Classic French Onion Soup
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It’s one of those dishes that I simply must order every time I see it on a menu at a French restaurant. The richness of the broth, the silkiness of the onions and of course the cheesy, crusty bread that soaks it all up. The Classic French Onion Soup instantly transports you back to an old-world Paris bistro where you can imagine yourself lounging around for hours talking, drinking, and eating

This is such an amazingly simple dish, yet the depth of flavor it creates and show stopping visuals will impress even your most discerning food critic friends! It’s a perfect starter or even an entrée for a cold winters night to warm you up and as anyone who knows, knows; is it really French Onion Soup if it isn’t scolding hot when it first arrives at the table?

What Wine is best for a Classic French Onion Soup?

You want quite a sweet fortified wine for cooking a Classic French Onion Soup. The traditional approach is to use Madeira Wine, however other fortified wine options work just as well. Port is another commonly used fortified. If you really want to ramp up the flavor you can also use Pedro Ximenez from Spain. A dark, rich raisin tasting fortified which is beautiful in a French Onion Soup

We do highly recommend adding the fortified wine to the dish however if you are unsure, just add a little bit at a time until you’re happy with the overall flavor profile. The wine is added right at the end as a last step before you broil the Soup, so you can afford to experiment with the wine a little to see what flavor you prefer. Definitely give it a go though, trust us, the flavor is worth it!

Classic French Onion Soup top down
We’re not too fussy about what Onions to use in a Classic French Onion Soup. We’ve tied them all, they all taste great!

What Onions are best to use for a Classic French Onion Soup?

The good news here is you do not need to be that picky when it comes to the Onions. There are definitely some flavor differences between Onion types, however when slow cooked down to a beautiful jam-like consistency all Onions natural sweetness will come out

Our usual ‘go to’ for Onions is the Red Onion, which is naturally one of the sweetest Onions you can use. They are also a super versatile Onion, so any leftovers that you have can be used in a million different recipes you can find all over our website. They are fantastic in Salads or being fried up for Smash Burgers!

Yellow Onions or Spanish Onions are another great choice. Similarly, very sweet when cooked down to an Onion Jam and go really well in this Classic French Onion Soup Dish. In this recipe we’re using both Red Onions and Yellow Onions. So why not try different combinations and see what you think works best?

The key to a Perfect French Onion Soup all lies in the Broth

There’s a lot of elements to a French Onion Soup which all bring unique flavors and textures to the dish. The Onions, of course, are a star of the show. Slowly cooked and caramelized to perfection. The crusty bread topped with Gruyere Cheese adds an amazing texture and beautiful flavors

However, when it comes to the core of the dish – and what truly makes for a great French Onion Soup, it’s all about the Broth. Ensuring you are using a well-made Beef Broth as the basis for your Soup is critical. The fruits of your labor will pay off 10-fold when the Broth is well made, and all the other elements in the dish will taste better for it

We cannot stress enough how important it is to make your own Broth / Stock from scratch. The flavors you can develop by roasting the bones and vegetables, then slowly extracting all that flavor into the broth with boiling water is a true artform of cookery. We’ve got an entire section of this website dedicated to Broths and Stock. For this recipe, you can either make our Classic Beef Stock or Instant Pot Beef Broth. Both will turn out great

Recipe Details


4 people

Prep time

20 minutes

Cooking time

1 hour

Total time

1 hour, 20 minutes

Classic French Onion Soup Recipe


  • 4 large Yellow Onions
  • 4 Large Red Onions
  • 4 cups of Beef Stock (see recipe here) or Chicken Stock (recipe here)
  • ½ cup Madeira wine
  • 1 French Baguette
  • 1 cup Gruyere Cheese, grated
  • 4 tbsp. Salt
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter


  1. Prepare your Onions by cutting the two ends off (the bud and the stem). Turn onion on its side and cut in half then peel. Place the flat surface side on the chopping board and cut thin, even strips along the natural lines of the Onion. This is the fool proof way to peel and cut onions. It ensures the onion slices stay intact during the cooking process
  2. Melt the little butter into a large saucepan or Dutch oven over low heat then add the Onions. Season with Salt to helps to break down the Onions during the cooking process.
  3. Maintaining the low temperature, cook the onions, stirring occasionally. Onions are about 90% water, so once completely cooked you’ll have about 10% left of the Onion you began with! This is a long process, don’t rush it! After about 50 minutes to 1 hour your onions should be beautifully caramelized and a dark golden-brown color
  4. Add the Madeira and continue to cook until the alcohol has burnt off and the liquid reduces by about half; about 10 minutes. Add in the beef stock, cook for another 10 minutes then check seasoning

Caramelized Onions ready for Beef Broth
Once the Madeira has cooked into the Onions they will become this beautiful dark brown color
  1. Pour the soup into individual oven safe deep dishes. If you’re able to get your hands on the traditional lionhead bowls that’s great. If not, any oven safe bowls will do. Just ensure they’re deep enough to house enough soup for an individual portion
  2. Slice the baguette into diagonal slices about ½ inch thick. Place as many pieces as you can fit on top of the soup. Dunk them down so they’re a little bit submerged in the yummy soup then liberally grate cheese over the top. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melty
  3. Serve immediately with a warning sign that this thing will be hot!

I always find I’m wanting more bread so as a bonus, slice whatever remaining baguette you have down the center, cover with cheese, and bake along with the soups for some added cheesy bread goodness to serve on the side. Bon Appetit!

Check out some of our tasty dinner recipes to pair with this Classic French Onion Soup for a truly epic meal!

If you’re still craving for more Soup dishes, here are a few of our favorites we’d recommend giving a try:

Happy Cooking!

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