French Onion Soup

Filled with tears, blood shed and triumph, this entry has all the makings of a blockbuster thriller. I bet you didn’t realize french onion soup could be so exciting.

Last week we took a “Knife Skills Masterclass” at the Bowery Culinary Center as part of my Christmas present from none other than the love of my life. Most people questioned our decision to enroll in such a dangerous course that involved sharp objects…and for the tragically clumsy couple that we are, “dangerous” is not an overexaggeration. It might as well have been a course for mincing garlic midair with samurai swords.

Like clockwork, he managed to slice a hefty chunk of his knuckle skin within the first fifteen minutes of class. It was only his second stalk of celery. Classic. There was a lot of blood shed which caused the entire class to pause while two assistants brought him an army supply of band-aids. His finger wouldn’t stop bleeding so I helped him out while everyone continued on to carrots. Alas, the bleeding was under control and we were back in sync with the rest of the class. We managed to survive through the onions and potatoes, which in my opinion, are the more dangerous vegetables with all its shapes and high propensity to wobble.

Next on the agenda were herbs – piece of cake! Or so I thought. It ended up being more like a piece of finger. And yes, it was my turn. I was mincing parsley and managed to slice the edge of my finger diagonally and into the middle of my nail bed. More blood shed. More pauses. More band-aids. And in two slices, we officially broke the instructor’s record for injuries in a three-hour time frame in all his courses. What an honor!

So what does this all have to do with french onion soup? Well have you seen the craftsmanship in the slices of our red onions? Duh! We’ve been practicing! Our tiny apartment was filled with the aroma of raw onions as we cried and sliced our way to perfection. Okay, so we’re not quite there yet but we haven’t made a trip to the emergency room yet and that’s a world of improvement!


6 large red onions, sliced thinly
8 cup beef broth
1 cup red wine
4 Tbsp butter
1 bouquet garni (rosemary, thyme & bay leaf tied together)
8 slices of gruyère, fontina or muenster
8 slices of sourdough bread, trimmed to fit in the opening of the soup crock
olive oil
salt & pepper
brandy or cognac (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, melt butter with 2Tbsp of olive oil over low to medium heat. Line the bottom of the pan with a single layer of onions. Sprinkle a little salt over the onions and add another layer. Repeat the process until all the onions are in the skillet. DO NOT STIR. The key to caramelizing onions is not stirring them. Allow onions to sweat (about 25 minutes) then stir them around just a little. Allow to caramelize for about 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the sourdough bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until they are hard. Remove from oven and set aside your sourdough crostini. Once the onions have reached a deep brown color, add the red wine to deglaze the pan. Simmer until the wine has been reduced to half. Add beef broth and bouquet garni. Mix thoroughly and simmer for another 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add a few drizzles of brandy and simmer for another minute. French onion soup is best the following day. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. When ready to serve, remove the bouquet garni and reheat the soup. Next, ladle soup into individual oven-safe crocks and float one piece of sourdough crostini on top. Place a single slice of cheese over each soup and heat in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Once the cheese has melted, remove from oven and serve immediately.

36 Responses to “French Onion Soup”

  • Viviane Says:

    I love onion soup! This is my dad’s specialty and lately he has been less prone to make it. Maybe I should get down to it, but I guess that it has not been cold here this winter it makes you less prone to crave soup.

  • Impromptu Diva Says:

    I’m addicted to your site… i haven’t left your tiny kitchen since this morning haha! i’ve been admiring what you have been doing here. Quite frankly I’m smitten!
    I love everything about it, the pictures, the writings and the food… of course the food!

    thank you for dropping by and the kind words … yes i’m a mom of 3– 21,18 and 17… believe it or not haha!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Diva: It brings a HUGE smile to my face when I read your comment. In fact, I’ll be reading your comment every time I’m having an icky day :) It’s so great to see you on here and hope to see you on here again!

    And ummmm HOLY CRAP! Did you have your kids when you were 5?!?! You look so young! I thought your kids would be toddlers. I hope to look as good as you when I have kids some day! Thanks for being so inspiring :)

  • Dhale Says:

    @Viviane: It’s such wonderful comfort food. I’m sure you’ll be able to give your dad some tough competition with your own version of his onion soup! It hasn’t been a very cold winter here in NYC either but I still love having the yummy goodness of this soup :)

  • Maggie Says:

    Dan loves onion soup. This recipie will absolutely be on my list of things to do once we get to our spot in the sunshine.

  • Sook @ My Fabulous Recipes Says:

    Wow, Dhale, the soup looks amazing! I wish my hubby ate onions then I’d make this in a sec for dinner tonight. The pictures also look amazing!

  • Mimi Says:

    I think you might want to purchase one of those mesh cutting gloves to wear in the kitchen!
    Onion soup is such a classic, perfect for these stormy days we have been having.

  • rebecca Says:

    oh what a great gift your soup rocks lol rebecca

  • Lindsay Says:

    Just made some of my own this week! (Although, definitely not as “fancy” as yours…)

    Glad all digits remain intact :-)

  • Radhika Vasanth Says:

    Looks delicious Dhale. btw, what class is that.. do they train to use knives effeciently????

