch thick along a diagonal
  • 1 ½ cups (or more, I’m not judging.) gruyere, swiss and fontina cheese.**


  1. When making French onion soup, I caramelize my onions in a Dutch oven, so that I only dirty one pot. L-A-Z-Y
  2. Once your onions are sufficiently caramelized (deep, rich caramel in color) sprinkle with the flour and stir to coat. Add the thyme, Cognac, two large pinches kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Stir to distribute the spices and allow to cook on low for a few minutes.
  3. Add your beef broth and simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes. This allows the flavors to develop.
  4. While your soup is simmering, toast your bread on a baking sheet under the broiler. Watch it carefully! Toast until brown on each side.
  5. Ladle an equal amount of soup into each broiler-safe, 13 ounce bowl. Top with several bread slices and then top with ¼ of the cheese mixture. Broil on a baking sheet until the cheese has melted and has started to bubble and brown.
  6. Serve immediately, but eat with care! HOT!


*Cognac is brandy that has been made in Cognac, France. It is like the Champagne of brandy. You can taste the difference. The higher the quality, the better the taste of your soup. Since there is such a tiny amount in this recipe, you could buy those small airplane bottles or a pint. If Cognac is not an option, then opt for the best brandy you can afford.

**I used almost a cup of gruyere and then an overflowing ¼ cup each of fontina and swiss. You do your thing.

***My husband wanted more broth. I like it as written. If you know you would like a thinner soup (fewer onions in each bite) then increase your beef broth to 4 1/2 cups. As long as you are using quality beef broth, this should not impact the flavor too much. Feel free to throw in a little extra thyme and Cognac.

Based on a recipe by Martha Stewart

Other Heart Warming Recipes:

Heritage Beef & Vegetable Stew


Heritage Beef-Vegetable StewHealthy Italian Turkey Sausage Soup

Healthy Italian Turkey Sausage Soup

Cilantro Sherry Chili 

Sherry Cilantro Chili


Healthy Chipotle Chicken Chili and Shaker Cornbread {GF}Healthy Chipotle Chicken Chili with Shaker Cornbread | Gluten Free Meals | American Heritage Cooking

This recipe is linked to: Inspiration Monday, Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Party Time, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Gluten Free Wednesday, What’s Cookin’ Wednesday, Gluten Free Friday, Foodie Friday, Flashback Friday, Food on Friday, Saturday Night Fever


  1. says

    This soup looks absolutely delicious!!. I’ve actually been craving French Onion Soup lately, and now my craving has hit full stride. Oh, and Happy Anniversary, Lindsey! I hope you guys are off walking through Piedmont Park holding hands and looking longingly into each other’s eyes. After all, isn’t that what married folks do? :-)
    David @ Spiced recently posted…Wild Mushroom Bean and Barley SoupMy Profile

  2. says

    I thought your love story was just the soup! haha Seriously, happy anniversary! I feel the same way about French onion soup — my husband is French and he enjoys it as much as I do, but it hasn’t been the same outside of Paris. :( However, making it at home it so easy and better than most restaurants. Yours looks phenomenal, and I love the addition of cognac! :)

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thank you! Shhh I liked this one better than the ones we ate in Paris. And i could have written a love story just about French Onion Soup, but where’s the fun in that?! The cognac was such a good addition.

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      If it is one of your favorites, then you definitely need to make this one! It’s delicious. Thanks for the pin!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Dorothy! Paris is the perfect place to spend an anniversary…or really just any time. That’s adorable – but he should know he was not alone because my husband also was a little concerned that he initially couldn’t find it on any menu when, in fact, it was everywhere!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Janet! Soup covered in chintzy grated parmesan does not even deserve to be called French Onion Soup. Must be melty cheese!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Congratulations on 8! You should absolutely try it! Knowing that you, you will make it all from scratch and it will be magnificent!

  3. says

    Very Happy FIRST Anniversary Lindsey, and many, many more to come! Love French onion soup and for some reason it tastes so much better in Paris or Nice then back home. Your beautiful photos make me want to run to the kitchen and start cooking….
    Judit @Glamorous Bite recently posted…Avocado CremaMy Profile

  4. says

    I love how your French Onion Soup represents your love story. I can’t believe it’s already been a year. It seems like yesterday that the wedding fairy was nagging you regularly lol.

    I love French Onion Soup. It’s what I used to sip regularly at my last job (seasonally) during those busy nights. It kept me from passing out from hunger since it was one of the few things I can nibble on without spending much time to prepare (since the soups served at restaurants are premade before service). Love the globs of cheese in yours. That’s the only way to eat it.
    Miss Kim @ behgopa recently posted…Fire noodles GIVEAWAY for the spicy loversMy Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thank you for getting my parallel story! I knew I could count on you. I miss the Wedding Fairy. She was such a staple for a while. Sigh. I’m sure she is happily tormenting her new bride to be. :-)

      French onion soup is the bomb. And the more the merrier on the cheese!!! It was for the photos and I felt guilty but I ate it ALL.

  5. Tamara says

    I have a favorite French Onion Soup recipe already but I’m going to change it up and use your cheese combo next time. Sounds lovely! One thing I do that adds jus a little flavor hit is rub fresh garlic across the toasted bread slices before adding to the soup.


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