Soup of French Onion: How to make it

As the title suggests, Julia Child’s French onion soup made isn’t a recipe I followed to the letter. Although Julia claims if you don’t use homemade beef stock, you may as well buy onion soup, I say you’re still better off making the soup at home. Just use whatever stock you have on hand, as long as it’s good quality.

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The Problem with French Onion soup

I don’t like fighting with full-sized pieces of French bread covered in cheese floating in my soup and I know others agree. So I suggest bite-sized toasted pieces of bread instead–they are much more manageable.

How do you make Julia Child’s French Onion Soup?

This is not a five minute soup, so just be prepared to caramelize some onions for a good 45 minutes or so. The rest of the soup making process is easy, and the result is truly worth the time and effort. See the ingredient list and step by step directions below.

How to Make Julia Child’s French Onion Soup with Step by Step Directions (Almost Like Julia’s)

serves 6-8


  • 2 quarts (64 oz or 1.9 litres) beef stock (or water with beef bouillon)
  • about 5 cups (1.5 lbs or 680 g) of thinly sliced yellow onions (do not use sweet onions)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 4 oz (118 ml) dry white wine or dry Vermouth
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp Cognac or brandy (optional, Julia’s recipe has 3 Tbsp, but I prefer less)
  • French, Italian or rustic bread, cut into bite sized cubes, toasted
  • 1 to 2 cups (70 to 140 g) of grated, real Swiss Gruyere (if you can’t find it, use Swiss cheese or even better, Jarlsberg)Special equipment: oven safe bowls (I found some at Home Goods which were made in Italy, however, these are the only bowls I found on Amazon that weren’t made in China, and they are a bit pricy.)

Caramelize the Onions

  • In a large, heavy bottomed Dutch oven , add the butter and oil, then the sliced onions. Cook slowly, with the lid on, for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Remove the lid, turn the heat up to medium, add the salt and sugar, and stir often for about 40 minutes (mine took 45), until the onions are a deep golden brown.
  • Finish Making the French Onion Soup
  • Next, add the flour and continue to cook and stir for another 3 or 4 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add the stock/water/bouillon and wine/vermouth.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and return to the cooktop, and simmer for an additional 30 to 40 minutes. Just before the soup is ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Prepare the Soup for Serving
  • When the soup is ready, add the brandy/cognac, if using and check for seasoning; ladle it into ovenproof bowls, and top with the cubes of toasted bread.
  • Now, don’t go and ruin this lovely French Onion soup by using poor quality cheese! Use the best, real Gruyere from Switzerland, please. Julia and I agree on this one! However, if you can’t find proper Gruyere, or can’t afford it, you can substitute Swiss cheese, but even better, try Jarlsberg.
  • Sprinkle the cheese on top of the toast, as desired. I like everything in moderation (the cheese on the bowl in the photo above, from the restaurant in Santa Barbara was a bit too much for me) so this might be a wimpy amount of cheese for you; if so, add more.
  • Repeat to make about 6 bowls, then place them on a tray and put into the center of the oven for about 15 minutes.

Melt the Cheese on top of the Soup

Finally, reset the oven to broil (grill) and move the tray of bowls closer to the top to get a nice golden color on the cheese, which should be watched carefully as it can burn quickly.

As I said, French Onion Soup Julia Child style, is well worth the effort!

Also know more about Soup of vegetable manchow: How to make it

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