  • Barbara Bakes Says:

    Your onions look pretty perfect to me! Your pictures are gorgeous! You can make this soup for me anytime.

  • Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    It’s so cool that you guys are taking culinary classes. I wonder what is involved with chopping classes. This onion soup looks and sounds fabulous!

  • Gera @ Sweets Foods Blog Says:

    Thanks for stopping by at my blog!
    Always drool only listening the name onion soup…looks wonderful :)

    Have a great weekend,


  • Mathea Says:

    My French onion soup never looked this good. Seriously, I love the red onions, too. “Knife Skills Master Class” sounds like a daredevil feat. Hope the injury is healing nicely :)

  • Malisa Says:

    I made this soup just the other day. Our palettes are in sync Dhale! Though I did not have brandy, I used marsala. I seem to be using marsala for everything since making that chicken marsala sauce. Your recipe sounds delicious and perfect for the rainy weather we’ve had. :)

  • Simply Life Says:

    Oh I was planning on making this soup over the weekend – great tips!

    Also, I just added the cooked oats into the jar just like I would put them into the bowl!

  • grace Says:

    your opening line is such an attention-getter! and wowza, your cheese choices are superb. excellent rendition!

  • Neel | Learn Food Photography Says:

    Wonderful photographs on your blog Dhale. Liked a bunch of them, the first photograph here is specially awesome. I liked:

    β€’ The angle of this shot.
    β€’ The crop in this photo.
    β€’ The drip

    All in all a wonderful photograph. I would add a little more light specially to remove shadow of the herb.

    Thank you for stopping by.

  • Dhale Says:

    @Maggie: Hope you and Dan enjoy your lovely vacation down south. Hope he likes this soup and we’ll see you when you get back :)

  • Dhale Says:

    @Sook: Oh booo! But caramelized onions don’t even taste like regular onions… maybe you can change his mind? If not, then you’ll have a whole batch all to yourself πŸ˜‰

  • Dhale Says:

    @Mimi: Lol! We actually finally got one and my bf uses it. I, on the other hand, am quite stubborn and I refuse to succumb to this comfort πŸ˜‰ I want to learn the hard way!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Rebecca: It was the best gift ever!!! We both agreed to get gifts that are activities for that we can do together. And this was perfect! Thank you!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Lindsay: My last inventory states that all are still in tact. Let’s keep our fingers crossed this keeps up πŸ˜‰

  • Dhale Says:

    @Radhika: Lol! I guess we’re bad advertisement for the courses. It was taught by the executive chef from Henckels at the Bowery Culinary Center in NYC and let this go on record that they are fabulous and the class rocks! I guess it’s too much to expect them to teach us grace and coordination too!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Barbara: Thank you!!!! I can ship you some frozen french onion soup and I promise there won’t be any phalanges πŸ˜‰

  • Dhale Says:

    @Christine: You should try one of the courses. They’re a lot of fun and the ones form the Bowery Culinary Center are small and intimate. The knife skills course was our first culinary class and we loved it. Our next one is sushi class through the Institute of Culinary Education. Can’t wait!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Gera: Thank you for dropping by too :)

  • Dhale Says:

    @Mathea: Thanks so much! The healing process is coming along quite nicely though it may take some time for my nail to grow back from half way :-/

  • Dhale Says:

    @Malisa: And that is why we’re friends! Don’t you hate it when a recipe calls for 1 Tbsp and you have to buy a big bottle of the ingredient? I still have an nearly-full bottle of marsala in my pantry as well.

    Hope you’ve managed to stay dry during the Storm Watch 2010 in good ol’ California!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Simply Life: I’ll have to try those oats and almond butter soon! Thanks for the tip as well. And how did your soup turn out?

  • Dhale Says:

    @Grace: Lol! Thanks! And it was a blockbuster without paying the high price of movie tickets! ‘

    We love cheese around here specially since my boyfriend is from the land of 3,000 chesees πŸ˜‰

  • Dhale Says:

    @Neel: So glad you stopped by and thanks so much for the feedback! Still struggling with lighting issues as we have no possibilities of natural light in our tiny urban hole. Looking forward to learning more tips from your blog and hopefully some pointers on superficial lighting techniques :)

  • Joy Cil Says:

    Holy sweet mother of dripping cheese! Are you kidding! Love the picture…it’s like the cheese is saying, “Welcome to a bowl of goodness.”

  • Dhale Says:

    @Joy Cil: It’s time to man up and slice those onions! I’m sure Daniel will be very grateful for all the cheesy goodness.

  • Nava Hackmon Says:

    …you need a mandolin slicer, I heart mine.

    this looks delish, yum, I love french onion soup. Did you know in france it’s just onion soup?

  • Dhale Says:

    @Nava: I do have one but I wanted to practice my knife skills!

    Yes! Kind of like in China it’s just “food”? πŸ˜‰

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